Study of gamma-ray background noise for radioactive waste drum characterization with plastic scintillators
CEA, DEN, Cadarache, DTN, SMTA, Nuclear Measurement Laboratory
2 Orano Business Unit Recycling
Published online: 20 January 2020
In the framework of the radioactive waste drum characterization using neutron coincidence counting, the Nuclear Measurement Laboratory of CEA Cadarache is studying plastic scintillators as an alternative to ideal but costly 3He gas proportional counters. Plastic scintillators are at least 5 times cheaper for the same detection efficiency, and in addition, they detect fast neutrons about three orders of magnitude faster than 3He detectors. However, they are sensitive to gamma rays, which implies the necessity to identify precisely gamma background sources that may affect the useful signal. This paper presents a detailed analysis of the gamma-ray spectrum of a radioactive waste drum containing glove box filters contaminated by plutonium dioxide. Gamma emissions accompanying inelastic scattering (n,n’) and (α,n) reactions that can lead to neutron-gamma coincidences parasitizing useful coincidences from plutonium spontaneous fissions are identified. Some of these parasitic gamma rays having energies up to several MeV, we plan to reject high-energy scintillator pulses with an electronics rejection threshold above 1 MeV, which should preserve the major part of useful fission neutron pulses.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2020
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.