Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sandia Helps Take First Steps In Control, Tracking Of Potential 'Dirty Bomb' Sources

Date:
February 11, 2004
Source:
Sandia National Laboratories
Summary:
Small radioactive sealed sources, designed to provide useful tools for measurement and analysis in a variety of industry and laboratory settings, have moved from the beneficial category to the threatening category in the post 9/11 world.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Small radioactive sealed sources, designed to provide useful tools for measurement and analysis in a variety of industry and laboratory settings, have moved from the beneficial category to the threatening category in the post 9/11 world. The Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories is working to get a better handle on where these sources are located and how they can be controlled.

The recurring loss, theft, or misplacement of radioactive sources, worldwide in scope, has long been an issue for public health and law enforcement officials.

Now, with the added potential for their use in radioactive dispersal devices (RDDs), or so-called "dirty bombs," officials view them as much more of a threat. Such a bomb detonates conventional explosives to scatter radioactive material across a target area. Dirty bombs, experts acknowledge, are likely to cause as much or more damage from fear and reaction to fear as from the dangers of the explosives or the radioactive materials themselves.

Clipping Collection

Joe Schelling, of Sandia's Program Development and Environmental Decisions Department, keeps a collection of news items that suggest the problem. One tells of a small, yttrium-90 sealed source was left in a New York taxicab. It was later recovered. Others tell how radioactive cesium chloride, removed from a sealed source, found its way into the hands of children in Brazil. At least four deaths and the destruction of part of a town, including businesses and 85 homes, resulted. Others detail a regular pattern of losses or misplacement of sealed sources.

"After 9/11, people in government started asking 'where is this stuff (sealed sources) in the country?' and nobody had a good answer," says Schelling. "We definitely started paying attention to missing radioactive sources because of the RDD potential," says Lori Dotson, who is managing Sandia's project to better control the more than two million government and commercial sealed radioactive sources in the US.

Enter RSRT

The project, called the Radioactive Source Registry Tracking System (RSRT), will first track all DOE sealed radioactive sources and provide decision makers with some estimation of the potential threat they may pose. The system is being coordinated with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency to be consistent with national and international source tracking needs.

Following reports from an International Conference on Security of Radioactive Sources in Vienna, Austria, in March 2003 and from the DOE/NRC Interagency Working Group on Radiological Dispersal Devices in May 2003, the Secretary of Energy chartered DOE's Office of Plutonium, Uranium, and Special Materials Inventory (SO 62) to create a database for tracking sealed sources.

The Sandia team's effort has resulted in an initial RSRT system well ahead of schedule, notes Gary "G.D." Roberson, DOE project manager. With anticipated increases in funding over the next few years, he expects the system to make a significant contribution. "It is already significant in the sense that the DOE has a database that is a direct commitment to the charter and is up and running."

Responding to the May charter from Secretary Spencer Abraham, Sandia team members built the RSRT system by using existing data and databases and adding other sealed source data from throughout the DOE complex. "Sandia had an operational database with some 55,000 entries called the National Inventory of Sealed Sources, which contained select nuclear materials, actinide isotopes, and sealed sources," explains Schelling.

Aggressive Milestones

The Sandia team set aggressive milestones to demonstrate that it could deliver an online system to meet the immediate needs of the new charter. The team met the first milestone late last year, six weeks ahead of schedule, by placing the interim RSRT online.

Federal regulations set limits on the types of radioactive material that must be controlled. The Sandia system uses those limits as a baseline. Now, acquiring data becomes critical to the ultimate success of the RSRT program. Idaho National Engineering and Environment Laboratory is supporting the team by leading the data acquisition effort.

The team's goal is to track all DOE sealed sources by March 31.

Currently, DOE is the primary user of the system, but DOE has also offered it to the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Environmental Protection Agency for use as a tool to support tracking, assessment, and recovery of sealed sources.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Sandia National Laboratories. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Sandia National Laboratories. "Sandia Helps Take First Steps In Control, Tracking Of Potential 'Dirty Bomb' Sources." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040211075845.htm>.
Sandia National Laboratories. (2004, February 11). Sandia Helps Take First Steps In Control, Tracking Of Potential 'Dirty Bomb' Sources. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040211075845.htm
Sandia National Laboratories. "Sandia Helps Take First Steps In Control, Tracking Of Potential 'Dirty Bomb' Sources." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040211075845.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins