Tracking Radioactive Materials with Radiofrequency Identification Tags
Radiation Source Reduction & Management
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EPA and the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are investigating technologies to improve tracking and monitoring of radiological materials (including sources) in commerce through real-world testing of the Radiological Source Tracking and Monitoring (RadSTraM) system. RadSTraM is part of a larger program called the Integrated Safety and Security Enforcement and Interdiction System (ISSEIS) designed increase security and reduce losses of radioactive sealed sources.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reports over 300 missing radioactive sealed sources each year2. Lost sources can pose a significant environmental and health risk through multiple avenues:
- direct exposure
- co-mingling in the metal recycling stream
- use in contaminated consumer products
- use in terrorist activities
An effective tracking and monitoring system will help prevent inadvertent or illegal loss of radioactive sealed sources.
A number of technologies are available for tagging items. However, there is very little information about their performance in close contact with radioactive materials. Currently candidate technologies include:
- radiofrequency identification (passive and active)
- real-time location systems (RTLS), and
- integrated technology solutions
The primary goal of the demonstration project was to test the feasibility of tracking radioactive materials through the supply chain (in transit and in storage) using a particular SRTLS technology. This technology combines wireless radio asset tracking and sensor monitoring technologies.
A small active RFID tag (about the size of a credit card), like the one shown in the photo at left, was placed inside a radioactive material shipping container, which was then placed in a freight hauling truck.
Active RFID tags are powered by batteries; passive tags are powered by the RFID reader. In this demonstration, active tags could be detected by the reader while traveling at highway speed.
Tracking Radioactive Sources in Commerce (PDF) (10 pp, 88K About PDF)
This report describes EPA and DOE's investigation of technologies to improve tracking and monitoring of high-level radiological sources while in commerce.
-Companion Poster (PDF) (1 pg, 267K About PDF)
This poster shows the various parts of the system used to track radioactive materials using RFID.
Radio Frequency Tracking of Hazardous Waste Across International Borders (PDF) (2 pp, 68K)
this fact sheet describes a verification study on combining RFID technology with hazardous waste electronic manifest capability
Poster - Radio Frequency Identification in Tracking Hazardous Waste Across Domestic and International Borders (PDF) (1 pg, 2.75MB About PDF)
This poster describes the concepts used in RFID tracking.