Keeping a close eye on radiological sites

17th August 2020
Lanna Deamer

Remote monitoring and alarm system manufacturer, Omniflex provides radiological monitoring systems to help organisations handling radiological substances. The technology will help the likes of radionuclide manufacturing, sites, hospitals that use Positron Emission Tomography (PET) systems and others handling similar materials to minimise emissions and gain greater control over complex sites.

The production of radioactive materials is a crucial industry with many applications. Examples include producing tracers for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans and cancer-treating radiopharmaceuticals, tritium production for luminous objects and other species for various research applications.

Before working with ionising radiation, sites must inform the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and work to strict regulations, prescribed in The Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017.  However, there is no regulation specific to alarm and alert systems.

“A major challenge that smaller and less-resourced radiological industries face is the perceived unavailability of complete radiological alarm systems,” said Gary Bradshaw, Director at Omniflex UK. “At Omniflex, we have experienced radiological sites with multiple inter-reliant, discrete alarm systems. While all the relevant parameters, such as stack emission monitors and room radiation detectors, may be monitored, the different systems will use a variety of alarm codes and protocols.

“This can create havoc during an alarm state while everyone tries to locate the problem, which is entirely unacceptable in radiological situations where serious staff and public health consequences can follow. With such complicated systems, false alarms are more common, and the confusion could cause alarm states to be missed entirely in the worst case.”

Omniflex offers the complete radiological monitoring system for sites such as these.

This involves monitoring the radionuclide detectors required by regulation in exhaust stacks and air vents. Because these stacks and vents emit straight into the atmosphere, ensuring that no substantial radiation is emitted and all the stack emission data is logged on the Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system is vitally important. The integration is easy as Omniflex’s equipment can handle every common radiation detector protocols.

Due to this it is also easy to integrate the individual room radiation monitors into the SCADA system so that all areas of the building are being monitored visually on a virtual floor plan. The SCADA system provides alarm and alerts notifying personnel of abnormal conditions as well as restricting access to contaminated areas and providing door interlocks for the cyclotron.

Omniflex uses a range of Commercially Off The Shelf (COTS) products for these applications and have already successfully provided many of these systems across the UK. 

Now is the time for any industry handling radioactive materials to reassess the radiological alarm system that they rely on.

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