[ RadSafe ] Radiation screening devices beef up US port security

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 21 17:01:21 CDT 2005


Radiation screening devices beef up US port security
Radiation cargo-scanning devices installed at CA ports
Moscow aims to prevent illegal nuclear trafficking
India gave too much away in nuclear deal with United States

Radiation screening devices beef up US port security

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. border guards have increased cargo 
inspections six-fold since the Sept. 11 attacks, a customs official 
said Wednesday during a visit to the nation's busiest port, but 
critics say the ports are still vulnerable.

Robert Bonner, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 
said the department has been installing devices such as radiation 
portal monitors, which screen trucks and cargo for the presence of 
nuclear and radiological devices.

The Bush administration says around $700 million in federal grants 
have gone toward protecting ports but critics, such as Democratic 
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, argue only a fraction of that money 
has been spent and ports are vulnerable.

Bonner said the port of Los Angeles, which handles about 40 percent 
of incoming container traffic, was one of the first seaports to get 
radiation portal monitors.

Fourteen such monitors are in use at the port and another 76 will be 
installed by the end of the year, Bonner said.

The department expects to have 2,398 such systems by 2009 at seaports 
across the nation, he said.

Containers trucks are screened in seconds with the new technology. 
About one in 100 containers set off an alarm, Bonner said. All the 
tested containers had been found to carry innocuous materials.

Bonner also said U.S. customs officials have been posted in 37 
foreign ports to pre-screen cargo destined for the United States.

Those ports, which include the 20 busiest ports in the world such as 
Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Rotterdam, account for about three-
quarters of all containers shipped to the United States.

Radiation cargo-scanning devices installed at ports of Long Beach, 
Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The head of the U.S Border Patrol unveiled 
radiation detectors to scan incoming ocean cargo for nuclear weapons 
and dirty bombs, a measure he says will not choke the flow of trade 
at the nation's busiest port complex.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner said the 
20-foot-(six-meter-)high devices would substantially boost security 
at the Los Angeles-Long Beach harbor complex without causing major 

"We have to save American lives, but we also have to do it in a way 
... that preserves American livelihoods," Bonner said during a visit 
Wednesday to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

The dual ports handle more than 40 percent of all cargo shipped into 
this country, and 80 percent of the imports from Asian manufacturing 
countries such as China and India.

The federal government has installed about 14 of the monitors, with 
plans to install a total of 90 by year's end.

Trucks carrying cargo unloaded from ships will pass through the 
systems, a process that takes a matter of seconds.

If the machines find signs of radiation, the container will get 
another scan and possibly an inspection by hand-held devices to help 
identify how much and what kind of radiation is present. That 
secondary inspection can last 10 minutes or longer.

Should authorities still have trouble identifying the container's 
contents, data will be sent to a federal research center in Virginia 
to determine whether the cargo is harmless or contains plutonium or 
highly enriched uranium, which can be used to produce nuclear 

In the meantime, the container could be isolated instead of closing 
the terminal.

"We're serious about doing everything we reasonably can to secure 
this port, "Bonner said.

Nearly 540 radiation portal monitors, which cost approximately 
$250,000 (207,245) each and are federally funded, are being used at 
seaports and border crossings nationwide, officials said.

About one out of every 100 to 150 containers bears cargo that sets 
off the scanner, prompting a secondary inspection, officials said. 
The error rate is about one in 10,000.

Still, terminal operators and shipping companies aren't overly 
concerned about delays, said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Pacific 
Merchant Shipping Association, which represents the ocean carriers 
and terminals.

"Right now there's a fair amount of confidence that these things work 
and work well," he said.

New command center in Moscow aims to prevent illegal nuclear 

MOSCOW (AP) - U.S. and Russian officials on Thursday inaugurated a 
new U.S-financed command center aimed at improving Russia's ability 
to prevent illegal trafficking of nuclear materials.

The center in Moscow will automatically receive data from border 
posts across the vast Russian territory, which until now had 
communicated by telephone or electronic mail with headquarters in the 
Russian capital.

"As partners in the war on terrorism, we hope we can build on this 
program and strengthen our cooperation in this field," said Daniel 
Russell, deputy U.S ambassador to Russia.

The United States for several years has been financing programs aimed 
at improving nuclear security in Russia and preventing terrorists 
from getting their hands on nuclear fuels.

The deputy head of the Russian customs service, Vladimir Shamakhov, 
said 80 percent of border posts were currently equipped with 
computers able to link up to the new control center. He said it would 
take three years for the rest of the country's frontier posts to be 
connected to the centralized system.

"Russia, as you know, has the largest borders in the world. There are 
13 time zones in this territory," he said, adding that many border 
posts were located in isolated areas.

In 2004, border guards on 200 occasions prevented materials with high 
levels of radioactivity from illegally crossing the frontier, he 
said. In 95 percent of those cases, monitoring equipment detected the 
radioactivity. Only in one in five cases was the material being 
exported from Russia; 80 percent was entering the country, he said.

Since 1998, the United States has provided millions of dollars 
(euros) to help strengthen Russian border controls over the transport 
of nuclear and fissile materials, including the purchase of hundreds 
of portable monitors.

Former prime minister says India gave too much away in nuclear deal 
with United States

NEW DELHI (AP) - The man who was prime minister when India tested 
nuclear weapons in 1998 said his country has given away more than it 
gained in a deal with the United States aimed at securing more 
nuclear power technology.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee slammed his successor's 
agreement on Monday to separate India's civilian and military nuclear 
programs, to open its facilities to scrutiny and to prevent the 
spread of weapons technology in exchange for U.S. President George W. 
Bush's help in convincing the U.S. Congress to share civilian nuclear 

"We believe that separating the civilian from the military would be 
very difficult, if not impossible. The costs involved will also be 
prohibitive. It will also deny us any flexibility in determining the 
size of our nuclear deterrent," Vajpayee said in a statement released 
late Wednesday.

"In fact," he said, "it is difficult to resist the feeling that while 
India has made long-term and specific commitments ... the U.S. has 
merely made promises, which it may not be able to see through either 
the U.S. Congress or its friends in the exclusive nuclear club."

A key ally party of current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 
government also criticized Singh's deal with the United States, 
saying it showed continuation of a pro-U.S. shift in India's foreign 

In a statement Thursday, the Communist Party of India (Marxists) 
expressed concerns that the United States would impose restrictions 
on India pursuing an independent nuclear policy.

"There is also the question whether research activities for 
overcoming reliance on import of nuclear fuel will be hampered," it 

Singh shrugged off Vajpayee's remarks.

"If that statement has been made, it is based on misconceptions," 
Singh told reporters while visiting Washington. "The separation 
between civilian and strategic components of the program is a 
national decision."

Singh left Washington Thursday and was set to reach New Delhi on 
Friday after an overnight stop in Geneva.

India carried out multiple nuclear tests in May 1998 during 
Vajpayee's tenure, provoking sanctions from the United States and 
other Western countries.

Most of the sanctions have since been lifted, and the U.S. Congress' 
approval of Monday's nuclear deal would enable U.S. companies in the 
civilian nuclear industry to sell technology and material to India, 
including fuel for India's nuclear reactors at Tarapur near Bombay.

Sandy Perle
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714  Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

E-Mail: sperle at dosimetry.com
E-Mail: sandyfl at earthlink.net 

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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