The FBI has completed a six-fold expansion of a unique facility at Savannah River Site designed to examine and process radiologically contaminated evidence.
The Radiological Evidence Examination Facility, first established in 2006 within Savannah River National Laboratory, now has the ability to perform many more types of examinations designed to protect the nation from crimes involving nuclear materials.
The FBI routinely conducts studies of DNA, fingerprints, hair, fibers and other evidence at its primary lab in Quantico, Va., but the expanded SRS facility will enable agents to safely perform such tasks on materials contaminated with radioactivity.
Scientists at the top-secret U.S. Energy Department lab have helped develop new technology to adapt FBI investigative tactics for use in a radiation controlled environment, said Paul Deason, the lab's acting director.
"We at SRNL are particularly proud of our partnership with the FBI, putting science to work to give the FBI the ability to conduct investigations that help keep our nation safe from nuclear terrorism," Deason said.
Features of the enlarged facility, where a ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted Thursday, include new digital photography and X-ray capabilities, along with technology that will allow digital fingerprint comparisons linked by computer to the FBI's national database.
The expansion also includes a fully functional FBI satellite office and a dedicated storage room designed to maintain the integrity of critical -- but radiologically contaminated -- evidence needed for future judicial proceedings.
Savannah River National Laboratory also provides radiological crime scene training to FBI agents from around the country, and has developed special evidence packaging to allow investigators to collect and safely deliver evidence to SRS.
The lab, which ranks with Los Alamos and other world-renowned research centers, is also involved in dozens of other projects, including nuclear waste cleanup technology, solar and geothermal energy and hydrogen research.
SRS is one of eight facilities that make up the nation's Nuclear Weapons Complex --- in which programs managed by the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration ensure proper surveillance, maintenance, manufacture and dismantlement of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.