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Feasibility Study: Gamma Spectrometry of High Activity Waste drums


  • The future “CIGEO” facility, managed by the French Nuclear Waste Agency, is designed for long-life medium and high activity waste final disposal.
  • Once built, nuclear waste from all of French industry will be shipped to this facility.
  • Some drums will go through a full characterization process, for various quality and safety checks.
  • Around 150 types of drums containing about 200 different radionuclides are expected.

Key Drivers:

  • Need to precisely assess the footprint required for spectrometry measurements.
    • Large concrete walls are mandatory for radiological protection, making civil work a significant cost for the future facility.
    • Space optimization and forecast is key in this project.
  • Measurement range: from Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) to High Level Waste (HLW), up to 1015 Bq at 137Cs, without detector saturation.
    • Ensure that the waste activity level remains in the range allowed by the license of the storage facility.
    • Declare the activity to the National Agency of Radioactive Waste for costs and scenario forecasts.
  • Final study report to be delivered within two months.

Instruments & Techniques Used:

  1. HPGe Cryo-Pulse® 5 Plus detectors
  2. MCNP® calculation code

CANBERRA™ Solution:

  • From the list of around 150 types of drums, 12 “bounding” geometries have been defined, taking into account variety in terms of:
    • Composition and density.
    • Shielding.
    • Internal volume and shape.
  • Parametric studies using MCNP calculation code have been performed.
    • For each bounding geometry, one calculation is performed per emitter radionuclide.
    • Automation of the calculations allowed about 600 calculations to be performed in less than one month.
    • Studying up to four measurement configurations in one model made efficient use of the allowed calculation time.
    • This approach allowed a large flexibility in the analysis.
  • A specific Excel sheet has been delivered for analysis of results which allows the customer to “build” the detector response of the desired drum, with clear display of the results.
  • The measurement configuration has been optimized for the most penalizing drum to be measured using advanced MCNP calculation techniques to allow convergence with highly collimated detectors.


  • Complexity problem reduction achieved by the CANBERRA M&E Team for planning and cost optimization.
  • Definition of an adaptive measurement system with guarantee of measurement ability for every expected drum.
  • Excel sheet reports can be re-used by the customer for further analysis in the next stages of the project without additional cost.
  • Civil work cost assessment can be performed based on reliable information.
  • On Time Delivery of the final report in spite of the tight schedule thanks to responsiveness of the CANBERRA M&E Experts from various countries.

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