Metrology for radiological early warning networks in Europe

Short Name: MetroERM, Project Number: ENV57
Lost city

Early warning of nuclear accidents: Improving Europe's ability to detect and respond to radiological incidents


Decisive and proportionate action is essential for protecting public health in the event of a nuclear incident. This depends on early and accurate contamination identification and the reliable estimation of the radiological dose associated with it. Rapid, accurate, and harmonised measurement data from monitoring networks is required for this purpose. Currently, dose measurements are mainly made using Geiger Müller (GM) counters, supplemented by air sampling systems. While GM devices are robust, no data is generated on radiation type; air samplers are accurate concerning the monitoring of airborne radioactivity concentrations, but many do not provide live nuclide specific data. New spectrometric sensor technologies can generate both information on dose rates as well as on radioactive contamination levels but these require robust characterisation to demonstrate reliability. An improved understanding of background radiation from naturally occurring radon gas and siting effects are also needed to improve dose rate and radionuclide specific contamination information availability for rapid public safety decisions and appropriate countermeasures.

 

This project characterised a range of prototype spectrometric detectors to test suitability for dose rate and airborne monitoring use by Europe’s radioactive early warning networks. Measured dose rate data from monitoring systems installed in network stations were also harmonised to ensure increased comparability.

 

The project:

 

  • Characterised new scintillation-based spectrometric detectors using radioactive sources that simulated released nuclear contamination, demonstrating the instrument’s response and suitability for dose rate networks and air monitoring
  • Investigated the effects of detector positioning and other radiation background effects to generate improved individual site corrections, for increased accuracy of dose rate measurements
  • Developed sophisticated data analysis protocols and databases leading to increased radiological data quality for aiding authority decision making
  • Developed and tested instrumentation for airborne-radioactivity monitoring using simulated contamination filter sources to confirm their likely performance in an emergency.

 

This project interacted with user communities, including the European Radiological Data Exchange Platform, and created databases of spectra provided by early warning networks. The partners worked with radiological monitoring networks in Spain, Belgium, Germany and Poland on upgrading instrumentation and the project experts have given information to a UK parliamentary committee considering preparedness. New instrumentation and procedures are being promoted to regulatory bodies, environmental agencies and international standards organisations to promote the uptake of spectrometric detectors based on scintillation-based technologies. These efforts will help support the introduction of new technologies and practices for improved networked dose rate and contamination monitoring, enabling faster, and better coordinated emergency action based on more harmonised data to protect public health and the environment. The EMPIR research project Metrology for mobile detection of ionising radiation following a nuclear or radiological incident is building on this project’s developments with an increased focus on unmanned mobile systems such as drones.

Project website
Publications
Novel spectrometers for environmental dose rate monitoring
2018

Journal of Environmental Radioactivity

MetroERM - Metrology for Radiological Early Warning Networks in Europe
2017

Proceedings of the eleventh symposium of the Croatian radiation protection association

Unbiased equations for 95Zr–95Nb chronometry
2014

Applied Radiation and Isotopes

Other Participants
Bundesamt fuer Strahlenschutz (Germany)
Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire (France)
JRC - Joint Research Centre - European Commission (European Commission)