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SRNL Designing, Building and Testing Seaport Radiation Detector System
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AIKEN, S.C. (August 3, 2010) – This month, the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) will begin testing a prototype radiation detector system at the Savannah River Site (SRS) that may be deployed to U.S. container seaports.

SRNL's On Dock Rail Radiation Detector System renderingContainer operations use large (40 feet high) straddle carriers to move cargo containers from the dock to railroad cars or trucks. SRNL has developed radiation detector systems that straddle carriers can drive through. Depending on the system in use, the detectors will either alarm at any radiation above background, or alarm and identify the isotopes responsible for the excess radiation.

The system has three detector housing assemblies, two on the sides that the straddle carrier moves between and one looking upward beneath the carrier. The detector housing assemblies are similarly large—the two on the sides are 25 feet high. The outer housings are themselves made of cargo containers. This SRNL design is a less expensive mounting platform than designing, building and anchoring a structural frame. The entire array is referred to as a portal.

SRNL is carrying out these tests on behalf of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), part of the Department of Homeland Security. SRNL is responsible for the design, fabrication, integration and testing of the prototype. Once the portal is at a seaport, stream-of-commerce traffic data collection and development testing may be conducted.

In recent years, SRNL has been testing numerous different kinds of radiation detectors for DNDO in different traffic environments, whether on land or water.

"We're glad to provide another service to DNDO," said Al Goodwyn, SRNL's Homeland Security Program Manager, "and we have some of the best people in the world to configure such a test in our Research and Development Engineering Directorate. This system promises to be an economical and effective protection against radioactive material entering our ports."

Project manager Mitchell Stokes of SRNL said, "Work is on schedule due to the team effort of SRNL engineers and scientists, Project Management and Construction Services, Site Rigging, and Procurement; we plan to meet our customer's expectations on this project."

SRNL is DOE's applied research and development national laboratory at SRS. SRNL puts science to work to support DOE and the nation in the areas of environmental management, national and homeland security, and energy security. The management and operating contractor for SRS and SRNL is Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC.

Media contact: Will Callicott (803-725-3786 or or Angeline French (803-725-2854 or at SRNL.

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Last updated: October 28, 2011

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