Cat litter, fertilizer, and many other commercially-available products are naturally radioactive. These materials, and many others like them, are common commodities in cargo entering the United States. These materials are the cause of many innocent nuisance alarms—so testing is not complete without characterizing the performance of a portal monitor to benign sources. Minimizing the response of an RPM to NORM cargo helps to ensure the free flow of commerce into the United States and around the world.

The ITIL maintains ton-quantities of standardized NORM and benign cargo commodities. T-Shirts (textiles), granite, clay tile, fertilizer, kitty litter and many other materials can be found at the test track in easily-manageable containers, ready to be loaded into shipping containers to simulate cargo. Collectively, this mock cargo is an important element of PNNL’s testing ability at the Interdiction Technology and Integration Laboratory.

In addition to NORM and benign cargo materials, the ITIL maintains a full suite of radioactive materials—including special nuclear materials like plutonium and uranium—as well as personnel who are trained to handle these materials.