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Title: Physical characterization of uranium oxide pellets and powder applied in the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group Collaborative Materials Exercise 4

Abstract

Physical characterization is one of the most broad and important categories of techniques to apply in a nuclear forensic examination. Physical characterization techniques vary from simple weighing and dimensional measurements to complex sample preparation and scanning electron microscopy-electron backscatter diffraction analysis. This paper reports on the physical characterization conducted by several international laboratories participating in the fourth Collaborative Materials Exercise, organized by the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group. Methods include a range of physical measurements, microscopy-based observations, and profilometry. In conclusion, the value of these results for addressing key investigative questions concerning two uranium dioxide pellets and a uranium dioxide powder is discussed.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [2];  [2];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [4];  [5];  [6];  [6];  [6];  [6]
  1. Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, Kirrawee, DC (Australia)
  2. French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, Is-Sur-Tille (France)
  3. AWE, Reading (United Kingdom)
  4. Canadian Nuclear Labs., Chalk River (Canada)
  5. Royal Military College of Canada, Station Forces Kingston (Canada)
  6. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1420293
Report Number(s):
LLNL-JRNL-745481
Journal ID: ISSN 0236-5731
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-07NA27344
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry; Journal ID: ISSN 0236-5731
Publisher:
Springer
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND RUEL MATERIALS; 98 NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, SAFEGUARDS AND PHYSICAL PROTECTION; Nuclear forensics; Physical characterization; Uranium; Scanning electron microscopy

