National Nuclear Security Administration

Meet a Machine: MSTS ensures security and tracks mobile radioactive sources with ease

May 30, 2017

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Mobile Source Transit Security (MSTS)

The MSTS components seen here are installed onto a well-logging truck and its associated radioactive source storage containers. Once installed the MSTS provides near real-time system status. Notifications and alerts are sent to the user’s operations center where remedial action is taken.

The Mobile Source Transit Security (MSTS) system was developed to help users increase security through the tracking of mobile devices containining radiological material and improve the ability to recover the devices should they be stolen or lost. Radiological materials are widely used for commercial purposes, such as well-logging and industrial radiography. Because these two applications require highly portable devices, the mobility of this material creates security challenges. To address it, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed MSTS by modifying and integrating existing technology, such as radio frequency identification, which is used to track high-value assets. Working closely with industry, the lab found areas where MSTS could integrate with existing quality assurance processes and even make less work for the engineers. Users can operate MSTS from any mobile device - an engineer’s smartphone could be used to monitor the status of the radiological material. If that material were stolen, MSTS users could share the location with law enforcement, enabling them to narrow the search. Through industry partnerships, NNSA has developed a system that enhances the security of radiological material.

The MSTS components seen here are installed on a radiography truck and associated radiography camera. Once installed the MSTS provides near real-time system status. Notifications and alerts are sent to the user’s operations center where remedial action is taken.Interesting fact:

While these devices spend a lot of their time in transit, they also need to be secured when they are at their home base. NNSA developed a storage solution that incorporates the MSTS system and keeps its batteries charged. These containers integrate enhanced delay (meaning it takes a long time to break into one) as well as detection (so an attempted break-in is detected) into a single storage location called the Integrated Security Container.

The Persistent Monitoring (PM)-Tag is integrated into the radiography camera to provide the most accurate system status. The PM-Tag monitors radiation presence and communicates wirelessly to the other MSTS components.

The Integrated Security Container (ISC) provides enhanced physical security. The ISC also includes integrated electronics to monitor the radiography MSTS components, allowing the MSTS to monitor near real-time status while in storage.