Screening Cargo Containers to Remove a Terrorist Threat

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Each year some 48 million cargo containers move between the world's ports. More than 6 million of these enter the U.S., but only about 2 percent are opened and inspected when they arrive at U.S. seaports. The West Coast ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach, Oakland, and Seattle alone process 11,000 containers per day, or about 8 containers per minute. Because of this high traffic volume, U.S. seaports are especially vulnerable to a terrorist attack. Illicit radioactive materials could be hidden in any one of the cargo-filled containers that arrive at U.S. ports. Yet, searching every shipment would be bring legitimate ... continued below

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6 p. (0.3 MB)

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Hazi, A September 20, 2005.

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Each year some 48 million cargo containers move between the world's ports. More than 6 million of these enter the U.S., but only about 2 percent are opened and inspected when they arrive at U.S. seaports. The West Coast ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach, Oakland, and Seattle alone process 11,000 containers per day, or about 8 containers per minute. Because of this high traffic volume, U.S. seaports are especially vulnerable to a terrorist attack. Illicit radioactive materials could be hidden in any one of the cargo-filled containers that arrive at U.S. ports. Yet, searching every shipment would be bring legitimate commercial activities to a halt. Improving security at U.S. ports is thus one of the nation's most difficult technical and practical challenges because the systems developed for screening cargo must operate in concert with ongoing seaport activities. Working at this intersection of commerce and national security, Lawrence Livermore researchers are applying their expertise in radiation science and detection to develop improved technologies for detecting hidden radioactive materials. One new technology being designed and tested at the Laboratory is a neutron interrogation system for cargo containers. This system will quickly screen incoming shipments to ensure that nuclear materials such as plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) are not smuggled into the U.S.

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6 p. (0.3 MB)

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PDF-file: 6 pages; size: 0.3 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: UCRL-TR-215721
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/883727 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 883727
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc892033

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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Creation Date

  • September 20, 2005

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 23, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • April 13, 2017, 6:23 p.m.

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Hazi, A. Screening Cargo Containers to Remove a Terrorist Threat, report, September 20, 2005; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc892033/: accessed September 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.