PNNL to Test Commercial Radiation Detectors

Emergency responders put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve. When they respond to a potential terrorist event, they need to know that the tools they purchased to detect radiation will work.

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will now help ensure those tools work properly. The Department of Homeland Security has accepted PNNL to test and evaluate commercially available radiation detectors through its new GRaDER program -- Graduated Radiation and Nuclear Detector Evaluation and Reporting (http://www.dhs.gov/xres/programs/gc_1218637329931.shtm).

PNNL is the first U.S. laboratory to be accepted to play this role.

"We'll be the first line of defense, if you will, for emergency responders," said Michelle Johnson, project manager for PNNL's Ionizing Radiation Lab. "It really comes down to emergency responders having the best tools available. We'll be objective technical experts. It means a lot to me to know that we'll be helping protect them so they can stay focused on protecting us."

In a previously funded DHS program, companies submitted detectors to PNNL for testing. Not one met all of the performance requirements.

Anyone who wants to buy radiation detectors using DHS grant money will use test results from the GRaDER program to choose systems that satisfy performance requirements. And companies selling these systems to grant recipients must have them evaluated to get the equipment on GRaDER's list of evaluated equipment. Users may include emergency responders, law enforcement and other DHS program offices.

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