Evaluating airborne and ground based gamma spectrometry methods for detecting particulate radioactivity in the environment: a case study of Irish Sea beaches

Cresswell, A.J. and Sanderson, D.C.W. (2012) Evaluating airborne and ground based gamma spectrometry methods for detecting particulate radioactivity in the environment: a case study of Irish Sea beaches. Science of the Total Environment, 437, pp. 285-296. (doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.08.064)

69022.pdf - Accepted Version



In several places, programmes are in place to locate and recover radioactive particles that have the potential to cause detrimental health effects in any member of the publicwho may encounter them. A model has been developed to evaluate the use of mobile gamma spectrometry systems within such programmes, with particular emphasis on large volume (16 l) NaI(Tl) detectors mounted in low flying helicopters. This model uses a validated Monte Carlo code with assessment of local geochemistry and natural and anthropogenic background radiation concentrations and distributions. The results of the model, applied to the example of particles recovered from beaches in the vicinity of Sellafield, clearly show the ability of rapid airborne surveys conducted at 75 m ground clearance and 120 kph speeds to demonstrate the absence of sources greater than 5 MBq 137Cs within large areas (10–20 km2 h−1), and identify areas requiring further ground based investigation. Lowering ground clearance for airborne surveys to 15 m whilst maintaining speeds covering 1–2 km2 h−1 can detect buried 137Cs sources of 0.5 MBq or greater activity. A survey design to detect 100 kBq 137Cs sources at 10 cm depth has also been defined, requiring surveys at b15 m ground clearance and b2 m s−1 ground speed. The response of airborne systems to the Sellafield particles recovered to date has also been simulated, and the proportion of the existing radiocaesium background in the vicinity of the nuclear site has been established. Finally the rates of area coverage and sensitivities of both airborne and ground based approaches are compared, demonstrating the ability of airborne systems to increase the rate of particle recovery in a cost effective manner. The potential for equipment and methodological developments to improve performance are discussed.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Science of the Total Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Science of the Total Environment, 437,2012, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.08.064
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sanderson, Professor David and Cresswell, Dr Alan
Authors: Cresswell, A.J., and Sanderson, D.C.W.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Science of the Total Environment
Published Online:01 September 2012
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Science of the Total Environment 437:285-296
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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