The Chemistry Laboratory at Äspö HRL was built in the late 1990’s. The main purpose is to perform the sampling and analyses on water samples collected in streams, lakes and boreholes in the surrounding area and the tunnel. In combination with groundwater flow, groundwater composition is of great importance for repository performance in both the short and long term. Before the site investigations started in 2002, a decision was made to accredit the chemistry laboratory. This was fulfilled in 2003.
The laboratory serves all of SKB and its projects, not only Äspö HRL. In 2011 new laboratory areas was built and this makes it possible for external organisations to use the laboratory for sample preparations and other laboratory work while performing experiments at Äspö HRL
Analyses and equipment
For the moment the Chemistry Laboratory can perform 14 different analyses for water samples. Nine of these analyses are accredited – pH, electrical conductivity, alkalinity, total organic carbon (TOC) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC), potentiometric measurements for chloride and fluoride, ion chromatography (IC) for anions such as chloride, bromide, fluoride and sulphate and UV/VIS spectroscopy for nitrogen such as ammonia, sulphide and iron (Fe2+ and Fetot). One instrument is still in the validation phase, the Liquid Water Isotope Analyzer (LWIA) for the determination of 18O and 2H, but the validation procedure is soon to be finished. External laboratories are used for analysing cations (ex. sodium, calcium and sulphur), lanthanides and other trace elements, nutrient salts and isotopes such as 3H, 34S, 87Sr, 37Cl, 18O and 2H.
Twice a year the Chemistry Laboratory performs a monitoring programme in the tunnel. At that time approximately 25 sections of different boreholes are collected and analysed at the laboratory. This programme has been ongoing since the tunnel was built in the 1990’s and the data is used for modelling the groundwater in the HRL and understanding the area.
Quality control and quality assurance are performed every time an instrument is to be used. The results for both control samples and regular water samples are stored in a laboratory database (WiLabLIMS). The chemistry laboratory has a useful and well described quality system for all the work that is done.