Work packages

WP1: Unmanned aerial detection of radiological data

The aim of this work package is to develop, test and validate metrologically traceable systems and methods for unmanned aerial detection of radiological data. This will involve remote measurements of ambient dose equivalent rates and radionuclide e.g. Cs-137 or Cs-134 ground concentrations using rotary-wing unmanned airborne monitoring systems (RWUAMS) herein called multi-rotor UAVs and commonly named ‘drones’, with spectrometry systems mounted on them. RWUAMS have the advantages of hovering capabilities and independent movement in three dimensions. Furthermore, as indicated in the report EUR 27224 EN (2015), “This application of mobile measurement measurements is not mature; it is still in a research state. Hence, it is driven by funded projects. The market for commercial systems is limited”.

In case of a nuclear accident or radiological event such as the aftermath of criminal actions, radioactive materials may pose a severe impact on individuals near the site of the incident and environmental burden. In these cases, rapid and extensive environmental radiation measurements using mobile equipment is essential in order to facilitate early and effective response. The use of unmanned airborne monitoring systems (UAMS), which comprises the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) itself with measuring devices and the ground control station, is an important tool for the detection of radioactivity in areas where their contamination might be a risk for a helicopter crew and where accessibility is difficult for emergency teams because of collapsing structures or a complex topography.

Considering deployment during accident conditions the systems must be reliable and robust. Measured data format and their transmission must be standardized and optimized for accident responders. The employment of highly compact, reliable, spectrometric detectors and electromagnetically insusceptible electronics for data acquisition, processing and transmission is a challenge. As a carrier, an UAV with sufficient payload and flying range will be used. The aerial test sites with standard sources for traceability management will be established to carry out measurement campaigns for calibration and validation of the systems. The systems will be tested, calibrated and validated within measurement campaigns and comparisons.

To address these issues, investigations of the current status of airborne monitoring systems will be performed in Task 1.1 to explore the technical and legal background in order to prepare the following practical research and design stages. In Task 1.2, unmanned airborne monitoring systems will be developed by equipping drones with modern detectors systems, which allow traceable radiation measurements. First test are also included in this task. In Task 1.3, the software tools will be developed for acquisition, processing, transmission and analysis of data produced by unmanned aerial monitoring systems. In Task 1.4, the test and calibration procedures for airborne monitoring systems will be developed. Finally, in Task 1.5, test sites will be prepared so that traceable calibrations and measurements are possible and novel aerial systems will be tested to study their performance and possible limitations. Standard measuring procedures will be defined.

Appropriate environmental and health & safety procedures conforming to relevant national guidelines and/or legislation will be followed, especially in regards to investigations performed in dedicated aerial test sites by using radioactive reference sources and during the development and application of mobile systems (unmanned aerial vehicles). Before every outdoor measurement campaign (to be carried out in this and in WP2), permissions will be obtained from the local authorities, which will ensure that national radiation laws and regulations are fulfilled. By doing this, the protection both of the involved staff and of members of the public is guaranteed.

WP2: Transportable air-sampling systems

The aim of this work package is to develop and test transportable air-sampling systems for rapid deployment during an emergency scenario. These systems will provide quick information on radioactive contamination levels in air.

The novel systems developed in this project will be simple to use and ensure the provision of real-time and fully automatic remote monitoring. Accuracy, reliability and traceability will be addressed. Early adoption of the draft IEC 63047 “Data format for list-mode digital data acquisition used in radiation detection and measurement” standard will be supported to enhance compatibility of data and interoperability of systems. Strong engagement with stakeholders will support this programme of work. Emphasis will be placed on engaging with national bodies responsible for emergency planning to maximise uptake of the new technology.

To address these issues, procedures for in-field use of transportable air-sampling systems will be developed in Task 2.1. In Task 2.2 transportable air-sampling systems will be developed, which will making of software, followed by testing of the activity measurement instruments. An on-site comparison exercise for these systems will be carried out in Task 2.3 to test their properties in-field and to check the whole measuring chain. Finally, in Task 2.4, rapid radiochemical separation and analysis methods for the determination of airborne alpha and beta emitting radionuclides will be optimised and further developed as a useful complement of airborne radioactivity measurements.

WP3: Monitoring of ionising radiation by non-governmental networks

The aim of this work package is to investigate the feasibility to use (qUAMSi) real time dose rate data provided by open-access non-governmental networks in addition to official data. On the websites of such networks, e.g., non-validated data is published which was recorded with simple rate meters based on simple electronic devices or mobile phones (the latter partly equipped with simple auxiliary units). This area of so called “non-governmental monitoring of ionising radiation” has grown rapidly, e.g. in Japan since the accident at Fukushima, and is likely to continue expanding in line with the expansion of personal networked electronics. The central databases of non-governmental networks are operated by companies (examples: Radmon network or uRad Monitor network) or by volunteers on a non-commercial basis (examples: Safecast network or Radioactive@Home network).

In case of a nuclear or a radiological emergency with the release of large amounts of radioactivity, possibly  caused by an accident at a nuclear installation or by a terrorist attack, the widespread of information on dose rates (and activity concentrations) reported by a large number of individuals from the civil society has to be considered concerning two aspects:

The qUAMSi real-time availability of a large amount of data may be helpful in radiation protection to decide on and to coordinate appropriate counter measures. On the other hand, metrologically non-reliable data of simple and private electronic devices provided by non-governmental networks to the general public and to the media may cause unsubstantiated fear and could undermine the credibility of governmental information with potentially severe psychological and harmful side-effects as a consequence. In addition, even the real-time capability of a network like Safecast is very limited, as the real-time upload of data is currently merely foreseen in a few locations in Japan. A constant operation of installed private-owned detectors is not guaranteed.

To address these issues, available information of existing measuring systems and methods used in non-governmental monitoring networks will be compiled in Task 3.1 to explore the current technical status and measuring methods currently used. In Task 3.2, technical properties of typical and representative measuring instrumentation used in such networks are investigated in detail by performing traceable measurements in primary and secondary laboratories. Conclusions will be drawn to judge the quality of the tested instruments and the relevance of the data distributed in non-governmental networks. In Task 3.3, new handy medium-cost instruments will be developed on a metrological background, which may be used in non-governmental and official monitoring networks.

WP4: Passive Dosimetry

The aim of this work package is to establish stable and reproducible procedures to measure ambient dose equivalent rates using passive dosimetry in order to harmonise passive dosimetry for environmental radiation monitoring across Europe. In the aftermath of a nuclear or radiological event, long-term monitoring of external gamma-doses may be performed by using passive detectors. Passive detectors are small, cheap and robust, and do not need an electrical power supply, so that they can be placed anywhere. However, the metrological correctness of the dose data obtained from these detectors is a presupposition for the application of such detectors in official measurements, which may lead to far-reaching decisions in radiation protection of the public.

To address these issues, investigations of the current status of passive area dosimetry systems used for environmental monitoring will be performed in Task 4.1. This will be done by compiling available information and by performing a comprehensive intercomparison. In Task 4.2, methodological studies and extended measurements will be carried out to explore the properties and detection limits of passive dosemeters used for environmental monitoring. In Task 4.4 it will be investigated as whether a different detector type, electret ion chambers, could replace common passive dosimetry systems in the future. In Task 4.4, a conclusion will be drawn concerning the applicability of passive detector systems in the framework of preparedness. In addition, harmonized measuring and calibration procedures will be recommended to achieve a European comparability of passive area measurements.