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New Alarm Means Safer Waste Transport.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, has developed a smart computer system that produces an almost instantaneous alarm signal when nuclear waste transports waver off course. Drivers have been under close surveillance since last fall when a Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) truck took a wrong turn in Santa Fe, N.M. The present system tracks the truck's course, but provides no warning when there is a deviation. Operators in the WIPP Central Monitoring Room (CMR) had to observe the truck's route, watch for deviations and then respond, often causing a delay that meant the truck was miles off course.

The Advanced Surveillance Technology team, at Los Alamos, had already developed the Guardian system. The Guardian can "reason" and learn to track anomalies from a transport path or a set pattern of behavior for personnel and material in nuclear material facilities. It was quick and inexpensive to adapt it for WIPP staff, according to experts at the lab. Guardian links with the satellite tracking system, and as soon as it recognizes a stop, communication failure or route deviation, it sounds alarms and posts message windows on the computer screens for the CMR operators. However, the system can be set for certaln lengths of time if an unplanned stop due to poor road conditions or bad weather is needed.

"We realized that, without advanced surveillance experience, we could deploy a Guardian-based system to provide route assurance for WIPP quickly and effectively, and so far it's successfully tracked seven shipments," said Sharon Seitz, a technical staff member on the project.

Los Alamos is working on an enhanced version of Guardian that could be implemented on all shipments tracked by the Energy Department's National Transportation Program-Albuquerque.

Guardian also is in use in the Energy Department's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, where it remotely monitors a capacitor bank room, and in the Applied Monitoring and Transparency Laboratory as part of a protorype system to monitor nuclear weapons dismantlement.
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Defense Industrial Association
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Title Annotation:toxic disposal made better
Author:Baker, A. Duffy
Publication:National Defense
Article Type:Evaluation
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2001
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