Airborne gamma ray spectrometry using high volume scintillation detectors, optionally in conjunction with Ge detectors, has potential for making rapid environmental measurements in response to nuclear accidents. An experimental investigation and computer simulation have been used to characterise the response of such detectors to short lived fission products. Small samples of 235U were irradiated in a research reactor for short periods, to generate fission product sources. Gamma ray spectra were recorded over a period of one year using both high volume scintillation detectors and semiconductor detectors. The main gamma emitting nuclides have been identified, and their associated signals in each detector defined. Simulation work has been used to calculate the corresponding spectra which would have been observed at airborne survey heights, or from fission product sources irradiated for a prolonged period. While Ge detectors can record a fuller range of isotopes, of interest in characterising release terms, the NaI spectra also have potential for providing data on a range of radiologically important isotopes at all stages
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