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EURopean Illicit TRAfficking Countermeasures Kit

Project description

Improving Risk management Protecting shipping containers from terrorists

A special detection kit developed by European researchers will help protect Europe’s ports from being used by terrorists for attacks on the continent.

A massive 200 million shipping containers a year are moved between the world’s major seaports, with much of the traffic inbound to Europe. The problems associated with securing such a vast number of containers provide terrorists with perhaps their best opportunity to smuggle weapons and explosives into the EU.

However, this scenario is set to become a lot less likely as a special detection kit, developed by researchers in the EURITRACK project, is deployed in ports around the continent.

The project team focused on the development and testing of a non-intrusive kit able to determine the chemical composition of objects in sealed containers, without having to open them.

Risk is too high

The most common system in place for checking the content of containers is simply not always capable of distinguishing between benign and threatening material, meaning the risk of terrorists smuggling in explosives or even ‘dirty’ bombs is quite high.

Until the new system tested by the project is deployed, inspections of containers at our seaports will continue to be based on X-ray systems, which provide limited information, such as shape and density, about objects in containers.

However, terrorists are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are able to disguise weapons and explosives from the current inspection methods.

More stringent checks

Rather than reinventing the wheel, the EURITRACK researchers decided to use the existing X-ray detection system. They added to its effectiveness by providing additional information on the type of objects that could be suspected of being terrorist threats

They specifically added information about chemical compositions of objects which cannot be disguised. A system providing details of an object’s chemical composition can identify any substance, including dangerous ones. As an added bonus, the device can identify drugs, which are also often smuggled in containers.

The researchers also decided that a two-pronged approach was needed to make the system even more sophisticated in detecting suspect materials. They developed the hardware able to conduct more stringent searches and the software to guide the system.

Simplicity of operation

Simplicity of use needed to be built in as the equipment would be manned by non-expert controllers, such as customs officials. Due to the sheer volume of container traffic, searches would also need to be conducted as quickly as possible.

EURITRACK came up with a prototype device, called the Tagged Neuron Inspection System. The device uses neutrons, tiny subatomic particles, to do the searching and identifying of potentially dangerous goods in containers. oftware specially developed for the device analyses the readings and compares them to a central database containing those given off by a range of known hazardous substances.

Making Europe safer

The research demonstrated the whole system of hardware and software, named the European Illicit Trafficking Countermeasures Kit, at a conference held in Rijeka, Croatia in September 2007.

The demonstration showed that the system could be operated by customs officers without difficulty. The full inspection of a container, including X-ray inspection using the kit, took less than 15 minutes.

The rollout will help make Europe a more secure place and will also assist EU exporters sending goods to comply with the rules set by security conscious destinations.

Call for proposal

FP6-2003-IST-2
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

STREP - Specific Targeted Research Project

Coordinator

COMMISSARIAT A L ENERGIE ATOMIQUE ET AUX ENERGIES ALTERNATIVES
Address
Rue Leblanc 25
75015 Paris 15
France
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 1 046 333

Participants (9)

JRC -JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE- EUROPEAN COMMISSION
Belgium
EU contribution
€ 215 380
Address
Rue De La Loi 200
1049 Brussels
Activity type
Research Organisations
SAPHYMO SA
France
EU contribution
€ 55 600
Address
5 Rue Du Th�re
91300 Massy
Activity type
Other
DIRECTION GENERALE DES DOUANES ET DROITS INDIRECTS
France
EU contribution
€ 35 840
Address
23 Bis, Rue De L'universite
75700 Paris
Activity type
Other
SODERN SA
France
EU contribution
€ 268 700
Address
Av. Descartes 20
94450 Limeil-brevannes
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
RUDER BOSKOVIC INSTITUTE
Croatia
EU contribution
€ 179 000
Address
Bijenicka Cesta 54
10000 Zagreb
Activity type
Research Organisations
ISTITUTO NAZIONALE DI FISICA NUCLEARE
Italy
EU contribution
€ 192 000
Address
Via Enrico Fermi 54
00044 Frascati
Activity type
Research Organisations
COSTRUZIONI APPARECCHIATURE ELETTRONICHE NUCLEARI CAEN SPA
Italy
EU contribution
€ 240 947
Address
Via Vetraia 11
55049 Viareggio
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
INSTYTUT PROBLEMOW JADROWYCH IM.ANDRZEJA SOLTANA
Poland
EU contribution
€ 168 000
Address
Ipj
05400 Swier/otwock
Activity type
Research Organisations
KUNGLIGA TEKNISKA HOEGSKOLAN
Sweden
EU contribution
€ 48 200
Address
Brinellvagen 8
100 44 Stockholm
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments