The discovery of x-rays as early as 1875 open the door to what has become the modern atomic age. But it was not until the introduction of atomic weaponry that humanity discovered just how dangerous uncontrolled radiation could be. Now that we know, it is imperative for the worldwide community to reduce the threat of radiation by building better radiation detection.
Rock West Solutions, a California company that specializes in sensor technology, is continually looking for ways to improve radiation source detection through technological means. They understand that better radiation detection means a greater ability to locate problems at their source so as to design and implement the right kinds of solutions.
In essence, what engineers at Rock West Solutions are doing falls in line with one of the defining strategies of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The agency is currently engaged in an extensive and global project to better manage orphaned sources of radiation.
IAEA Technical Cooperation Program
The IAEA’s Technical Cooperation program is all about working with individual countries to minimize the risk of harm from radiation by supplying them with, and teaching them to use, better radiation detection technologies. The most important part of the program is the hands-on training the agency provides. The IAEA trains operators, regulators, and others in how to safely identify and mitigate radiation concerns.
A big part of the IAEA strategy is something they call ‘sustaining cradle-to-grave control of radioactive sources’. This is both a framework and strategy that includes training courses. The courses were offered this past December to 26 participants representing 15 different countries.
- Proper handling of orphaned sources of radiation
- Proper use of radiation source detection equipment
- Search and recovery from orphan radiation.
According to a IAEA bulletin released in early January, the December training was important for a number of reasons. First, the training offered a “comprehensive approach to the management of radioactive sources [favoring] better collaboration between operators and regulators.”
Second, the IAEA believes training that brings operators and regulators together creates “better synergies at the national level.” In short, trainees come away with an understanding of how to find orphan sources of radiation and then deal with them properly.
Made Possible with Sensor Technology
The IAEAs global program for controlling orphaned radiation is certainly a necessary and noble one. What they are doing would not be possible without the research and work being done at companies like Rock West Solutions. It’s one thing to say orphan radiation needs to be controlled; it is an entirely different matter to put the means of control in the hands of local authorities.
Advanced sensor technology is enabling radiation control at the local level. As tracing and measuring equipment improves, devices get smaller and price tags go down. Local authorities can then justify the expense of investing in radiation detection equipment where they would otherwise have relied on international agencies like the IAEA to come in and do the job for them.
If the IAEAs vision is seen through to its fulfillment, radiation control will be as commonplace as flood mitigation and other proactive disaster avoidance procedures. It will have a profound effect on global health as well. Where orphan radiation is controlled to the fullest possible extent, we should see less disease related to radiation exposure. We should also see a better environment too.
Here’s hoping the IAEA realizes its goals as currently envisioned. The project is being funded by the European Union, the U.S., and Spain. It is money well worth spending in the fight to control radiation.