Fixed Point Surveillance Network

The Fixed Point Surveillance (FPS) network is the result of a project to build a real time radiation detection system across Canada. This network monitors public doses from radioactive materials in the air and would also assist to make Canada better prepared in case of nuclear or radiological incidents.

The network is used primarily to monitor the total external gamma dose rate from all sources, measured as Air KERMA (Kinetic Energy Released in Matter) as well as the external gamma dose rates from three radioactive gases which escape into the atmosphere during normal operation of nuclear facilities. These three gases are Argon-41, Xenon-133 and Xenon-135. In addition, the system is calibrated for external gamma dose rate from airborne Iodine-131. The minimum detectable dose rates using the FPS network for each of these nuclides is shown in Table 1 below and represent only a few percent of typical background Air KERMA dose rates (typical background is approximately between 15 nGy/hr and 28 nGy/hr throughout the network). Additionally, these detection limits are well below the acceptable public dose limit of 1,000,000 nGy/year as published by the  Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in their Radiation Protection regulations.

Table 1 - FPS network minimum detectable dose rates for each of the three primary radioactive gases being monitored.
Dose Rates
Nuclide Name Ar-41 Xe-133 Xe-135
Minimum Detectable Dose (nGy/month) 6 3 3

The data from the FPS network can also be used for atmospheric monitoring of many radioactive materials commonly used in medical or industrial applications throughout the country. Iodine-131 is an example of a medical isotope commonly used to diagnose and treat thyroid conditions. Further still, the network can provide information on the general ambient dose rate due to naturally occurring radioactive substances in the ground, air and water.

The network consists of radiation detection equipment located across the country and a single Data Centre that collects, analyses and stores the data measured at each of these monitoring stations. This data centre is located at Health Canada's Radiation Protection Bureau (RPB) in Ottawa and communicates with the stations on a daily or as-needed basis. Currently the network includes monitoring stations installed by Health Canada plus several stations that are owned and operated by industrial partners who share their data with Health Canada. Please click the following link to see a map of the system. FPS Network Map.

The network was partially funded by the federal government's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Research and Technology Initiative (CRTI).

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