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Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

Pacific Northwest National Lab creates, licenses system to secure radiological material in Latin America

© PNNL

A technology system developed and licensed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to track and secure radiological material will be produced and deployed into Latin America under a new arrangement between PNNL and Golden Security Services of Miami.

The Mobile Source Transit Security (MSTS) system is meant to protect against radiological dispersal devices — mostly low-grade devices whose power lies in fear, property contamination, and costly cleanups — by defending the material that makes them possible from theft, loss or tampering. Through Golden Security Services, that technology will now be deployed to the private sector.

“Technology transfer to industry is an important mission of the Laboratory, especially in the area of nuclear security where the consequences can be severe,” said Kannan Krishnaswami, who manages commercialization of national security technologies for PNNL. “Partnering with industry allows for such security solutions to be commercially deployed, allowing PNNL to refocus its efforts on the next generation of scientific and technical challenges.”

Radioactive materials have a number of mundane uses, especially in the oil, gas drilling, and welding industries. Traditionally the materials are well-regulated to guarantee their intended purpose, but the threat of theft always remains. MSDS might not be able to stop the thefts entirely, but it utilizes detection devices and radio frequency tags to track the devices that house any radiological material. It is the first line of defense, able to determine if a radiological source moves from where it’s supposed to be — and alerting officials if so — and to detect changes in radiation levels, which could indicate a source was removed from its shielding. The system is also linked to GPS positioning and decision processing software.

Under an exclusive contract, Golden will make MSDS available to companies that manage these sources, commercializing it for Mexico, Central America, and South America. They also have non-exclusive rights to the technology in the United States and Canada.

“We are very excited to have several contracts already in place in Latin America to deploy this technology, and an overwhelming interest from a broad range of companies that are looking for a cost-effective solution to protect their radiological sources across the region,” Juan Bernal, CEO at Golden Security Services, said. “PNNL’s technology is a valuable addition to our portfolio of products and services designed to provide physical protection to radioactive materials around the world.”