Firms say new gear visually detects radiation hot spots


A number of companies have started marketing equipment and devices that enable inspectors to visually detect radiation hot spots.

The devices are expected to be a great help to municipalities and construction companies engaged in decontamination work in areas affected by the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Hitachi Consumer Electronics Co. has developed a camera that can detect gamma rays emitted by radioactive substances 10 or more meters away.

The box-shaped device, which weighs 16.8 kg and measures 34 cm in all dimensions, is highly portable, the company says.

It detects three kinds of radioactive material — cesium-134, cesium-137 and iodine-131.

The operator set ups the camera and the accompanying notebook computer loaded with the necessary software.

The camera takes images of the area being examined and they are displayed on the computer screen, with radioactive contamination appearing as different colors — high levels show up as red or yellow.

Hitachi Consumer Electronics, a unit of electronics giant Hitachi Ltd., said it developed the device by employing technology used for medical equipment. The radiation detector does not require special knowledge, it said.

The Tokyo-based company started selling the equipment in late March to municipalities and construction companies engaged in decontamination work.

It is manufactured on request and sells for about ¥30 million, according to the company.

“We will continue developing radiation measuring products to support decontamination operations, and make efforts to enhance its functions and at the same time lower the price,” an official at Hitachi Consumer Electronics said.

Toshiba Corp. began selling in April a 9.8-kg portable gamma camera that also displays images of radioactive contamination in colors. The price is ¥12 million.

And in late March, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced it had developed a special camera employing a suite of radiation detection sensors to be mounted on Japan’s next-generation X-ray astronomy satellite.

The camera, developed at the request of Tepco, features a wide-angle lens of about 180 degrees, similar to a fish eye lens, and can precisely gauge the presence of radioactive substances over a wide area.