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Abstract  

A novel scintillating-fiber sensor for detecting high-energy beta particles has been designed and built at the Pacific Northwest Laboratory to characterize238U and90Sr in surface soils. High-energy betas generate unique signals as they pass through multiple layers of scintillating fibers that make up the active region of the detector. Lower-energy beta particles, gamma rays, and cosmic-ray-generated particles comprise the majority of the background interferences. The resulting signals produced by these latter phenomena are effectively discriminated against due to the combination of the sensor's multi-layer configuration and its interlayer coincidence/anti-coincidence circuitry.

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Abstract  

A large area beta scintillation detector has been developed which is currently capable of determining Sr-90/Y-90 contamination in surficial soils. The detector system employs scintillating fiber optic arrays, with active dimensions approximately 15 cm wide by 100 cm long, both ends of which are coupled to multiple photomultiplier tubes (PMTs). Electronic processing includes coincidence requirements to optimize sensitivity and selectivity for the 2.28 MeV (maximum) beta particle from Y-90. Low energy beta particles and gamma rays are discriminated against using double ended and multi-layer coincidence requirements. The detector system is personal-computer-software controlled and data restored in a format compatible with standard database software for ease of final data reduction. Experimental calibration studies have shown a linear response for Sr-90/Y-90 soil concentrations from 12 to over 500 pCi/g and a discrimination factor of 50 to 1 versus Cs-137.

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Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry
Authors: R. L. Brodzinski, R. A. Craig, S. D. Fink, W. K. Hensley, N. O. Holt, M. A. Knopf, E. A. Lepel, O. D. Mullen, S. R. Salaymeh, T. J. Samuel, J. E. Smart, M. R. Tinker, and D. D. Walker

Summary  

An online monitor has been designed, built, and tested that is capable of measuring the residual transuranic concentrations in processed high-level wastes with a detection limit of 370 Bq/ml (10 nCi/ml) in less than six hours. The monitor measures the (α,n) neutrons in the presence of gamma-ray fields up to 1 Sv/h (100 R/h). The optimum design was determined by Monte Carlo modeling and then tempered with practical engineering and cost considerations. A multiplicity counter is used in data acquisition to reject the large fraction of coincident and highly variable cosmic-ray-engendered background events and results in an S/N ratio ~1.

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