Neutron and Fissile Material Detection Using Fission Film Device


C. Sun


Today's society puts high demands on homeland security and terrorism defense programs in order to mitigate against nuclear attacks and their consequences. Key components include controlling special nuclear materials (SNM) in workplaces and also safeguarding transuranium wastes and SNM during relocation in all sealed containers. A fission-track film device has been studied and has been known as the FTA-2; it is a 2nd generation fission track analysis (FTA) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. In 1991, FTA detection was maintained as low as at 2 microBq of plutonium-239. It is used to establish the plutonium uptake baseline and dose assessments for the Bravo (hydrogen bomb test) exposed residents in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Since high precision and specialized skills in chemistry and track reading processes are required for the original FTA, the method was slow and expensive. As a result, the DOE terminated the support and replaced the Brookhaven FTA operation with Mass Spectrometry methods. However, the microBq-level sensitivity is required for "homeland-security" baselines and to effectively detect the misuse of SNM. Since the FTA-2 film is made from inexpensive materials, resulting in fewer counting complications, and since it requires no nuclear reactor for neutron flux measurements, the total analytical cost and turn-around-times are significantly reduced. Furthermore, the FTA-2 has the following useful characteristics: (1) The film can be mass produced similar to "35-mm" camera film; (2) The film is easy to use and is stable in temperature and humidity extremes; (3) The film can be hidden and set in a confined space; (4) The film reader is small (a lunch-box in size) and can be easily operated by non-technical staffs; and (5) the exposed film becomes a permanent record for validation and verification. The most important characteristics are that the FTA-2 is a zero background device and it can be calibrated to any desired sensitivity for all monitoring, screening, safeguarding and radiological protection applications.


This abstract was presented at the 36th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Radiation Safety Aspects of Homeland Security and Emergency Response", Emerging Technologies, Part 2 Session, 1/26/2003 - 1/29/2003, held in San Antonio, TX.

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