Nuclear and radioactive materials found out of regulatory control poses a threat to society and the environment. Such materials could also end up in the wrong hands of individuals or groups with malicious intent. Such groups and individuals can use nuclear material to construct harmful devices such as a nuclear explosive device with the aim of threatening stability and causing harm to the environment and population. Nuclear Forensics Laboratory (NFL) supports law enforcement agencies criminal investigations unit with the analysis of nuclear and radioactive materials found out of regulatory control. This is done through the process stages of material categorization, the laboratory characterization, the interpretation of nuclear forensic analysis results, attribution of the production process and physical origins, as well as transit routes using combined results from nuclear and conventional forensics.
NFL provide advice and assistance when it comes to the temporary storage of police nuclear evidence, as well as the chain of custody and the keeping of seized police materials at Necsa.
Responsible for regional and international cooperation and collaborations aimed at developing and optimizing human capabilities and infrastructure for forensic analysis.
Nuclear Forensic Analysis
Qualified and approved analytical methods are used for analysing special nuclear materials.
- The facility currently has state of the art specialist’s instruments with validated methods for forensic analysis using but not limited:
- Mass spectrometry: isotopic composition of U, to determine age, origin, processing, intended use as well as the capability for trace elements and isotopic analysis
- alpha spectrometry,
- Gamma spectrometry, isotopic composition for determining Age, enrichment, origin, and processing history of the material.
- XRD spectroscopy, for phase and composition of uranium characterization
- X-ray fluorescence (XRF); non-destructive elemental mapping for determining the origin, processing history.
Nuclear Forensics database library
- NFL is in the process of completing the first nuclear forensics database library of nuclear material found in South Africa
- The library will enable our scientist to conduct an easy comparison between the nuclear material available in the library and the nuclear material seized by law enforcement.
- This comparison will determine whether or not the seized material originated within the borders of South Africa or not.
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
- The core function of the CTBT is to ban any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosions. This is done through constant detecting and monitoring of seismic shockwaves from the earth, radionuclides and noble gases among others which could result from a nuclear explosion
- South Africa became a signatory to this treaty in September 1996 and later ratified the treaty in March 1999.
- Under the treaty, South Africa installed the monitoring station currently situated in Cape Town. The data received from the monitoring station in Cape Town is processed and analysed in the CTBT laboratory situated in the ACS laboratory at Necsa.
BENEFITS TO THE CLIENT
- Chain of custody, temporary storage and forensic analysis of nuclear materials confiscated during criminal investigations by the SAPS,
- Global collaboration with Nuclear Forensics Programmes/laboratories to combat illicit trafficking of nuclear materials and other radiological materials.
EXPERIENCE AND CAPABILITIES
- Core facilities and capabilities are licensed by the National Nuclear Regulator (Nuclear Installation License 37) to receive and analyse nuclear material seized or collected by law enforcement.
- Experienced and trained personnel from a wide variety of disciplines perform analytical analyses and data interpretation.
- Our staff is registered with competent and internationally recognised professional associations such as ITWG, INMM, etc.
- Our laboratory participates in the nuclear forensic International Technical Working Group inter-laboratory exercises exchanges for nuclear materials characterization to ensure integration with the world community. Collaborators include other US- DOE national laboratories (Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore); the Institute for Transuranium Elements in Karlsruhe, Germany; and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
- Participating in a SANAS Proficiency testing and inter-comparison studies
- We’ve been providing our service to SAPS
Key Consultant Scientist
Dr AN Nelwamondo
Telephone: +27 12 305 4303
Mrs Pamela Moletsane
Dr AN Nelwamondo
Telephone: +27 12 305 4303