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 Table of Contents 
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 131-134  

Vehicle tracking based technique for radiation monitoring during nuclear or radiological emergency

Radiation Safety Systems Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, India

Date of Web Publication22-Oct-2011

Correspondence Address:
Shashank S Saindane
Radiation Safety Systems Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Real-time dose rate measurements along with the route followed by the radiation monitoring vehicle and the quick analysis of the data are of crucial importance during a nuclear or radiological emergency. To develop a timely response capability in different threat scenarios, such as the release of radioactive materials to the environment during any nuclear or radiological accident, Radiation Safety Systems Division, BARC has developed an advanced online radiation measurement cum vehicle tracking system for use. For the preparedness for response to any nuclear/radiological emergency scenario which may occur anywhere, the system designed is a global system for mobile (GSM) based radiation monitoring system (GRaMS) along with a global positioning system (GPS). It uses an energy compensated GM detector for radiation monitoring and is attached with commercially available GPS for online acquisition of positional coordinates with time, and GSM modem for online data transfer to a remote control centre. The equipment can be operated continuously while the vehicle is moving. The data downloaded and results plotted on GIS map helps in knowing the exact position of the vehicle along with the radiological status in terms of dose rates. This measurement information, either as raw data or results can be stored in the database. The system consumes ~250 mA including the GPS and GSM enabling thirty hours of continuous radioactivity monitoring with a 12 Ah battery source. The system has been used in road based environmental mobile radiation monitoring programme carried out at various parts of the country. With laptop support, the system maps the radiological status online onto the map of the area being surveyed, to help decision-making on countermeasures during the survey to enable the emergency managers to take appropriate decision.

Keywords: Real-time, GRaMS, GIS, nuclear or radiological emergency

How to cite this article:
Saindane SS, Otari AD, Suri M, Patil S S, Pradeepkumar K S, Sharma D N. Vehicle tracking based technique for radiation monitoring during nuclear or radiological emergency. Radiat Prot Environ 2010;33:131-4

How to cite this URL:
Saindane SS, Otari AD, Suri M, Patil S S, Pradeepkumar K S, Sharma D N. Vehicle tracking based technique for radiation monitoring during nuclear or radiological emergency. Radiat Prot Environ [serial online] 2010 [cited 2022 Aug 13];33:131-4. Available from: https://www.rpe.org.in/text.asp?2010/33/3/131/86280

  1. Introduction Top

Based on the examination of past nuclear and radiological accidents and the five threat categories (IAEA, 2003), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommends the need for developing the capability for response to nuclear/radiological emergencies for all nations including those not having nuclear facilities (IAEA, 1997). Nuclear reactors containing large inventory of radioactive fission products and activation product can become potential source of radiation exposure to the public, if very large quantities of radionuclides get released to the environment. While the defence-in-depth philosophy and the engineered safety features the probability of a major accident to extremely low, capability for an effective emergency response and quick implementation of countermeasures only can reduce the consequences of the emergency, if at all a major nuclear accident occurs. The parameters which decide the severity of the radiological impact following a major nuclear accident are: the accident scenario, elevation of release, quality and quantity of radioactive release, meteorological conditions prevailing during the release, topography of the site, population distribution in the affected sector etc. with the most important factor being how quickly and effectively the countermeasures could be implemented. A quick assessment of the radiological status of the affected area around the release point is essential for quickly implementing prompt counter measures in order to minimise the possible radiation exposure.

  2. System Description Top

Global system for mobile communication (GSM) based Radiation Monitoring system (GRaMS) (Saindane et al, 2007) is system used for online dose rate measurement along with positional coordinates. GRaMS consist of six basic components to make it as a stand-alone unit for the online monitoring system.

