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effective Container inspection at BORDer control points

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - C-BORD (effective Container inspection at BORDer control points)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2018-11-30

Control of cargo containers has been a main challenge in Homeland Security applications whose importance must be viewed in light of recent terrorist attacks. To protect EU borders, many different threat materials are of concern for customs, terminal operators and freight forwarders who work to secure the increasing volume of goods imported and exported against threats while facilitating trade. Techniques such as X-ray imaging and radiation portal monitors are well-adapted to controlling cargo containers. However, an improvement of existing technologies and their association with new technologies can better address a wide range of threats.
The C-BORD project developed and tested inspection toolbox of container freight with non-intrusive inspection (NII) techniques, capable of detecting explosives, chemical warfare agents, illicit drugs, tobacco, stowaways and Special Nuclear Material (SNM). By combining, NII technologies, C-BORD aimed at increasing the efficiency in container NII, reducing false alarms, maximising effectiveness and reducing safety risks for customs agents when opening containers for inspection.
To achieve these aims, C-BORD developed further five technologies beyond the current state-of-the-art: non-destructive passive measurement, active photon interrogation, tagged neutron inspection, evaporation based detection, and advanced X-ray imaging. The data from these complimentary devices was merged in a common user interface based on the X-ray image for customs decision-making. C-BORD developments were validated through deployment in operational conditions in three countries with different types of border crossing points. Three configurations were tested to assess technological breakthroughs in operational conditions with mock-up or commercial containers selected by customs. The first configuration was adapted to automated fixed installations with high-energy scanning (Rotterdam), the second focused on relocatable solutions for container terminals with medium energy scanning (Gdansk) and the third was dedicated to mobile solutions for road border checks (Hungary).
Customs practitioners specified the technology requirements to ensure the developments meet their needs.
The integration of data in one system, in one Graphical User Interface, resulted into a single user environment offering a coherent use of technologies. Customs partners have tested the software displaying data from passive detection and x-ray systems as well as other devices. Assessment plans were done for the five technologies and the system as a whole.
X-ray inspection is commonly used by customs to detect non-radiological threats (e.g. drugs, tobacco, arms). The partner Smiths Detection has tested a method to correct x-ray image artefacts caused by movement of the x-ray scanner boom with successful results. A new representation for improving material discrimination was also investigated to identify objects in cargo by de-overlapping them from background and surroundings. Additional work on radiation scattering has led to an improvement in the quality of material discrimination data.
Radiation Portal Monitors (RPMs) are also used today to control radiological and nuclear threats. Symetrica has produced a new mobile detection system that can be deployed as a rapidly relocatable portal or a fully mobile detection system. The background algorithms developed have shown a decrease of nuisance alarms from Naturally Occurring Nuclear Materials (NORMs) during testing. CEA has developed with the company Bertin Cie relocatable portal systems designed to be implemented whatever the location indoor or outdoor. Partners have also developed passive detector modules, which can be physically integrated in the Smiths Detection mobile x-ray trailer. The combination of cargo manifest and x-ray image data with the radiation screening in a common user interface (CUI) informs on source location. Thus, informing RPMs on cargo density allowed an increase of the the radiological sensitivity of the system, taking into account background-shifting effects due to the truck itself.
The Rapidly Relocatable Tagged Neutron Inspection System (RRTNIS) showed potential particularly for detecting explosives in cargo containers. C-BORD aimed significantly reduce the size of previous prototypes and the necessary restricted area. Mechanical components have been designed to incorporate radiological shielding in the external case. Doing this, the TNIS integration in a testing area is facilitate because no concrete wall or building are necessary. TNIS system is self-shielding. Advanced algorithmic solutions are being developed to performed gamma-ray spectra processing and provide rapid threat identification.
The photofission technique uses a high-energy x-ray system to detect SNM even when shielded. Tests were carried out with the sub-systems in the CEA SAPHIR facility in collaboration with partners NCBJ and Symetrica. The was integrated within existing Rotterdam X-ray systems.
Evaporation Based Detection combining a pre-concentration step, diamond-based microbalances, odorant binding proteins and machine learning to detect a broad range of substances. The challenge in C-BORD was to apply this technique to the analysis of large cargo containers. The sub-systems have been integrated on the rapidly relocatable custom-built trolley.
The licensing and field validation protocols for the three test sites have been done. Finally yet importantly, activities were governed by the standard research ethical principles relative to the safety and well-being of researchers, the public, private property and the environment. All trials were subject to authorisations from the appropriate national civilian health & safety authorities in charge of hazardous materials and active detection methods.
The C-BORD live Demonstration of the X-ray Users Interface showed higher resolution, higher performance on un-even ground, and improved scatter compensation. The use Nuclear Detection within a common User Interface Integration Platform convinced the customs of its potential to contribute to the decision making.
Complementary benefit comes by invoking a new second line of non-intrusive detection. In C-BORD in this second line of detection, an anomaly in first line is further probed by tagged neutron inspection or photofission depending on the nature (Drugs, explosives or SNM) of the suspected target. Without opening, the container, within a short time frame, additional information in produced either by identifying the threat as such or by abrogating the anomaly because it happens to be benign. Both the successful detection of targeted drugs and explosive within containers (RRTNIS) and the deep penetration of SNM verification within containers (Photofission), were done in real condition, with real targets. This represents a great European success for research and customs.
Illustrations from the excellent trial data and user feedback bring additional value in Assessment of the underlying technologies.
The C-Bord Project was an exciting project that delivered and that has pushed traditional inspection capabilities to a new level.
cargo containers and truck with C-BORD logo