View all news

SCU lab one of few in country awarded highest certification


1 December 2003
A laboratory at Southern Cross University (SCU) has become one of only a couple of university laboratories in the country to receive prestigious certification by the National Association of Testing Authority or NATA.

The Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL) is located in SCU’s Centre for Coastal Management, in the School of Environmental Science and Management, and is part of SCU company NORSEARCH.

“We’ve been under scrutiny by NATA for the past year as part of their rigorous certification process,” EAL Laboratory Manager Graham Lancaster said.

“It's been a huge process but now we have been awarded one of the highest levels of laboratory accreditation in the country,” Mr Lancaster said.

“We believe that NATA accreditation will be a great asset for student and research testing conducted at SCU, because it will add great credibility to the analytical results achieved, which are often published in scientific journals.”

The EAL provides analytical services in chemistry to a wide range of clients around Australia and overseas, as well as to university researchers and students. Its work includes analysis of farmers' soil and leaf samples, environmental monitoring of lakes and rivers, testing spills after environmental accidents, assessment of acid sulphate soils, and testing of local drinking water supplies including rivers, dams, bores and tanks.

“The fact that SCU science students have access to the entire laboratory made for very interesting negotiations with NATA,” Mr Lancaster said.

“We are now probably the only university with NATA accreditation where post-graduate students work with the scientists in the lab, using the same instruments, although they don’t do the professional work,” he said.

“Before we had NATA accreditation we had to turn down some jobs from government departments and for some legal cases. Now we can take on the full range of work our clients require.”

The process of obtaining NATA certification is both rigorous and costly, and involves the lab being re-assessed every two years to ensure it is keeping up to NATA standards.

Media contact: SCU media liaison Brigid Veale Ph: 02 6659 3380 or M: 0439 680 748.

PHOTO CAPTION: Graham Lancaster (far left) and his team at the Environmental Analysis Laboratory at Southern Cross University