A nuclear forensic method for determining the age of radioactive cobalt sources

Abstract of the journal article published in Analytical Methods

October 25, 2013
Luc Charbonneau, Jean-Michel Benoit, Slobodan Jovanovic,a Nadereh St-Amant,a Stephen Kiser, Michael W. Cooke, Jean-François Mercier, Kathy Nielsen, David Kelly, Pavel Samuleev, Raphael Galea, Kimberly Moore, Patrick R. B. Saull, David B. Chamberlain, Jennifer L. Steeb, Donald G. Graczyk, Yifen Tsai, Vivian S. Sullivan, Ike C. Dimayuga, Youqing Shi, Raghu Rao and Dominic Larivière

aCanadian Nuclear Safety Commission


The article summarizes the work that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Laboratory participated in within the project funded by the Canadian Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Research and Technology Initiative (CRTI). Cobalt-60 (Co-60) sources are likely candidates for use in radioactive dirty bomb devices. Determining the age of the Co-60 source would help uncover the information of its origin and history. The article describes an analytical process for the chronometry of radioactive cobalt sources both from a chemical separation and instrumental analysis point of view. The results from blind round robin exercises involving Canadian and American laboratories and based on reference sources prepared by the National Research Council of Canada are also presented to illustrate figures of merit for the proposed method. The two round robin exercises were performed using the developed separation method, and results from both exercises demonstrated the suitability of the method for correctly assessing the age of a radioactive source with a bias of less than a year.

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