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RFID Tracks Radioactive Materials Used by Oil Services Providers to Explore New Well Sites
The system, developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is being tested by Baker Hughes to monitor the location and usage of such materials.
May 18, 2015—
Following approximately 18 months of development and testing, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is proceeding to field pilots of a system to wirelessly and automatically track radioactive materials used in oil well drilling to ensure that they do not end up in the wrong hands.
PNNL, located in Richland Wash., is one of 17 U.S. Department of Energy research facilities in the United States aimed at finding energy solutions, among other goals. In 2004, the National Nuclear Security Administration launched an effort to identify, secure, remove or manage the disposition of high-risk vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials. This project is currently funded through the National Nuclear Security Administration's Global Material Security, Radiological Security Program.
The radioactive sources, which are transported from a vault at a regional home base to these well-logging sites, are vulnerable to theft by terrorists, or to other damage or loss during transportation or use onsite. Therefore, in 2014, PNNL launched a project to develop the system, known as Mobile Source Transit Security (MSTS). The project has led to the development of a solution that uses RFID and satellite communication technologies, along with sensors, to track the radioactive sources.
The truck driver may need to transport the sources a long distance. Because the trip could take several days, the driver could, in some cases, park the truck at hotels overnight, as well as at other sites of fueling or rest stops. The sources' security becomes vulnerable at such times.
PNNL began looking into technology solutions to create an automated system of tracking the material from the vault to the drill site and back. It worked closely with Baker Hughes, the oil and gas services provider that transports the sources.
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