Combating Nuclear Smuggling: DHS's Program to Procure and Deploy Advanced Radiation Detection Portal Monitors Is Likely to Exceed the Department's Previous Cost Estimates
Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, combating terrorism has been one of the nation's highest priorities. As part of that effort, preventing nuclear and radioactive material from being smuggled into the United States--perhaps to be used by terrorists in a nuclear weapon or in a radiological dispersal device (a "dirty bomb")--has become a key national security objective. On April 15, 2005, the president directed the establishment, within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), whose duties include acquiring and supporting the deployment of radiation detection equipment. In October 2006, Congress enacted the SAFE Port Act, which made DNDO responsible for the development, testing, acquisition and deployment of a system to detect radiation at U.S. ports of entry. An important component of this system is the deployment of radiation portal monitors, large stationary detectors through which cargo containers and trucks pass as they enter the United States. Prior to DNDO's creation, another DHS agency--U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)--managed programs for deployment of radiation detection equipment. In 2002, CBP began the radiation portal monitor project, deploying radiation detection equipment at U.S. ports of entry. This program initially deployed portal monitors, known as polyvinyl toluene monitors (PVT), and handheld detection technologies, such as radioactive isotope identification devices (RIID). CBP also established a system of standard operating procedures to guide its officers in the use of this equipment. Current procedures include conducting primary inspections with PVTs to detect the presence of radioactivity, and secondary inspections with PVTs and RIIDs to confirm and identify the source and determine whether it constitutes a threat. After its creation, DNDO assumed responsibility for the development, testing, and deployment of radiation detection equipment, while CBP maintained its role of ...
Date: September 22, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
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