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L.E. Dromgoole, C.M. Marianno, and J.W. Poston, "Preliminary Dose Assessment for Emergency Response Exercise at Disaster City Using Unsealed Radioactive Contamination," 61st Annual Meeting of the Health Physics Society (HPS), Spokane, Washington, 17-21 July 2016.


The Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University currently supports emergency response exercises at Disaster City, a mock community used for emergency response training that features full-scale, collapsible structures designed to simulate various levels of disaster and wreckage. Several times a year, sealed radioactive sources are used at Disaster City to create radiation fields in which emergency responders can become more familiar with radiation dose rates and how to use their radiation detection equipment. This research seeks to enhance emergency response exercises by using unsealed radioactive sources, which simulate a more realistic response environment following an incident involving the dispersion of radioactive material. Limited exercises are performed worldwide using unsealed radioactive sources, and most of that information is not published. This work compiles that information and presents the process for selection of a short-lived radionuclide for use at Disaster City. Historically used radionuclides were considered, as well as other short-lived radionuclides commonly used at Texas A&M, or capable of being produced at Texas A&M. In addition, the use of Na-24 in bicarbonate form (NaHCO3) was specifically explored. A preliminary dose assessment for the exercise was performed based on conservative calculation methods used in assessments for previous exercises at other sites. The assessment was broken into four parts: (1) activation, (2) distribution, (3) exercise participation, and (4) post-exercise monitoring. MicroShield was used to determine external exposure from the source during and after distribution. Internal exposure via inhalation and ingestion was estimated by assuming fractional intakes of activity and converting to dose using allowable limits on intake (ALI) and dose conversion factors. The results of the calculations indicate that an exercise using unsealed radioactive contamination at Disaster City is safe from a radiological standpoint. 

Associated Project(s):

  • Preliminary Dose Assessment for Emergency Response Exercise at Disater City

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