Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Research demonstrates that air data can be used to reconstruct radiological releases
by Staff Writers
Raleigh NC (SPX) Mar 01, 2016

The research was made possible due to an unfortunate incident in 2014. In February of that year, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) - a nuclear facility in New Mexico - had an event in an underground storage area.

New research from North Carolina State University demonstrates that experts can use data from air sampling technology to not only detect radiological releases, but to accurately quantify the magnitude and source of the release. This has applications for nuclear plant safety, as well as national security and nuclear nonproliferation monitoring.

"This is something we knew was theoretically possible, but this is - as far as I know - the first time anyone has demonstrated the technology's ability to reconstruct a release based on off-site air samples," says Robert Hayes, an associate professor of nuclear engineering at NC State and the author of a paper on the work.

The research was made possible due to an unfortunate incident in 2014. In February of that year, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) - a nuclear facility in New Mexico - had an event in an underground storage area.

A 55-gallon drum of nuclear waste, which had been improperly packaged, effectively exploded. This released at least two Curies of radioactivity in the underground storage area. This was enough to shut the facility down for recovery, but very little radioactivity - a few milliCuries - escaped into the environment.

WIPP was equipped with state-of-the-art air sampling and monitoring equipment inside the facility. And WIPP had also installed air sampling equipment stretching away from the facility for many miles.

Because of the on-site sampling and monitoring equipment, Hayes knew the size and location of the radiological release. He then used Department of Energy assets to predict what path the radioactivity plume would take after the accident and what the radioactivity levels would be in the off-site air samples.

When he evaluated all of the data from the off-site air sampling stations, he found that the predictions demonstrated impressive accuracy and precision.

"The predictions were correct to within one-tenth of a millirem in terms of potential dose to a person, which is similar to the radiation dose a large man gets from the natural potassium in his own body over the course of a day," Hayes says.

"This prediction technique works. And if we can plug a general timeframe for the release into the model, it also works for reconstructing a radiological release."

Multiple federal, state and commercial air sampling networks are deployed across the country for various applications including radiological detection. With these, the technique should work in the event of a large "dirty bomb" attack or other national security incident, Hayes says.

"The WIPP release was incredibly small, and the technique worked," Hayes says. "Any national security incident would likely be significantly bigger, and could potentially be detected and reconstructed using data from fewer or more widely-spaced air sampling stations downwind of the release."

The paper, "Consequence Assessment of the WIPP Radiological Release from February of 2014," is published in the journal Health Physics. The work was done with support from the Department of Energy under grant DE-EM0001971 and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under grant NRC-HQ-84-14-G-0059.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
North Carolina State University
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Study finds surprising variability in shape of Van Allen Belts
Los Alamos NM (SPX) Feb 25, 2016
The shape of the two electron swarms 600 miles to more than 25,000 miles from the Earth's surface, known as the Van Allen Belts, could be quite different than has been believed for decades, according to a new study of data from NASA's Van Allen Probes that was released Friday in the Journal of Geophysical Research. "The shape of the belts is actually quite different depending on what type ... read more

New Lunar Exhibit Features NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Imagery

NASA releases strange 'music' heard by 1969 astronauts

NASA chooses ASU to design and operate special satellite

Chinese scientists invent leak detection system for moon exploration

Jarosite in the Noctis Labyrinthus Region of Mars

Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli are joined

Footprints of a martian flood

Russia plans return to Mars, Moon despite money woes

Tools and Talent at Michoud to Complete SLS Core Stage Welding in 2016

Orion Simulations Help Engineers Evaluate Mission Operations for Crew

Orion Test Hardware in Position for Solar Array Test

NASA Space Program Now Requires Russian Language

China to launch second space lab Tiangong-2 in Q3

China's moon lander Chang'e-3 enters 28th lunar day

Staying Alive on Tiangong 2

China Conducts Final Tests on Most Powerful Homegrown Rocket

Scott Kelly returns to earth, but science for NASA's journey to Mars continues

Orbital ATK Completes OA-4 Cargo Delivery Mission to ISS for NASA

Send your computer code into space with astronaut Tim Peake

Black Mold Found in Cargo Prepared for ISS, Resupply Mission Delayed

Arianespace Soyuz to launch 2 Galileo satellites in May

SpaceX postpones rocket launch again

Russian rocket engines ban could leave US space program in limbo

SpaceX warns of failure in Wednesday's rocket landing

Imaging Technique May Help Discover Earth-Like Planets Around Other Stars

Newly discovered planet in the Hyades cluster could shed light on planetary evolution

Imaging technique may help discover Earth-like planets

Longest-Lasting Stellar Eclipse Discovered

Eco-friendly food packaging material doubles shelf-life of food products

Virtual reality is next as smartphone sales slow

Crystal and magnetic structure of multiferroic hexagonal manganite

Mystery of Dracula orchids' mimicry is unraveled with a 3-D printer

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement