CRP Launches Tech to Boost Secure Trade with Nuclear Detection

The IAEA has launched a four-year Coordinated Research Project (CRP) with the aim of enhancing and facilitating safe and secure trade through the development and advancement of nuclear detection technology. This CRP aims to further strengthen global cooperation to prevent the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials, which is a threat to the global trade and supply chains.

“The incidents reported in the IAEA Incident and Trafficking Database (ITDB) indicate that unauthorized activities and events involving nuclear and other radioactive material, including incidents of trafficking and malicious use, continue to occur,” said Elena Buglova, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security. “The ability to detect nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control at border locations is essential.”

From the nuclear security perspective, effective operation of nuclear detection systems at border locations is a key component of measures necessary to detect, prevent, and deter illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material in shipping containers. However, more practical and integrated nuclear detection systems are needed to balance nuclear security measures and the speed of commerce. For example, the presence of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORMs) in goods such as fertilizer, cement, and ceramics oftentimes sets off the alarm of radiation detectors. The alarm resolution process of inspecting every shipping container can create a delay in the shipment process and presents a time-consuming interruption for customs officers.

This CRP, covering the period from 2022 to 2026, will investigate and develop methods to leverage existing equipment and processes to effectively function as an additional layer in the security and safety of the supply chain.

In addition, projects within this CRP will be developed to demonstrate how radiation data can be converted into easily accessible information for decision makers, such as Front-Line Officers and national authorities.

CRP Overall Objective

The CRP on Facilitation of Safe and Secure Trade Using Nuclear Detection Technology – Detection of RN and Other Contraband has the primary objective of enhancing the use and sustainability of nuclear security detection systems and measures to detect nuclear and other radioactive material out of control at points of entry/exit and other trade locations.

Through the development and advancement of nuclear detection technology related methods, techniques, algorithms, software tools, specifications and technical guidance documents, nuclear detection systems will be improved and concurrently support facilitation of safe and secure trade. The integration of nuclear detection technologies with other technologies and data analytics will support detection of anomalies indicating the presence of other contraband materials, safety hazards, and commercial fraud.

The specific research objectives of this CRP are:

  • to enhance the use and sustainability of nuclear security systems and measures by increasing the value proposition of associated equipment through demonstration and development of methods to detect illicit trafficking of radioactive materials and detect anomalies that may indicate the presence of other contraband, smuggling, and commercial fraud;
  • to develop advanced methods and techniques to enhance the ability of existing passive nuclear detection technologies to verify cargo contents, e.g., assessment of streaming data from radiation portal monitors (RPMs) and draw comparisons to declared commodity information;
  • to enhance the use of various active detection technologies (e.g., use of X-rays and neutrons) to identify elemental constituents in shipping containers in order to detect nuclear and radioactive materials, explosives, drugs, and chemical agents, other contraband, and commercial fraud;
  • to develop advanced techniques for integration of passive and active detection systems to enhance detection of shielded nuclear and other radioactive material, other contraband, and commercial fraud;
  • to develop algorithms, approaches, software tools, and specifications to integrate data from different detection technologies, automation of the information processing to optimize the limited resources, and improve the use of data analytics in the assessment of detector technology response;
  • to develop better understanding of legitimate shipping practices of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) commodities with high radionuclide concentrations by collaborating with the industry to increase the effectiveness of detection of illicit activities and support safe and secure trade.

How to join this CRP

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