Through the Emergency Organisation Radioactivity (EOR), the NEOC has access to a wide range of mobile measurement systems.
PSI and IRA emergency vehicles
Most stand-by operations relating to radioactivity can be carried out with simple measuring equipment for which the speed of intervention on site is decisive. For these tasks, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and the Institute for Applied Radiophysics (IRA) have vehicles ready for use. These are equipped with equipment to measure local dose rates and contamination. Their purpose is to swiftly determine the radiological situation on site.
Collecting and analysing samples
The NEOC provides different mobile teams to collect and analyse samples and is deployed in targeted fashion to collect additional measured data from areas affected by a radioactive incident.
Various measurement vehicles and monitoring teams are available in Switzerland. These are stationed at the nuclear power plants (NPP, temporary storage facilities), the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the Section Environmental Radioactivity (URA) of the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH), the Institute for Applied Radiophysics (IRA) and the Spiez Laboratory (LS). These measurement vehicles are used to measure dose rates and to take air and environmental samples. There are a number of different laboratories available to analyse these samples. The federal laboratories are primarily responsible for the evaluation of environmental samples, while the cantonal laboratories specialise in the analysis of foodstuffs.
Special on-site measurements
Two mobile measurement laboratories are also available to the monitoring organisations. One contains a whole-body counter, a sampling unit with a NaI-detector and various instruments for measuring the dose rate. The second vehicle is equipped with a Ge-detector and dose-rate measuring equipment. The mobile measurement laboratories can collect and analyse samples on site. Furthermore, it can be ascertained on the spot whether a person is suffering from internal irradiation, where the ingestion or inhalation of radioactivity is suspected.
On-site gamma spectrometry consists of mobile, hand-held Ge-detectors. They determine nuclide composition in the event of contamination (i.e. identify the substances involved). This information is essential for deciding on which further measures should be taken. The on-site gamma spectrometer is operated by the Spiez Laboratory and the URA and is permanently ready for use. The NEOC authorises its deployment. Once the measuring equipment is in place, results will be recorded every hour.
Aerial radiometry enables the NEOC to measure nuclide-specific deposits in the soil and activity over a large area. This is performed by a highly sensitive measuring device installed in a helicopter. In three hours, a surface area of up to 70km2 can be measured. The measured values are tracked online and are presented in a ready-to-print map on landing. Aerial radiometry is used if a larger area needs to be scanned for radioactivity, e.g. following a transport accident, plane crash or during the search for sources of radioactivity that have either been lost or acquired illegally.
In addition to the measurement vehicles, NBC officers of the Swiss Army are deployed in an emergency to undertake local measurements. They act on behalf of the NEOC. Using hand-held monitors, they can collect detailed ambient dose rate measurements and take samples.