L.D. Cochran, “Preliminary Dose Assessment for Emergency Response Exercise at Disaster City Using Unsealed Radioactive Contamination”, M.S. Thesis, Nuclear Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (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 dose rates and how to use their radiation detection equipment. This research seeks to enhance emergency response exercises by using unsealed radioactive sources to 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 isotopes commonly utilized or capable of being produced at Texas A&M. A preliminary dose assessment for the exercise was performed based on conservative calculation methods used in assessments for unsealed contamination exercises performed at other sites. The selection process identified seven radionuclides that could be used for an unsealed contamination exercise at Disaster City. It was determined from the dose assessment that a radionuclide-dependent range of 1-40 mCi can be used to achieve detectable dose rates during the exercise without exceeding assumed administrative dose limits. The choice of which radionuclide and what activity to use should be made based on budget and the logistics of the actual exercise.