International Workshop on Radiological Sciences and Applications Vienna, Austria; 16-18 March 2005

The Pilot Portal Radiation-Monitor System in Uzbekistan

S. Djalilov1, R.B. Knapp2, A. Loshak2, V.D. Petrenko3, J.H. Richardson2, B.S. Yuldashev3,4

1State Customs Committee, Tashkent, Uzbekistan 2Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California, U.S.A. 3Institute of Nuclear Physics, Tashkent, Uzbekistan 4Academy of Sciences, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

A portal radiation-monitor pilot system has been established at four high-priority ports-of-entry in Uzbekistan. This pilot system is an initial deterrent against illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials and demonstrates an effective approach for the deployment, operation, maintenance, and management of a portal monitoring system.

Central Asia is a historic center for the transport of high-value freight but with this commerce comes the opportunity for smuggling. Currently, illicit trafficking through Central Asia includes opiates from Afghanistan to Europe and nuclear and radioactive materials from source locations in the Russian Federation to points south. Routes for these two trades are expected to utilize the same compromised ports-of-entry, though in the opposite directions.

Uzbekistan is one conduit for illicit trafficking in Central Asia. An effective portal radiation-monitor pilot system in Uzbekistan would hinder and deter ˝ but not eliminate -- smuggling efforts across the region. In Uzbekistan, railroads and the primary highway networks are expected to be the main routes for smuggling. Known and suspected drug smuggling routes, commercial traffic volume, and the location of probable nuclear and radioactive material suppliers and end-users have been used to guide the installation order of a portal radiation-monitoring system.

The four ports-of-entry selected for the Uzbekistan pilot system are Gisht-Kuprik, Tashkent International Airport, Ayritom, and Alat. Gisht-Kuprik is the major highway link between southern Kazakhstan and Tashkent. Ayritom is near the city of Termiz on the highway that links Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Alat is on the border with Turkmenistan, south of Bukhara. Vehicle and pedestrian portal radiation-monitors were installed to screen southbound traffic at Gisht-Kuprik, Ayritom, and Alat. Pedestrian portal radiation monitors were installed to screen departing passengers at the Tashkent International Airport. All radiation monitors were purchased from Aspect in Dubna, Russia and installation was completed in 2003.

An effective portal radiation-monitoring system consists of a committed management team, technical specialists, and trained operators in addition to installed monitors. In Uzbekistan, a novel collaboration has been established among the State Customs Committee and the Institute of Nuclear Physics. The State Customs Committee has overall ownership and authority for the system, its customs agents operate the monitors, and these agents are the initial responders to alarms. The Institute of Nuclear Physics provides the technical expertise that includes installation, calibration, maintenance, and secondary alarm response; mobile response units are being developed to rapidly and accurately identify seized material and recommend handling procedures. Development of alarm response procedures and training material as well as conducting the training of customs personnel is conducted collaboratively. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has worked with these parties from the projectÝs conception. This pilot system has detected several illicit shipments of radioactive material.

This work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by University of California, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract W-7405-Eng-48.