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Title: Monitoring large enrichment plants using thermal imagery from commercial satellites: A case study

Abstract

Thermal imagery from commercial satellites is an interesting candidate technology for use as a verification tool for the purpose of monitoring certain types of fissile material production sites. Examples of its potential treaty applications include the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) or a Fissile Material Production Moratorium. To help determine the capabilities and limitations of such imagery as a monitoring tool, the author has examined archived LANDSAT-5 images of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, a large US uranium-enrichment facility in Ohio. This analysis indicates that large-scale gaseous diffusion plants can very likely be recognized as operational with thermal imagery throughout most of the year in clear weather conditions. It may also be possible to identify certain other large-scale qualitative changes in operations, such as the shut-down of a single process building in a plant, by a comparison of its temperature with the temperatures of neighboring operational process buildings. However, uncertainties in the current data set prevent a definitive conclusion regarding the latter capability. This study identifies intrinsic weaknesses, including vulnerability to countermeasures, that prevent thermal imagery from satellites from being a robust standalone verification tool, even for very large enrichment plants. Nonetheless, the imagery may be useful as a triggermore » for an on-site inspection, to alert and train inspectors prior to an inspection, and possibly to reduce the frequency of on-site inspections required at a given site. It could have some immediate utility for monitoring the two large gaseous diffusion plants the US and the French plant at Tricastin, and possibly for determining the operational status of two gaseous diffusion plants in China as well--a total of five plants worldwide. The ease of acquisition and modest cost of thermal commercial imagery further increase its attractiveness as a verification tool. In addition to these basic results, the author considers the influence on performance of improvements in spatial resolution in the thermal band expected from new and future platforms. He also discusses the effects of external factors such as convective cooling of the roofs, solar heating, the atmosphere, emissivity changes, and deliberate countermeasures--all of which can adversely affect measurements.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Labs., Albuquerque, NM (US); Sandia National Labs., Livermore, CA (US)
Sponsoring Org.:
US Department of Energy (US)
OSTI Identifier:
756340
Report Number(s):
SAND2000-8671
TRN: AH200021%%142
DOE Contract Number:  
AC04-94AL85000
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: 1 May 2000
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
98 NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, SAFEGUARDS, AND PHYSICAL PROTECTION; 47 OTHER INSTRUMENTATION; THERMOGRAPHY; REMOTE SENSING; SATELLITES; ISOTOPE SEPARATION PLANTS; MONITORING; PORTSMOUTH GASEOUS DIFFUSION PLANT; TREATIES; VERIFICATION

Citation Formats

Adam Bernstein. Monitoring large enrichment plants using thermal imagery from commercial satellites: A case study. United States: N. p., 2000. Web. doi:10.2172/756340.
Adam Bernstein. Monitoring large enrichment plants using thermal imagery from commercial satellites: A case study. United States. doi:10.2172/756340.
Adam Bernstein. Mon . "Monitoring large enrichment plants using thermal imagery from commercial satellites: A case study". United States. doi:10.2172/756340. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/756340.
@article{osti_756340,
title = {Monitoring large enrichment plants using thermal imagery from commercial satellites: A case study},
author = {Adam Bernstein},
abstractNote = {Thermal imagery from commercial satellites is an interesting candidate technology for use as a verification tool for the purpose of monitoring certain types of fissile material production sites. Examples of its potential treaty applications include the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) or a Fissile Material Production Moratorium. To help determine the capabilities and limitations of such imagery as a monitoring tool, the author has examined archived LANDSAT-5 images of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, a large US uranium-enrichment facility in Ohio. This analysis indicates that large-scale gaseous diffusion plants can very likely be recognized as operational with thermal imagery throughout most of the year in clear weather conditions. It may also be possible to identify certain other large-scale qualitative changes in operations, such as the shut-down of a single process building in a plant, by a comparison of its temperature with the temperatures of neighboring operational process buildings. However, uncertainties in the current data set prevent a definitive conclusion regarding the latter capability. This study identifies intrinsic weaknesses, including vulnerability to countermeasures, that prevent thermal imagery from satellites from being a robust standalone verification tool, even for very large enrichment plants. Nonetheless, the imagery may be useful as a trigger for an on-site inspection, to alert and train inspectors prior to an inspection, and possibly to reduce the frequency of on-site inspections required at a given site. It could have some immediate utility for monitoring the two large gaseous diffusion plants the US and the French plant at Tricastin, and possibly for determining the operational status of two gaseous diffusion plants in China as well--a total of five plants worldwide. The ease of acquisition and modest cost of thermal commercial imagery further increase its attractiveness as a verification tool. In addition to these basic results, the author considers the influence on performance of improvements in spatial resolution in the thermal band expected from new and future platforms. He also discusses the effects of external factors such as convective cooling of the roofs, solar heating, the atmosphere, emissivity changes, and deliberate countermeasures--all of which can adversely affect measurements.},
doi = {10.2172/756340},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2000},
month = {5}
}