Space telecommunications technology developed by ESA is helping the Ukrainian authorities to decrease risks of radioactive contamination. In a pilot project, trucks transporting nuclear waste are now being equipped with mobile terminals to transmit, via satellite, data on radiation levels as well as their locations to an Emergency Control Centre.
Such mobile links are of vital importance to the transport of dangerous goods in Ukraine, as no public land mobile networks are available.
Two PRODAT-2 terminals were installed in May 1994. Two more terminals are being sent to Ukraine to expand the scope of the project.
Ukraine has five nuclear power stations and six large nuclear waste storage facilities. In particular the shutdown of Chernobyl, for which financial support is being offered by the European Union and the G-7 summit, would involve the transport of large volumes of nuclear waste to storage points.
The Ukrainian authorities are fully satisfied with the performance of PRODAT-2 and are proposing to use the system for other tasks. For example, it is now planned to equip helicopters with PRODAT terminals to transmit environmental data in real-time, for instance to emergency response teams.
PRODAT-2 terminals, which for this project are using ESA's MARECS-A satellite, can provide very secure links, are interconnectable with a wide range of public networks and have a very short response time.
These mobile terminals were developed under contract to ESA by FIAR of Italy. The pilot project in Ukraine is being carried out jointly by ESA, FIAR, the Ukrainian Space Agency, the Ministry for Chernobyl, and the Institute of High Technology in Kiev.