The prototype for a portable device for the detection of hazardous materials, which could be used to make a so-called “dirty bomb”, was tested successfully in St. Petersburg in April 2007.
The device is the result of a two-year NATO-Russia Science for Peace Project, co-directed by Mr. C.J. De Ruiter of TNO (Organization for Applied Scientific Research), the Netherlands and Dr. A. Kuznetsov of the Khlopin Radium Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia. The project’s aim was to design and build a prototype device to detect concealed explosives, radiological, nuclear and chemical substances.
Named SENNA, the device could have a number of different applications. These include improving transport security by on-site analysis of suspicious containers or luggage; protecting critical infrastructure or public buildings by on-site detection at facilities; and promoting better security for troops deployed in crisis-management operations by allowing on-site detection in the field.
This project clearly demonstrates the vital work of the Science for Peace and Security Programme in developing technologies for defence against terrorism, which is a shared objective of the Allies and Russia.
How does it work?
The device is based on nanosecond neutron analysis technology and includes a compact neutron generator and an array of four gamma-ray and three neutron detectors. It is a multi-sensor – this means that when the neutron generator is off, it can detect and identify radioactive and unshielded nuclear materials, and when the neutron generator is on, it becomes a detector of explosives and chemical substances, as well as of heavily shielded nuclear materials.
Due to the high penetrating ability of neutrons and high-energy gamma rays, the device can “see” through barriers and detect threat materials located inside unattended passenger luggage, transport containers, etc. The device is position sensitive – not only can it detect a hazardous material, it can also show its location inside the inspected object.
Now comparing this with UK based bomb detecting device namely ADE-651
The FBI has repeatedly issued alerts about dowsing rod devices being used as explosive detectors. It described one such device, the Quadro Tracker, as "a fraud" and told all agencies to immediately cease using it. Another alert issued in 1999 told agencies: "Warning. Do not use bogus explosives detection devices." A US Army test of a similar device found that it was unable to detect a truck carrying a tonne of TNT when it drove up behind the operator. In June 2009, the US Army carried out a laboratory test including X-ray analysis on the ADE 651 that found it to be inffective. According to Major Joe Scrocca, "The examination resulted in a determination that there was no possible means by which the ADE 651 could detect explosives and therefore was determined to be totally ineffective and fraudulent. As a result of that study, the U.S. military notified all military and civilian personnel in Iraq that the bomb detection device is ineffective and should not be relied upon as a means of insuring the safety of any personnel."
After the ADE 651 became the focus of controversy for its role in Iraq, concerns were raised in Pakistan about its employment as a bomb detector by the Pakistani security forces. A senior official at Jinnah International Airport denied that it was using the ADE 651, claiming that the Airport Security Force had designed the device in use there, but other ASF officials acknowledged that their device "operated on the same principle as ADE-651." Pakistani scientists rejected the scientific basis on which the device was claimed to work; Professor Shahid Zaidi of Karachi University told the Pakistani newspaper Dawn that "there has to be an electric, magnetic or electromagnetic field for a device to work in such a manner. Furthermore static fields don’t move around the way it is being claimed by some. Also don’t forget that there are so many radio waves of different frequencies all around us. I just don’t see how this device would work." Dawn challenged the ASF to test the device to confirm its effectiveness but the ASF refused, insisting that the device works.