Monitoring every last trace

The LHC is set to reach a record energy of 6.5 TeV per beam next year and will therefore be producing high energy radiation, as will the injectors supplying it. When exposed to this radiation, some equipment could potentially become radioactive and must therefore be carefully identified and monitored... this is where TREC comes in: software developed by CERN and currently being deployed in our accelerators.


If it becomes slightly radioactive, some of the equipment that makes up CERN’s accelerators may potentially become a hazard to the people who handle or work near it. Even though the risk is usually very low, CERN is obliged to record the location of this equipment, identify it and deal with it in an appropriate manner. During LS1 for example, almost 30,000 radiation protection checks were carried out on more than 2,500 tonnes of equipment!

In 2009, going one step further in monitoring this equipment and making the Laboratory even safer, Luca Bruno, then the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) for the BE Department, proposed the creation of a computerised system to allow the systematic cataloguing of potentially radioactive material across the CERN site, and to centralise and archive all of the results of radiation protection operations: TREC* was born.

Developed by the GS Department in close collaboration with the Radiation Protection Group, TREC was integrated into the Maintenance Management Project (MMP) and now allows global traceability of radioactive equipment throughout its lifespan, right up until it is handed over to the radioactive waste processing service. This systematic monitoring also considerably helps with the handling of such equipment by the Transport Service, or when maintenance operations are required. “The software now includes a lot more options than had been envisaged at the start,” says Marc Tavlet, who is currently in charge of the project. “For example, it allows e-mails to be sent automatically to order radiation protection checks or make transport requests. And we can obtain data very quickly on the total volume of potentially radioactive material, the number of radiation checks carried out or the results of radiation measurements.”

The TREC software is now being deployed in the field, in the buffer zones around CERN’s various accelerators, so that it can be used every day by the many people responsible for equipment in the accelerator complex. TREC computers have already been installed around the LHC and the SPS, as well as in Hall 867, where radioactive equipment is handled. More are currently being installed in the PS complex. There is also a “TREC mobile” system for equipment that cannot pass through the buffer zones.

Traceability of Radioactive Equipment at CERN.

by CERN Bulletin