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Fusion Science and Technology
Cs-137 sealed source lost in Western Australia
A rendering of the sealed source capsule’s appearance. (Image: DFES)
Authorities are searching 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) of Australia’s Great Northern Highway, between Perth and the remote town of Newman, for a lost sealed-source capsule containing cesium-137. The source was part of a density gauge used by mining company Rio Tinto at its mining operations in Western Australia.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) of Western Australia reported that the density gauge containing a 6-mm-diameter (0.24-inch-diameter) by 8-mm-height (0.31-inch-height) source capsule was sent by flatbed truck to Perth for repair, leaving Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine site in Western Australia on January 12 and arriving in Perth on January 16. The package containing the gauge, however, was not inspected until January 25.
Upon opening the package, it was found that the gauge was broken apart with one of four mounting bolts missing. The source itself and all screws on the gauge were also missing. It is assumed that vibrations from the truck broke the gauge apart and allowed the screws and capsule to fall through the bolt hole and away from the truck. DFES said they were notified of the loss on the evening of January 25.
Hesham Khater, Sandra Brereton, Lucile Dauffy, Jim Hall, Luisa Hansen, Soon Kim, Bertram Pohl, Shiva Sitaraman, Jerome Verbeke, Mitchell Young
Fusion Science and Technology | Volume 74 | Number 4 | November 2018 | Pages 387-405
Technical Paper | doi.org/10.1080/15361055.2018.1471961
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is the world’s largest and most energetic laser system for inertial confinement fusion. The NIF is designed to perform shots with varying fusion yield (up to 20 MJ or 7.1 × 1018 neutrons per shot). A large number of diagnostic instruments are present inside the target chamber (TC) and target bay (TB) during shots. The gamma dose rates due to neutron activation are estimated at various decay times following the high-yield (20-MJ) shots. Several components, like the snout assemblies of the diagnostic instrument manipulators and target positioners are inserted inside the TC, close to the target during the shot. These components represent major sources of gamma decay after retraction outside the TC. Five days after a 20-MJ shot, dose rates near the highly activated (retracted) parts are on the order of 1 mSv/h and dose rates within the TB outside the TC but at distance from the retracted components drop to about 50 to 70 μSv/h. The dose is dominated by decay of 24Na (T1/2 = 14.95 h) and waiting for two additional days drops the dose rates significantly. Seven days following a 20-MJ shot, dose rates in the immediate vicinity of the retracted components drop to <0.2 mSv/h and the general ambient dose rates within the TB (away from retracted components) near the TC drop to <10 μSv/h. Dose rates at much larger distances from the TC (near TB wall) are an order of magnitude lower. Detailed radiation transport simulations are performed to create detailed dose rate maps for all floors inside the TB. The maps are used to estimate worker stay-out times following shots before entry is permitted into the TB.