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M.R. Scott, "Nuclear forensics: attributing the source of spent fuel used in an RDD event," M.S. Thesis, Texas A & M University, May 2005.



An RDD attack against the U.S. is something America needs to prepare against. If such an event occurs the ability to quickly identify the source of the radiological material used in an RDD would aid investigators in identifying the perpetrators. Spent fuel is one of the most dangerous possible radiological sources for an RDD. In this work, a forensics methodology was developed and implemented to attribute spent fuel to a source reactor. The specific attributes determined are the spent fuel burnup, age from discharge, reactor type, and initial fuel enrichment. It is shown that by analyzing the post-event material, these attributes can be determined with enough accuracy to be useful for investigators. The burnup can be found within a 5% accuracy, enrichment with a 2% accuracy, and age with a 10% accuracy. Reactor type can be determined if specific nuclides are measured. The methodology developed was implemented into a code call NEMASYS. NEMASYS is easy to use and it takes a minimum amount of time to learn its basic functions. It will process data within a few minutes and provide detailed information about the results and conclusions.

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Associated Project(s):

  • Attributing the Source of Spent Fuel Used in an RDD Event

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