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  • Author or Editor: J. Bohner x
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Abstract  

Anthropogenic radioactivity is being measured in near-real time by an international monitoring system designed to verify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Airborne radioactivity measurements are conducted in-situ by stations that are linked to a central data processing and analysis facility. Aerosols are separated by high-volume air sampling with high-efficiency particulate filters. Radio-xenon is separated from other gases through cryogenic methods. Gamma-spectrometry is performed by high purity germanium detectors and the raw spectral data is immediately transmitted to the central facility via Internet, satellite, or modem. These highly sensitive sensors, combined with the automated data processing at the central facility, result in a system capable of measuring environmental radioactivity on the microbeequerel scale where the data is available to scientists within minutes of the field measurement. During the past year, anthropogenic radioactivity has been measured at approximately half of the stations in the current network. Sources of these measured radionuclides include nuclear power plant emissions, Chernobyl resuspension, and isotope production facilities. The ability to thoroughly characterize site-specific radionuclides, which contribute to the radioactivity of the ambient environment, will be necessary to reduce the number of false positive events. This is especially true of anthropogenic radionuclides that could lead to ambiguous analysis.

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Abstract  

A global radionuclide monitoring system is being engineered as part of a multi-technology verification system for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The system detects airborne radioactive aerosols and gases that can indicate nuclear weapons test debris. The backbone of the system is a network of 80 remote detection stations that utilize high-volume air sampling and high-resolution gamma spectrometry to provide in-situ assay and near-real time reporting. These stations are linked to the International Data Centre, which is a central data processing hub where raw spectral data is automatically processed, analyzed, and disseminated to the states parties. Measurements are categorized based on spectral content to determine which contain anomalous anthropogenic radionuclides that require intensive radiochemical analysis at a certified laboratory. The resulting system has the capability to measure microbecquerel concentrations of radionuclides and provide accessible data products within minutes of field measurements. During the past year of international operations, the minimum detectable concentrations and spectroscopy processing statistics were recorded as a function of geographical location and time. The results show that this system is an effective tool for nuclear test monitoring, as well as other applications such as radiological emergency response, public health monitoring, and scientific research.

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