The use of radiation techniques in non-destructive testing (NDT) during the construction of public buildings, bridges and utility pipelines can significantly minimize the damage caused by natural disasters and save lives, concluded panellists at a side event during the 62nd IAEA General Conference today. Participants discussed key nuclear techniques for NDT and how the IAEA has assisted governments to use this technology for evaluating the integrity of structures in Nepal, Ecuador and Mexico, following earthquakes.
Industrial radiography, the most common NDT technique, uses short wave X-rays, gamma rays and neutrons to test the integrity of civil structures without causing any damage to them. It relies on the unique absorption characteristics of various materials. Checking the quality of buildings regularly with NDT throughout their entire lifespan, including the building phase, can help avoid unexpected collapses, experts said.
“There are multiple uses of NDT related to the management of natural disasters. This technology can be applied before an earthquake to prevent a possible collapse, during the emergency caused by the earthquake to evaluate the usability of damaged buildings, and after the earthquake for the design of reconstruction interventions,” said Dario Foppoli, Technical Director of Foppoli Moretta e Associati Consulting Engineers.
In case of a natural disaster, cultural heritage sites, important public buildings as well as pipe distribution networks can get damaged. Although some structures could remain standing after an earthquake, they may have developed hidden cracks, which could pose further risks if not detected early and remediated quickly. The use of NDT is critical in discovering such hidden flaws in buildings.