As a protective measure for the end consumer and for the country, the metal materials entering from outside the EU must undergo radiometric monitoring. To better understand what this process is and how it is carried out within the terminal of VTE, we turned to Enzo Montagna, a physicist and qualified expert at the Port of Genova.
What is radiometric monitoring?
Radiometric monitoring is the inspection of scrap, semi-finished, and all other metal materials in order to detect radioactive anomalies. We are largely concerned with goods coming from outside the EU.
In Italy, the Legislative Decree Number 100 from 2011 regulates radiometric monitoring. There is a procedure that all terminals in the country must follow.
How does it work?
For the actual radiometric control, one must take radioactive measurements near the external walls of a container with specific and very sensitive instruments, which are equipped with a probe that has a sodium iodide scintillator, in order to detect even the tiniest radioactive anomalies (radiometric anomalies).
If the test does show outliers of radioactivity, the container is withheld for further verification.
What happens in this case?
We then proceed with a second exam, using an instrument called a “spectrometer,” which allows us to recognize the type of radionuclide (natural or artificial) that’s present, and therefore, provide a radiological risk assessment for the workers and for the population.
Often, it’s just a false alarm. Some products, such as tiles or even bananas (because of the potassium) contain small quantities of natural radionuclides.
In any case, it is fundamental to further investigate every radiometric anomaly, no matter how small, because the radioactive emission of any material eventually identified as contaminated could be almost completely shielded by the other goods inside the container or those located around it.
How do you assess the level of attention at the Voltri-Pra terminal?
Voltri-Pra is an advanced terminal in terms of radioprotection. It carries out all of the necessary procedures for protecting workers and all the end consumers, who are guaranteed to receive products that are always in compliance with regulations.