The basic components are as follows:

  1. GM detector
  2. Micro controller firm ware
  3. Electronic interface
  4. Navigational system i.e, GPS
  5. PC Software for data analysis and
  6. GSM Modem

The electronics is divided into the following eight blocks as shown in [Figure 1]:
Figure 1: Block diagram of the GSM based radiation monitoring system (GRaMS)

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  1. CPU: The CPU block consists of an industrial microcontroller with 64 Kbytes field upgradable memory, 32 Kbytes EEPROM (expandable) for data storage, Real time clock to maintain the date and time, and also store unit's configuration information. It also contains 8-keys for user interaction. It has two channels ADC to monitor the battery status and the HV supply.
  2. Display: This block contains a 16x2 alphanumeric LCD display with backlight for user interaction. It indicates radiation level along with different unit status. Additionally, a 4-digit large 7-segment display LED/LCD is provided to indicate the radiation level. This is to provide the radiation level to the user inside the vehicle.
  3. PSU: This block accepts a low voltage ac from transformer and provides regulated 5 V supply to the entire card. It also provides isolated 15 V DC supply to field interface section. It has a battery back up input, and it provides automatic switch over to battery in the event the ac main i.e, generator fails. This section also provides battery charging voltage and battery voltage to the ADC for monitoring it's status.
  4. GM Tube Interface: This block provides adjustable HV supply to the GM tube. It also processes the pulses from the GM tube and passes them on to CPU for measurement. It also provides low voltage proportional to HV for the ADC for measurement and indication.
  5. Communication: This block provides two interfaces viz. RS 232 and RS485. The RS232 interface is used to interface to external PSTN or GSM modem. It can be directly connected to host computer. It is possible to connect to the radiation monitor system and monitor the radiation level, HV, alarm status etc. Also the parameters can be monitored and changed from the remote location. Additional port is provided if two or four such systems are kept in the vehicle and attach either a RS485 master with it. In such case master scans these slaves and stores the readings into it's own memory. These reading can be uploaded to the HOST through the RS232 interface (GSM modem). Additionally a GPS receiver can be interfaced to receive the location co-ordinates, which are stored along with dose rate and time. This is available through RS 232 port.
  6. Field Interface: The radiation monitor also provides current output proportional to the detected radiation level. This output is isolated using the optical coupler. A relay contact output is provided to indicate the alarm condition.
  7. GSM Modem: Global system for mobile communication Modem, provides full functional capability to Serial devices to send SMS and Data over GSM Network. It is integrated in to Serial device in providing them SMS and data capability. The unit housed in a Metal Enclosure can be kept outside to provide serial port connection. The GSM Modem supports popular "AT" command for developing applications. It has a SIM Card holder to which activated SIM card is inserted for normal use. The power to this unit is given from the PSU.
  8. GPS: The system uses a commercially available low cost global positioning system (GPS) receiver for obtaining online positional information. The GPS is configd in NMEA user format and the output is transmitted at 4800-baud rate. The character string gives the positional coordinates (Latitude, Longitude) and time. An external antenna suitably mounted in the mobile platform gives better tracing of the satellites for reliable update in location. The GPS updates the position every two seconds.

  3. Monitoring Methodology and Associated Software Top

The radiation monitoring system which was used for survey has two units of detector assembly and was installed inside the vehicle, close to the window covering all the side of the monitoring vehicle (Saindane et al, 2005, Otari et al, 2008). The antennae of GSM and GPS were mounted at the top of the vehicle to get the readings of positional coordinates. The dose rate data along with the position coordinates were recorded and sent to Radiation Emergency Response Center (RERC) server during the mobile monitoring period continuously.

In addition to the above system, portable survey meter like Bicron (micro R survey meter) and Field spec (spectrometer cum dose rate meter) were carried during the EPZ survey. In addition to monitoring the environmental dose rate data continuously, wherever activity was found to be suspected to be above background level, these portable instruments were taken out of the vehicle and detail survey was carried out a. Using Field spec, spectrum was collected to identify the presence of any radioisotopes. The vehicle speed was kept uniformly at ~30 km/h during the monitoring period. While data acquisition time of GRaMS was set at 5 sec.

