Guidelines for first responders based on results from deploying a mockup radiological dispersal device

Carlos Rojas Palma, Friedrich Steinhäusler, Petr Kuča, Irena Cespirova, Juraj Duran, Cameron Mann, Liesel Sneyers, Katrien Smits, Michel Bruggeman

    Research outputpeer-review


    During the past 7th Security Framework Program the European Commission funded a research project called CATO (CBRN Crisis management, Architectures, Technologies and Operational procedures) to develop a prototype decision support system for crisis management in addition to providing a suite of guidelines for first responders and incident commanders when dealing with chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents. In order to derive these guidelines a proof-of-concept experiment was setup during which several passive agent (Stable CsCl) dispersions with improvised explosive devices and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices were carried out. Each dispersion was thoroughly characterised by a number of monitoring devices, including high-volume air samplers and size-segregated air samplers. All environmental and forensic samples were collected by the UK counter terrorism police, following strict labelling and chain-of-custody protocols. The samples were analysed at the Belgian Nuclear Research Center suing the k0 method for instrumental neutron activation technique. A full consequence assessment analysis was carried out assuming that the observed concentration of Cs-133 in samples was Cs-137 instead and use was made of the specific activity of Cs-137. Due to the sensitivity of the information the European Commission classified this research. The resulted reported on in this work have been unclassified and are released to assist emergency planners and first responders to take the necessary precautions. The results indicate that, up to distances of 50 m from ground zero radiation levels will be considerable and therefore live-saving actions must be performed by fire/rescue wearing full protective gear. In addition, low-wind conditions will favor a long airborne residence time and therefore the use of full-face protective gear is a must. In order to protect first responders, a radiation protection specialist is to determine how long people can enter and remain in the contaminated area. The recovery of evidence in the case of a car-bomb will be hard or even impossible due to the high level of radioactive material remaining inside the vehicle.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1205-1216
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Radiological protection
    StatePublished - 28 Oct 2020

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