Rijeka Field Tests, May 2023
The first Field Tests in the ENTRANCE project, involving 50 people, were held at the port of Rijeka in Croatia from 8thto 26th May 2023. With an annual cargo throughput of 13.6 million tonnes (2020), mostly of oil, bulk cargo and general cargo, Rijeka is the country’s largest commercial port.
Containers suspected by Croatia Customs of having contraband, illegal weapons, drugs, explosives or even Special Nuclear Materials hidden inside, are pulled out for scanning and further inspection at the nearby inspection point, which is where the ENTRANCE technologies had been deployed for the Tests.
During the Field Tests, real sources were hidden inside lorry containers – explosives, drugs, radioactive sources and nuclear material – so the technologies were tested and assessed in a series of real-life and challenging scenarios, under the watchful eye of Croatia Customs.
Non-Intrusive Inspection technologies
The 1st and 2nd level NII technologies being developed by the technical partners in ENTRANCE are designed to enhance customs authorities’ capabilities and make it easier and quicker to detect and inspect these high-risk shipments. Greatly improved detection capabilities mean that more illegal goods and dangerous items can be quickly taken out of circulation. Detection times have also been improved, so that containers can be examined more quickly and more efficiently, protecting European society against a wide and growing range of threats, whilst importantly reducing the disruption to the cross-border flow of goods.
Advanced X-ray (1st level) (Smiths Detection)
AdvancedX-ray functionalities were demonstrated in a Smiths Detection 7MeV mobile container X-ray scanner, providing detailed image information on the positioning of a given threat inside the container – whether on the source side, the detector side, or in the middle. The technology makes it possible to see through the container wall and highlight any organic threat materials. Resultant images are similar to a backscatter X-ray, but with benefit of the higher penetration provided by transmission X-ray. It can also allow the operator to detect any organic material even if its location is obscured by metal.
Radiation Portal Monitor (1st level) (Bertin Technologies)
A new Rapid Radiation Portal Monitor (RPM) system (with three detectors positioned in line) was used to detect radioactive sources passing it at speeds of up to 30 km/h, compared to the current standard speed of 8 km/h, which represents a major enhancement to the technology. This is a world first and one of the major achievements in the project. The data acquired from lorries in several configurations of radioactive sources and shielding has provided an important database, which is now being further studied to help us improve the detection system even further.
Photofission (2nd level) (CEA)
Developed by CEA in conjunction with Smiths Detection, the Photofission system is based on the 7 MeV mobile scanner and is another world first in the project. The photofission system is deployed as a second line technology to detect Special Nuclear Material (SNM), such as uranium and plutonium isotopes. Using samples of real nuclear material hidden in containers, the system can detect two complementary photofission signatures: delayed neutrons and delayed gamma-rays, countering matrix effects and potential shielding used by smugglers. Additional development work has been carried out to enable the system to be controlled remotely and to provide a user-friendly interface for customs’ officers.
Rapidly Relocatable Tagged Neutron Inspection System (2nd level) (CEA + University of Padova)
RRTNIS is deployed following the primary identification of suspicious items by the X-ray scanner. This 2nd level neutron inspection is capable of detecting explosives, illicit drugs and a series of chemical elements that could be used in chemical warfare (such as sulfur, phosphorus, fluorine, sodium, etc.) as well as for other illicit purposes. Used in conjunction with the advanced X-ray system, by focussing the voxel inspection in 3D, the noise resulting from any surrounding masking materials is reduced, resulting in improved material recognition. Other improvements include increased sensitivity and improved threat mass detectability with AI algorithms and a user-friendly interface with expert and non-expert user modes.
Mobile Radiation Detection System (1st + 2nd levels) (Arktis Radiation Detectors)
A rapidly relocatable radiation detection system, transportable in two cases and capable of being moved by a single operator, was used to detect neutron and gamma radiation. It can be used either as a 1st level control in container compounds where an RPM is either not available or feasible, or as a 2nd level control to provide spectroscopic information following an RPM gamma alarm. During the Tests, the system was installed in a static van and scanned containers passing speeds of 5-10 km/h containing various radionuclides. Powered by batteries, the kit was also positioned in a moving van scanning containers while moving at ~ 10km/h.
ENARTIS (Smiths Detection)
This system centralises the inspection results of the various technologies in the ENTRANCE project: X-ray scanner, RRTNIS system, Photofission device and RPMs. It is also an AI platform that automatically assesses the X-ray image to determine if a scanned container is truly empty, to detect weapons or cigarettes in the cargo and any objects hidden in a refrigerator unit. It can also locate similar images to the one being analysed in the database, which helps the operator decide whether the reviewed image contains what has been declared by the importer/exporter. And finally, it will help the operator to select which cargo should be inspected further by combining the results of multiple risk assessment tools using Federated Learning to ensure data privacy.
Field Tests results and what’s next
Next stop is Dobra in Slovakia for the second and final set of Field Tests in September 2023, which will see the NII technologies being used to detect contraband in high density cargo at a rail border crossing point. A full analysis of the results from Rijeka is currently being carried out and will be submitted together with the Dobra results to the European Commission as part of the project’s formal deliverables.
We would like to express our sincere thanks first to Croatia Customs, the Ministry of Interior and to the Ruder Boskovic Institute, who together managed such a successful set of Field Tests, and also to Christine Mer and her team from CEA for organising and coordinating the Tests.
A full report on all the Tests’ results will also be presented at the Final Conference in Paris on 16th November. If you are interested in attending the Conference, please get in touch via the Contact Us page on the website. Full registration details will also be available in due course on this site and on social media.