The software is developed in Visual Basic 6.0 and Map Objects. The program is developed to receive the dose rate information and display the position of the vehicle on the map of the EPZ (Chaudhury et al, 2005, Saindane et al, 2009). Along with the position of the vehicle the following necessary information are also displayed as shown in [Figure 2]:

  1. instantaneous radiation dose rate level in the unit of nGy/h
  2. distance of vehicle for the power plant in case of nuclear emergency
  3. total distance traveled by the vehicle
  4. speed of the vehicle (km/h)
  5. sector in which vehicle is moving
Figure 2: Display of the radiological status, positional coordinate during the mobile monitoring of Tarapur

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  Results Top

The system has been used in various environmental radiation monitoring programs of RSSD/ERSMS by installing in different types of vehicles. The surveys conducted along different road route regions were at Tarapur, Surat, Kakrapar, New Mumbai etc. Some of the dose rates recorded by GRaMS during some of these surveys are shown in [Table 1]. It shows the variation of dose rate along the survey route and the route is shown in [Figure 2] and [Figure 3]. During the survey various waypoints were generated and are plotted on a map as shown in [Figure 4].
Figure 3: Route followed by the vehicle during New Mumbai survey

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Figure 4: The different waypoints generated during the monitoring programme at KAPS

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Table 1: Dose rate recorded by GRaMS during various surveys

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  5. Conclusions Top

The vehicle track along with dose rate displays the radiological status of the monitoring region at Radiological Emergency Response Centre. Due to it's compact nature, use of micro controller with serial communication, GSM and GPS interfacing, the system can be deployed quickly for quick radiological impact assessment at short notice in any mobile platform. The environmental survey carried out by GRaMS installed in different vehicle has demonstrated the system's capability in quick assessment of radiological status and data transfer to a remote Emergency Response Centre. Thus the system forms a useful tool for response and decision-making during nuclear or radiological emergencies.

  6. Acknowledgements Top

The authors express their sincere gratitude to Shri H. S. Kushwaha, Director, Health Safety and Environment Group, BARC for his constant inspiration, guidance and support for the development and testing of the system.

  7. References Top

  1. Chaudhury Probal, Pradeepkumar K.S., Saindane S.S., Suri M.M.K. and Sharma D.N. (2005), Application of Geographical Information System (GIS) for the Preparedness for Response to Nuclear Emergencies, Proceedings of 27 th IARPNC-2005, Rad. Protec. Env., Vol.28 (1-4), 464-466.
  2. Otari A.D., Saindane S.S., Suri M.M.K., Pradeepkumar K.S. and Sharma D.N.(2008), Radiological mapping using geographical information system(GIS) in emergency planning zone (EPZ) of Tarapur, Proceedings of 28 th IARPNC-2008, Rad. Prot. Envi., Vol. 31 (1-4), 94-100.
  3. Saindane, S.S., Chatterjee, M.K., Pradeepkumar K.S., Ravi P.M., Patra A.K., Riyaz Mulla and D.N. Sharma (2005), Radiation Mapping of Kaiga Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) by Mobile Monitoring Methodology; Proceedings of 27 th IARPNC-2005, Bull. Rad. Prot., 470-474, Vol.28, No. (1-4), 23-25.
  4. Saindane S.S., Suri M.M.K., Padmanabhan, N. Pradeepkumar, K.S. and Sharma D.N. (2007), Development of a GSM Based Radiation Monitoring System (GRaMS), Fifteenth National Symposium on Environment (NSE-15), Bharathiar University, Coimbatore.
  5. Saindane S.S., Suri M.M.K. Pradeepkumar K.S. and Sharma D.N. (2009), Application of GIS, GPS and GSM Support in the Preparedness and Response to Nuclear or Radiological Emergency: National Conference on Cutting Edge Computer and electronics Technologies-(CE) 2 T 2009, G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar.


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

  [Table 1]


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  In this article
1. Introduction
2. System Descri...
3. Monitoring Me...
5. Conclusions
6. Acknowledgements
7. References
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