The Advanced Photon Source
a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility

I am protecting people: Beth Heyeck leads radiation safety program at the new Advanced Photon Source

Beth Heyeck

As the radiological user facilities manager, Beth Heyeck and her team will be the main points of contact for safety measures as the upgraded APS starts its new life.

The Advanced Photon Source (APS) Upgrade is about to enter a whole new phase.

With installation of the new storage ring expected to be complete this year, commissioning of the upgraded APS is scheduled to begin in early 2024. With a new machine comes new safety regulations, and at the forefront of these new safety measures is Beth Heyeck. She is the radiological user facilities manager at the APS, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science user facility at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory. 

“When my kids ask what I do, I simply explain that I am protecting people,” said Heyeck. “My team makes sure everything is in place and we are there to respond appropriately. My job is about keeping people safe.” 

Heyeck has radiological health sciences degrees from Purdue University and Oregon State University and previously was a health physicist at a nuclear power plant. She has been at Argonne since 2018, where she manages a group in the radiological protection division that includes three health physicists, two chief technicians and roughly 15 technicians. Her team performs radiation surveys and evaluates and approves shielding designed to block harmful radiation.

For the last several years, Heyeck has been involved in the comprehensive upgrade of the APS. The original electron storage ring has been removed, and is being replaced with a brand new, state-of-the-art design. This will increase the brightness of the X-ray beams by up to 500 times. 

Heyeck works with APS Upgrade project management to develop material release processes, determine which areas need access to be controlled to prevent workers from inadvertently entering them, and provide technician support for surveys. The team is gearing up for 2024, when the upgraded APS turns back on. While the structure of the APS facility remains the same, its heart will be a completely different machine. 

When the beam turns back on, Heyeck will be monitoring everyone and everything on the experiment floor.

Beginning in January, the experiment floor will become a controlled access site for radiation safety, as it was when the APS first started up in 1995. Workers on the floor will need to wear devices called dosimeters. Heyeck’s office will distribute the dosimeters and keep track of them. Her team will also do a thorough survey of each experiment enclosure and survey every surface as beamlines are brought back online.

Such measures are nothing new for the APS. When the machine was originally built, dosimeters were required for several years. The safety of everyone working at the APS has been at the forefront of the design of the upgraded machine, and the APS experiment floor will continue to be a safe place to work.    

Building a new machine of this size will come with many tests along the way, but Heyeck enjoys that there is always a new challenge to tackle when she walks through the doors of the APS. 

“I like the variety and enjoy the health physics group I lead,” explained Heyeck. “We have a wide range of backgrounds and levels of experience. Some people have been here since the 1980’s and having them pass on their experience to the next generation is invaluable. Between the variety and the people, it is always very interesting.”

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