Homeland Security:
Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance, Customs

An introduction to a practice-oriented system solution for radioactivity monitoring in emergency centers

The nuclear disaster at Fukushima has put the topic of radioactivity monitoring in civil protection on the agenda again. As soon as the "hot phase" was over in the press, work commenced on a professional level. For example, the new Euratom Directive on Radiation Protection (Directive 2013/59) was extensively revised and is now being implemented over the next four years in German radiation protection law. The German Commission on Radiological Protection (CRP) has analyzed the radiological consequences in detail and on this basis has revised the "Radiological Bases for Decisions on Measures for the Protection of the Population against Accidental Releases of Radionuclides". Furthermore, "Questions regarding the Setup and Operation of Emergency Centers" were published as uniform standards.

In 2013, the Procurement Office of the Federal Ministry of the Interior placed an order for about 900 contamination detection devices (CoMo-170 ZS) to equip the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance with modern measurement technology. This new equipment for the ATF units and the DeConP vehicles will be provided until 2016/17. Similarly, the ABC areas of various federal states and the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) were equipped with new contamination measuring instruments of the type CoMo-170 ZS.

The contamination monitor CoMo-170 ZS using the counting gas free plastic scintillation detector is well established in the entire radiation protection market, with more than 7,500 units sold so far.

NUVIA Instruments GmbH, a company specializing in radioactivity measurement systems, has developed a practical approach to the measurement equipment of emergency care centers through close contact with the different areas of CBRN protection, and would like to present this concept below. We are focusing on practical solutions, on systems that can be used easily and safely, because the stress prevailing in an emergency situation in civil protection requires a measurement technique that can be easily and safely operated!

System solutions for emergency centers

The federal states are responsible for setting up and operating emergency centers. The appropriate procedures are laid down in detail for each nuclear plant in disaster prevention plans. Emergency centers are set up after a reactor accident involving the release of radioactive material within a radius of 30 km around the nuclear power plant for the protection and care of the population.

Schematic procedure in an emergency center

This picture shows the planned procedure with the measurement technical steps. An emergency center offering a similar procedure will be needed after a terrorist attack involving the use of radioactive material.

FAMO - versatile radioactivity monitor used as a portal monitor in emergency centers

Highly contaminated persons (> 40 KBq/cm²) have to be screened in the entrance area of the emergency center to avoid cross-contamination of other less contaminated persons as far as possible. People who are contaminated above the defined limit range must proceed directly to the decontamination area.

So-called Portal Monitors (γ walk-through monitor) can be used for the screening measurement. The FAMO system is the perfect solution for this kind of measurement. It consists of 2 to 4 detector units, each with 2 flat NaI scintillation detectors.

FAMO Portal Monitor mounted on a tripod, measuring while passing through (left)
FAMO Portal Monitor used as measurement array, measurement on one side (middle)
FAMO Portal Monitor with stand, measuring while passing through (right)

The detectors are integrated into housings that can easily and quickly be mounted on smooth surfaces via suction cups. Alternatively, the system can also be mounted on tripods. Detectors mounted on tripods can also be used, for example, to monitor vehicles. The FAMO is able to respond flexibly to the installation site and to the measurement task. The FAMO system is a cost-effective solution.

CoMo-170 ZS contamination monitor with counting gas free plastic scintillator used as a mobile contamination monitor

All persons passing through the emergency center are checked for contamination. The picture with the schematic procedure shows the total throughput with different limit values. The CoMo-170 ZS is part of the basic equipment of CBRN units of fire brigades and DeConP units in civil protection. The CoMo-170 can be used - in the traditional way - to scan persons by hand. The great advantage of the CoMo-170 for such a time-consuming process is its low weight (< 800 g). A rather convincing argument when measuring up to 1,000 persons in 24 hours.

Contamination Monitor CoMo-170 ZS

The equipment directives for emergency centers, e.g. for Rhineland-Palatinate, requires 8 mobile monitors for contamination control, and 4 contamination monitors for follow-up monitoring after decontamination.

The CoMo-170 ZS can also be integrated in an alternative solution:

ECMo emergency contamination monitor

The manual scanning method using a hand-held contamination monitor is hardly suitable to monitor large groups of persons for contamination as this method is associated with a lot of stress for both parties (the person being scanned and the CBRN specialist performing the measurement). The Emergency Contamination Monitor ECMo uses the CoMo-170 systems that are already in use by civil protection and fire departments and incorporates these systems in a device which is linked to a PC-based measurement system. This allows simple and stress-reduced contamination control.

ECMo system for front/back measurement (without foot detectors)

The system can easily be adjusted in height and can therefore also be used to monitor children.

ECMo system adjusted for children

The maximum measuring range of the ECMo system detectors can be increased significantly by using absorber caps.

The CoMo-170 ZS or ECMo Emergency Contamination Monitor can also be used after the decontamination of persons for follow-up monitoring for residual contamination.

