Mapping Chernobyl’s hidden radioactive hotspots
The group from the University of Bristol, UK who used Kromek’s radiation detector to map the radiation levels at Chernobyl have written an article summing up their experiences, as well as revealing that they found some unexpected areas of high radioactive contamination, Chernobyl’s hidden radioactive hotspots!
Using the Kromek Sigma radiation detector
A fixed-wing drone was outfitted with two Kromek Sigma 50 radiation detectors. The Sigma 50 is a scintillation detector using CsI(Tl), thallium activated caesium iodide crystal. CsI(Tl) has a light output of 54 photons/keV and is one of the brightest scintillators known. The Sigma 50 itself is robust and can survive in the field and does not require any cooling. The team already had experience of using Sigma 50s in rotary UAV drones.
Any areas of interest found once the forest had been mapped was investigated further using a rotary (helicopter-style) flying drone that could hover over the area of interest and get very close to the radioactive material.
You can hear Tom Scott talk about the mission with the BBC here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48193866
Mapping the Chernobyl Red Forest User story
You can read more about the mission and the equipment used in our User Story: Radiation mapping the Red Forest, Chernobyl, Russia.
Radiation hotspots found
The mission found unexpected radioactive hotspots in Kopachi, showing major contamination.
The radioactive hotspot registered a dose-rate of greater than one millisievert per hour (the maximum permissible dose not requiring an individual’s classification as a Radiation Worker in the UK is six mSv per year), the area is believed to contain material from the original emergency cleanup activities performed over three decades ago.
You can read the Physics World article here, which also has an informative overview of the Chernobyl disaster as well as Chernobyl’s hidden radioactive hotspot: Physics World – Glimpsing Chernobyl’s hidden radioactive hotspots