A Collaborative Partnership To Develop A Unique Security Solution For The Protection Of Industrial Irradiators Against Radiological Theft Or Sabotage

Michal Kuca - Sandia National Laboratories
Andrew Thompson - Sandia National Laboratories
Martin Comben - International Irradiation Association
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Cobalt-60 used in panoramic irradiators for industrial and research applications can be an attractive theft or sabotage target. Sandia National Laboratories, with funding provided by the United States’ Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of Radiological Security (ORS) has partnered with the International Irradiation Association (iia), an organization that supports the global irradiation industry and scientific community, to develop a unique security application, involving chemical obscurants that obscure the view of the target and make the potential attacker’s work more difficult. Industrial Irradiators contain millions of curies of Cobalt-60. Because of this very high radiation, these devices have historically been thought to be self-protecting. However, increased awareness of risk and threat by the irradiation facility has resulted in a heightened interest in increasing the security of Cobalt-60 sources at industrial irradiators. To successfully accomplish the theft of the target sources from an industrial irradiator pool, adversaries must have visual contact with the sources and source rack. Therefore, obscuring or visually hiding the sources in the pool can hinder potential illicit source theft. Sandia National Laboratories’ ORS In Device Delay project developed a low-cost, non-propriety obscurant that quickly deploys into the pool when an adversary action is detected, rendering visual observation of the sources problematic. ORS partnered with iia to engage the industrial irradiator community to ensure that this enhancement is consistent with industrial irradiator facility operations, safety, and regulatory requirements. The iia, with its global membership of leading international irradiator operators, facilitated a series of webinars that allowed the ORS team to present this project to representatives of the global industrial irradiator community, and to solicit their feedback in a lively and informative virtual format. This partnership with iia provided critical technical input that will enable ORS to develop a viable engineered security solution for industrial irradiators that will help protect the public from the risk of radiological theft or sabotage.