SCINTO thyroid dosimeter

In the last station of the emergency center - after decontamination and control for residual contamination - medical professionals perform a dose rate measurement to determine the thyroid dose. They compare the dose with the defined limit values to have a basis for making a decision whether iodine tablets need to be taken. When monitoring infants it is essential to measure and subtract the background existing at the measurement site. The limit value for the intake of iodine tablets for infants is 50 mSv, which corresponds to a dose rate of about 0.1 µSv/h. The normal background level is between 50-100 nSv/h (= 0.1 µSv/h). For adults, the limit value is 260 mSv, which corresponds to a dose rate of 4 µSv/h at the thyroid.

Measurement of the thyroid dose

The newly developed SCINTO Thyroid measuring system performs the complete measurement of the dose rate including calculation of the effective dose. The highly sensitive measuring device is able to determine the thyroid dose reliably within 10 seconds. Its handle allows the ergonomic use of the measuring device on the person being measured. The measured value can easily be read on the large LC-display.

Continuous civil protection after a nuclear disaster

In addition to the presented products for the emergency centers we are also offering solutions for the long-term protection of the population from radiation, after a nuclear disaster has occurred. These products have been developed and fine-tuned in the context of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Food monitoring

After a nuclear disaster emission of radioactive material can pollute solid and liquid food. For this task we offer two systems, the ANNA laboratory food counter for nuclide specific activity check of solid and liquid food and the EL25 for private use.

EL25 - food counter for private use/restaurants

As a low cost alternative we also offer our EL25. This counter is also very suitable for private use or for restaurants.

Goods monitoring

Apart from natural diversion by air and sea, radioactive contamination is also forwarded by our worldwide economy. For this reason it is extremely important to check all products manufactured and transported after the nuclear disaster for contamination.

RAMON-P - parcel controls

For fast and reliable checking for the presence of radioactive material in post parcels or deliveries (goods entrance check), S.E.A. offers a high-sensitive measuring system: RAMON-P. The parcels, letters etc. are moved through the measuring unit (detector system). The monitor uses high-sensitive scintillation detectors. The alarm is displayed optically, if desired also acoustically.

PALMO - pallet monitor

Our PALMO system is a radiation monitor with integrated γ-plastic scintillation detectors for the reliable check of pallets, grid boxes or parcels. The detector technology used for the PalMo has proved itself in practice since many years with regard to radiation monitoring in the scrap and recycling field and at border-crossing points.

LARS - floor contamination meter

The mobile, high-sensitive radiation measuring system LARS (Large Aera Radiation Scanner) is designed for fast and reliable monitoring of large surfaces. In the security sector, this system can be used for radiological risk analysis after large-area contamination, for example after a terrorist attack with radioactive material (dirty bomb).

RAMBO - stationary radiation portal monitor

With our RAMBO system you can check the cargo of trucks, railway wagons or container systems for the presence of radioactive material. For this task the RAMBO is equipped with large-area, high-sensitive γ-plastic scintillation detectors.

2 detector pillars located on each side of the driveway

As part of a dynamic measurement, vehicles are checked by 2 detector pillars located on each side of the passage. Our RAMBO system has established itself in the scrap and recycling sector, for security check at the entrance field of nuclear power plants and border control.

SCINTO - high-sensitive radiation meter

In addition to the SCINTO Thyroid Dosimeter we also offer the classical version of our SCINTO - a high-sensitive dose rate meter with NaI-scintillation detector. It is designed to detect and measure radiation, particularly in the fluctuation area of environmental background.

To avoid smuggle, illegal trade and border-crossing illegal disposal of radioactive waste, it is necessary to take increased security measures at borders, in airports, international seaports, security institutions and hazardous waste deposits in order to detect radioactive sources in a reliable way and thus avoid public danger.

Customs / security controls

The usage of the previously introduced products for the control of goods is not limited to the context of nuclear disasters: They are also suitable to protect our borders and to prevent illegal trade with radioactive material. In addition to these products we also like to present two measurement instruments, which are designed to serve the specific needs of custom controls.

RadReflex - contraband detector

The inspection of the border crossing traffic of merchandise and the control of vehicles for illicit goods, especially drugs, cigarettes, explosives and weapons is a prominent task for the customs services. The contraband detector RadReflex checks hollow spaces fast and reliably. The area to be controlled is scanned with a radioactive test source.

The radiation is reflected by the good to be measured / contraband. The measuring value is compared with known reference values. Significant deviations from the standard values are a sure indication for the presence of smuggled goods inside the hollow space.

RadReflex mounted on a telescopic pole

Downloads (PDF)

Civil Defence Brochure

Measurement Equipment for Civil Protection    

For emergency centers


For the continuous civil protection after a nuclear disaster

LARS Prospekt   CoMo Prospekt
EL 25 
CoMo Prospekt   SCINTO Prospekt


RadReflex Prospekt    

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