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Drones to Monitor Central Asian Uranium Legacy Sites

Drones to Monitor Central Asian Uranium Legacy Sites
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International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved the use of UAVs for the remote monitoring of radiation measurements at former uranium mining and processing areas in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. UAVs equipped with gamma spectrometers have been developed by a German consortium in collaboration with the IAEA.

The UAV will carry a gamma spectrometer that has been specially selected for its accuracy in detecting the presence and concentration of the radionuclides that may be present at the sites, the IAEA said.

The new technology will make monitoring radiation at the sites easier and safer. Up to now, experts in Central Asia monitor these sites for radioactivity on foot, wearing backpacks equipped with gamma-ray spectrometers that detect the presence of natural radionuclides, including uranium. As most uranium legacy sites are located in difficult-to-reach mountainous and seismically active areas, monitoring with backpacks is challenging and less efficient.

Drones to Monitor Central Asian Uranium Legacy Sites

The IAEA"s Coordination Group recognised this challenge for Uranium Legacy Sites (CGULS), which in 2017 partnered with a consortium of experts from Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to implement a research project to develop the drone that is currently in the final testing phase.