Citation Formats

Griffiths, Grant, Keegan, E., Young, E., Wotherspoon, A., Palmer, T., Lu, K., Davis, J., Alexander, J., Jolly, L., Nevers, N., Delaunay, F., Collins, J. M., Dimayuga, I., Bergeron, A., Samuleev, P., Dai, Z., Holliday, K., Robel, M., and Knight, K. Physical characterization of uranium oxide pellets and powder applied in the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group Collaborative Materials Exercise 4. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1007/s10967-017-5678-z.
Griffiths, Grant, Keegan, E., Young, E., Wotherspoon, A., Palmer, T., Lu, K., Davis, J., Alexander, J., Jolly, L., Nevers, N., Delaunay, F., Collins, J. M., Dimayuga, I., Bergeron, A., Samuleev, P., Dai, Z., Holliday, K., Robel, M., & Knight, K. Physical characterization of uranium oxide pellets and powder applied in the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group Collaborative Materials Exercise 4. United States. doi:10.1007/s10967-017-5678-z.
Griffiths, Grant, Keegan, E., Young, E., Wotherspoon, A., Palmer, T., Lu, K., Davis, J., Alexander, J., Jolly, L., Nevers, N., Delaunay, F., Collins, J. M., Dimayuga, I., Bergeron, A., Samuleev, P., Dai, Z., Holliday, K., Robel, M., and Knight, K. 2018. "Physical characterization of uranium oxide pellets and powder applied in the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group Collaborative Materials Exercise 4". United States. doi:10.1007/s10967-017-5678-z.
@article{osti_1420293,
title = {Physical characterization of uranium oxide pellets and powder applied in the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group Collaborative Materials Exercise 4},
author = {Griffiths, Grant and Keegan, E. and Young, E. and Wotherspoon, A. and Palmer, T. and Lu, K. and Davis, J. and Alexander, J. and Jolly, L. and Nevers, N. and Delaunay, F. and Collins, J. M. and Dimayuga, I. and Bergeron, A. and Samuleev, P. and Dai, Z. and Holliday, K. and Robel, M. and Knight, K.},
abstractNote = {Physical characterization is one of the most broad and important categories of techniques to apply in a nuclear forensic examination. Physical characterization techniques vary from simple weighing and dimensional measurements to complex sample preparation and scanning electron microscopy-electron backscatter diffraction analysis. This paper reports on the physical characterization conducted by several international laboratories participating in the fourth Collaborative Materials Exercise, organized by the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group. Methods include a range of physical measurements, microscopy-based observations, and profilometry. In conclusion, the value of these results for addressing key investigative questions concerning two uranium dioxide pellets and a uranium dioxide powder is discussed.},
doi = {10.1007/s10967-017-5678-z},
journal = {Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2018,
month = 1
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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  • The Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group (ITWG) recently completed its fourth Collaborative Materials Exercise (CMX-4) in the 21 year history of the Group. This was also the largest materials exercise to date, with participating laboratories from 16 countries or international organizations. Moreover, exercise samples (including three separate samples of low enriched uranium oxide) were shipped as part of an illicit trafficking scenario, for which each laboratory was asked to conduct nuclear forensic analyses in support of a fictitious criminal investigation. In all, over 30 analytical techniques were applied to characterize exercise materials, for which ten of those techniques weremore » applied to ITWG exercises for the first time. We performed an objective review of the state of practice and emerging application of analytical techniques of nuclear forensic analysis based upon the outcome of this most recent exercise is provided.« less
  • Founded in 1996 upon the initiative of the “Group of 8” governments (G8), the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group (ITWG) is an ad hoc organization of official nuclear forensics practitioners (scientists, law enforcement, and regulators) that can be called upon to provide technical assistance to the global community in the event of a seizure of nuclear or radiological materials. The ITWG is supported by and is affiliated with roughly 40 countries and international partner organizations including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), EURATOM, INTERPOL, EUROPOL, and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). Besides providing amore » network of nuclear forensics laboratories that are able to assist law enforcement during a nuclear smuggling event, the ITWG is also committed to the advancement of the science of nuclear forensic analysis, largely through participation in periodic table top and Collaborative Materials Exercises (CMXs). Exercise scenarios use “real world” samples with realistic forensics investigation time constraints and reporting requirements. These exercises are designed to promote best practices in the field and test, evaluate, and improve new technical capabilities, methods and techniques in order to advance the science of nuclear forensics. The ITWG recently completed its fourth CMX in the 20 year history of the organization. This was also the largest materials exercise to date, with participating laboratories from 16 countries or organizations. Three samples of low enriched uranium were shipped to these laboratories as part of an illicit trafficking scenario, for which each laboratory was asked to conduct nuclear forensic analyses in support of a fictitious criminal investigation. An objective review of the State Of Practice and Art of international nuclear forensic analysis based upon the outcome of this most recent exercise is provided.« less
  • Founded in 1996 upon the initiative of the “Group of 8” governments (G8), the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group (ITWG) is an ad hoc organization of official Nuclear Forensics practitioners (scientists, law enforcement, and regulators) that can be called upon to provide technical assistance to the global community in the event of a seizure of nuclear or radiological materials. The ITWG is supported by and is affiliated with nearly 40 countries and international partner organizations including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), EURATOM, INTERPOL, EUROPOL, and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) (Figure 1). Besidesmore » providing a network of nuclear forensics laboratories that are able to assist the global community during a nuclear smuggling event, the ITWG is also committed to the advancement of the science of nuclear forensic analysis, largely through participation in periodic table top and Collaborative Materials Exercises (CMXs). Exercise scenarios use “real world” samples with realistic forensics investigation time constraints and reporting requirements. These exercises are designed to promote best practices in the field and test, evaluate, and improve new technical capabilities, methods and techniques in order to advance the science of nuclear forensics. Past efforts to advance nuclear forensic science have also included scenarios that asked laboratories to adapt conventional forensics methods (e.g. DNA, fingerprints, tool marks, and document comparisons) for collecting and preserving evidence comingled with radioactive materials.« less
  • A straightforward comprehensive outline of the nuclearly safe methods of handling and recovering uranium oxide pellets or powder of excessive or unknown density appears to be needed at this time. Such an outline or guide has been prepared and is presented. It is assumed that the U-235 assay, grams of uranium, and gram of U per gram are correctly known. The outline follows. The oxide is assumed to be UO/sub 2/, and the uranium density of the pellets (and of powder, until correctly determined) is assumed to be 9.61 gms. Ucc. These assumptions will be correct or conservative for allmore » oxide pellets and powder for the operations and calculations described herein.« less
  • [Participants will serve as border guards for Reimerland. They will be given brief instruction on the operation of hand-held RadioIsotope DetectorS (RIDS) and be provided an intelligence briefing that tells them to be on the lookout for suspicious activity at their post. Their instruction will include directing suspicious vehicles to a location for secondary screening. If, after secondary screening, suspicions of a criminal act involving nuclear and or radioactive materials remain, participants have been instructed to request assistance from the NLEA, who will then setup and manage a radiological crime scene. Participants will watch a demonstration of two vehicles containingmore » radioactive materials driving through and setting off a portal monitor. The first vehicle, a semi-tractor trailer, sets off only a gamma alarm. After the driver provides a shipping manifest of fertilizer, participants, posing as border guards, are expected to waive this vehicle through inspection. The second vehicle, an SUV, set off both gamma and 2 neutron alarms. The alarming of the neutron monitor should prompt participants to set up a secondary inspection of the vehicle immediately. The driver of the vehicle indicates he is in legal possession of an industrial instrument containing an old 133Ba source that has decayed to a level no longer requiring official paperwork according to the IAEA and internationally accepted transportation regulations. Authorities have verified that the industrial source does fit the description of one that is sold commercially. However, upon setting up a secondary screening, participants will use hand-held detectors to locate several other radioactive sources emanating from a black duffle bag in the rear of the vehicle (Figure 1). Hand held detectors detect the presence of 133Ba, and Pu. Upon questioning, the driver only commits to having the 133Ba industrial source and cannot account for the detection of neutrons within his vehicle. Since neutron alarms also sounded, participants should indicate that a neutron alarm would be inconsistent with a 133Ba source alone and should therefore conclude further investigation is warranted. This will prompt participants to call in a response team from the NLEA to set up a radiological crime scene around the vehicle in question. The response team is able to shoot a 3-D X-ray radiograph of the duffle bag without moving it to ensure it is rendered safe and moveable without disturbing the contents in the field (Figure 2). At this point, the duffle bag is entered into inventory as evidence and a chain of custody form is initiated. Swipes are taken from the outer bag to confirm there is no dispersible contamination. The bag and its contents are considered valuable for the investigation by the lead investigator. He determines the duffle bag is safe to transport to RRL for evidence inventory and analysis. The duffle bag and its contents are packaged and sent off to the RRL.]« less