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M.D. Grypp, C.M. Marianno, J.W. Poston, and G.C. Hearn, "Design of a Spreader Bar Crane-Mounted Gamma Ray Radiation Detection System," Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A 743 (2014).


Over 95% of imports entering the United States from outside North America arrive by sea at 329 ports of entry. These imports are packaged in more than 11 million cargo containers. Radiation portals monitors routinely scan cargo containers leaving port on specially-designed trucks. To accelerate the process, some commercial entities have placed detection systems on the spreader-bar cranes (SBCs) used to offload. Little is known about the radiation background profiles of systems operating on these cranes. To better understand the operational characteristics of these radiation detection systems; a research team from Texas A&M University (TAMU) mounted three thallium-doped sodium iodide [NaI(Tl)] detectors on an SBC at the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office's (DNDO) test track facility at the Port of Tacoma (PoT). These detectors were used to monitor background radiation levels and continuously recorded data during crane operations using a custom-built software package. Count rates and spectral data were recorded for various crane heights over both land and water. The results of this research created a background profile in which count rate was heavily dependent on position demonstrating how detector readings changed in the operational environment.

Associated Project(s):

  • SHIELD (Smuggled HEU Interdiction through Enhanced anaLysis and Detection): A Framework for Developing Novel Detection Systems Focused on Interdicting Shielded HEU

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