• Radiation risksAirport X-ray screening systems comply with health and safety radiation exposure standard

    Machines that use advanced X-ray imaging technology to screen airport passengers comply with radiation exposure limits set by the American National Standards Institute/Health Physics Society (ANSI/HPS), says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report also finds that the machines adhere to the recommended safety mechanisms described in the ANSI/HPS standards to prevent overexposure to radiation in the event of a mechanical failure or deliberate tampering.

  • EnergySmall-scale nuclear fusion may be a new energy source

    Nuclear fusion is a process whereby atomic nuclei melt together and release energy. Because of the low binding energy of the tiny atomic nuclei, energy can be released by combining two small nuclei with a heavier one. Fusion energy may soon be used in small-scale power stations. This means producing environmentally friendly heating and electricity at a low cost from fuel found in water. Both heating generators and generators for electricity could be developed within a few years, according to researchers.

  • FukushimaFukushima disaster was preventable: Study

    The worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown never should have happened, according to a new study. Researchers distilled thousands of pages of government and industry reports and hundreds of news stories, focusing on the run-up to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in 2011. They found that “arrogance and ignorance,” design flaws, regulatory failures, and improper hazard analyses doomed the coastal nuclear power plant even before the tsunami hit.

  • Radiation detectionTesting radiation detection systems in harsh conditions

    Researchers from five laboratories and a private company recently spent two days in blistering 100 degree heat testing radiation detection technologies amidst cargo containers. The fifteen researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using gamma-ray and neutron imaging detectors to identify radioactive materials using the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) cargo container stack testbed.

  • Nuclear eventsMighty Saber demonstrates post-nuclear detonation technical forensics capabilities

    In late 2013, a team of more than fifty scientists from across the U.S. laboratory and industrial complex began preparing for Mighty Saber with the goal of demonstrating and evaluating post-detonation technical nuclear forensics capabilities following a simulated detonation of a nuclear device in an urban environment. Mighty Saber, which ran from 27 July to 21 August 2015, successfully met each of its objectives, including demonstrating U.S. government post- detonation nuclear forensics processes; the value of prompt diagnostics data provided by the Discreet Oculus ground-based sensor network; and how prompt diagnostics complements radiochemistry in providing a robust post-detonation nuclear forensics capability.

  • Radiation risksRadioactive contaminants found in coal ash from all three major U.S. coal-producing basins

    A new study has revealed the presence of radioactive contaminants in coal ash from all three major U.S. coal-producing basins. The study found that levels of radioactivity in the ash were up to five times higher than in normal soil, and up to ten times higher than in the parent coal itself because of the way combustion concentrates radioactivity. The finding raises concerns about the environmental and human health risks posed by coal ash, which is currently unregulated and is stored in coal-fired power plants’ holding ponds and landfills nationwide.

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  • Nuclear detectionNew NGA global map advances geophysics R&D, nuclear nonproliferation

    A team of researchers led by scientists at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) published a new map 1 September which characterizes the Earth’s radioactivity and offers new and potential future applications for basic science research and nonproliferation efforts.

  • Nuclear radiationNew drug protects against nuclear radiation’s deadly effects 24 hours after exposure

    The threat of a nuclear incident, with the potential to kill or injure thousands of people, has raised global awareness about the need for medical countermeasures that can prevent radiation-induced bodily damage and keep people alive, even if given a day or more after contact with nuclear radiation. An interdisciplinary research team reports a breakthrough in countering the deadly effects of radiation exposure. A single injection of a regenerative peptide was shown significantly to increase survival in mice when given twenty-four hours after nuclear radiation exposure.

  • Radiation risksIsraeli port evacuated after container emitting suspicious radioactive radiation detected

    Israeli authorities on Monday evacuated the Ashdod port in southern Israel after an Israeli shipping container which arrived on a Chinese ship was detected to emit irregular radioactive radiation. By mid-afternoon, the port went back to normal operation. Israeli ports have installed advanced radioactive radiation systems in an effort to detect “dirty bombs” which terrorists may try to smuggle into Israel.

  • Radiation risksNew reference material to help monitor oceans’ radioactive contamination

    NIST is making available a new reference material which will help laboratories accurately measure radioactive contamination in seawater. The new reference material, a mixture of freeze-dried, powdered shellfish, provides a benchmark for scientists analyzing the local ocean environment’s level of contamination — for example, after an accident such as the 2011 nuclear plant disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

  • Radiation risksNNSA repatriates radiological material from Mexico

    Several U.S. government agencies and the United Mexican States have successfully completed the repatriation of three irradiators containing U.S.-origin radioactive sources from Mexico. For thirty years, these irradiators played an important role in the eradication of a devastating livestock parasite, the screwworm. The three irradiators contain more than 50,000 curies of cesium-137, a high-activity radioisotope that could be used in radiological dispersal devices (RDD).

  • Radiation risksSRI International working to develop screening device for radiation exposure

    radiation that may lead to severe health consequences post-exposure. To rapidly triage large numbers of people to determine who needs immediate treatment, a new, simple screening test is needed. Currently, if a person has absorbed a significant dose of ionizing radiation, there is nothing that can be done beyond waiting to see what symptoms develop, which roughly correlate with exposure level. SRI International has been awarded a $12.2 million contract to continue development of a diagnostic test for absorbed doses of radiation following a radiological incident.

  • Radiation risksIs your fear of radiation irrational?

    By Geoff Watts

    Radioactivity stirs primal fears in many people, but that an undue sense of its risks can cause real harm. Invisible threats are always the most unnerving, and radiation is not something you can see. Nor can you control it. The traditional secrecy of the biggest commercial user of radiation, the nuclear power industry, hasn’t helped. A justified fear of high and uncontrolled levels of radiation has thus undermined our willingness to see that the risks it poses at low levels are either acceptable or manageable.

  • Medical isotopesNew commercial method for producing medical isotope reduces proliferation risks

    The effort to secure a stable, domestic source of a critical medical isotope reached an important milestone last month as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory demonstrated the production, separation, and purification of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) using a new process. Mo-99 production faces several issues, beginning with its traditional production method using highly enriched uranium (HEU) in research reactors. HEU presents a risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, so the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has focused on the development of other methods for Mo-99 production and conversion of reactors to use low-enriched uranium (LEU). Mo-99 is also not produced in the United States, leaving the country to rely on isotopes from other sources in other countries, including a Canadian research reactor that will cease regular production next year, reducing the global supply.