Ionising radiation metrology for the metallurgical industry
Every year, more than 500 steel production sites in 23 EU Member States produce 200 million tonnes of steel, with and estimated ratio of 43% from recycled scrap loads. This material is tested for the presence of orphan radioactive sources from various origins (e.g. industry and medicine), by passing the scrap containers under radiation detection portals. However, under special circumstances, as self-shielding of sources or attenuation by other scrap pieces, this approach can fail; the radioactive source is smelt and results in:
- Radioactive contamination of the furnace, cast steel, slag, fume dust, filters and ducts, by radionuclides from various origins,
- Expensive clean-up costs (typically millions of euros) for decontamination of facilities, storage and disposal of raw waste and lost production revenues,
- Leaking of radioactive substances into the environment,
- Trade disputes over the contamination level of steel products, (with a significant financial impact), reputation loss for steel makers.
Although the frequency of radioactive incidents of this kind has been significantly reduced in the last years, some recent incidents demonstrate that these risks are common across Europe and that, in addition to scrap controls, "a posteriori" controls are needed to guarantee and certify the absence of radioactive contamination in slag wastes, fumes dust and cast steel batches.
The project was completed in November 2014.
The basic information about this project is contaned in:
- The final publishable summary of the project
- The more detailed Report (43 pages)
- Articles in peer-reviewed journals ( a list is given in Summary and Report, a few more will be published in the near future)
The final meeting of the project was held at CIEMAT headquarters in Madrid in November 2014. A total of 26 project participants (including one stakeolder) discussed the project status and the reporting tasks to be completed.
The 9th International Topical Meeting on Industrial Radiation and Radioisotope Measurement Applications (IRRMA9) took place in Valencia, Spain, this year. Several project members attended the meeting and presented the following communications: Interlaboratory comparison on 137Cs activity concentration in fume dust, by F. Tzika (JRC-IRMM) et al. Characterization of a Radionuclide Specific Laboratory Detection System for the Metallurgical Industry, by J. Solc (CMI) et al. Characterization of an ORTEC GMX45 HPGe detector with a multi-radionuclide volume source using Monte Carlo simulations, by A. Saraiva (IST-ITN) et al.
Every three years, an International Conference on Isotopes and Expo is organised to allow interdisciplinary exchange with colleagues from around the world. This year it was hosted by the American Nuclear Society and took place in Chicago. Two project members (the coordinator and a ESRMG) attended the conference, exhibited a poster and discussed many aspects with participants. This work was carried out by CIEMAT, ENEA, PTB and SMU.