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Creating a community for radiological and environmental monitoring systems

The PulsRad22 workshop marked the completion of CERN’s new state-of-the-art radiation monitoring system and the creation of a new forum for discussion


PulsRad Workshop
The PulsRad Workshop at the Globe of Science and Innovation (Image: CERN)

At CERN, ionising radiation is produced by the collision of particle beams with matter. CERN’s unique facilities require innovative approaches to minimising the exposure of workers, the public and the environment, making CERN one of the recognised leaders in this field. CERN’s radiation protection (RP) is in line with best practice in Europe, and staying at the forefront in this area is a priority for the Organization.

In addition to the many RP controls and measures in place, CERN is equipped with a robust radiation and environmental monitoring system (REMS) to provide it with all means necessary to protect the public, the people working on site and the environment – both when the accelerators are being exploited to their full physics potential and during shutdowns.

CERN’s legacy monitoring system – the Area Controller (ARCON) used since the 1980s – was replaced in 2021, with the completion of a project that started in 2014: CERN Radiation Monitoring Electronics (CROME). This brand-new generation of radiation monitoring systems was developed fully in house by a small team in the HSE Radiation Protection group (HSE-RP) with specific experience and know-how in measuring mixed and pulsed radiation fields present during accelerator operation. Its mass production was carried out almost entirely at CERN, thanks to interdepartmental collaboration with TE, BE, EN, IT and EP, and further supported by industrial partners from ten countries.

In the spirit of collaboration, knowledge exchange and technology transfer, the ambition to share the benefits of this REMS solution has been alive for some time, as explains Daniel Perrin, Leader of the Instrumentation and Logistics section in HSE-RP. “While many workshops, conferences and working groups exist in various fields such as electronics, software, radiation protection and dosimetry, we had nothing of this kind for REMS. With CROME’s achievement, we felt it was high time to create such a forum.”

This is how the first PulsRad workshop came about, to celebrate the success of the CROME project and to start building a community around REMS with a particular focus on pulsed radiation monitoring. The workshop took place from 5 to 7 December 2022 in the Globe of Science and Innovation, organised by the HSE-RP group at CERN and the European Spallation Source ERIC, with support from the ITER Organization and Fusion for Energy.

Hamza Boukabache, Electronics Engineer and CROME Project Manager in HSE-RP-IL, who led the organisation of this hybrid workshop, highlighted its pioneering nature: “In industry, knowledge about radiation measurements is often kept confidential within companies. As a scientific organisation, we have the possibility to share our knowledge and experience of REMS with other research facilities. The idea is to create a space for discussion and exchange for engineers and scientists developing, deploying and operating REMS, to identify common problems and create synergies between different organisations in order to devise solutions as well as provide an entry point for newcomers to REMS.”

And the objective was met. Some 75 participants joined physically and remotely from CERN and other large scientific facilities across the globe, including ITER, SLAC National Accelerator LaboratoryDESYGSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion ResearchCHUV – Lausanne university hospitalPaul Scherrer Institute and KEK, to name a few.

Alasdair Day, a former member of CERN’s HSE-RP-IL section and now Senior Engineer for Radiation Monitoring at the European Spallation Source, was a driving force in the inception and organisation of PulsRad22: “This workshop is a beginning, and I’m really excited to see where it goes in the future. For me, being able to give assistance to specialists during a breakout session, whilst being given insights from other experts during different discussions, clearly demonstrated the worth of this event. It was an opportunity for participants to share experiences while taking something back to their facilities and institutes. This collegial fraternity can help not only us as individuals, but also our respective organisations and, from that, science as a whole.”

This community has a bright future and the next event will take place in 2024, probably at ITER.