[ RadSafe ] Report Calls for Updates to Radiation Sensor Tests

Clayton J Bradt cjb01 at health.state.ny.us
Thu Feb 28 15:53:57 CST 2008

Global Security Newswire is produced independently for the Nuclear Threat
Initiative by National Journal Group, Inc. Global Security Newswire is
published Monday thru Friday by 2 pm and is available exclusively on the
NTI website, www.nti.org

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Report Calls for Updates to Radiation Sensor Tests

A new report says the U.S. Homeland Security Department should improve its
methods for testing next-generation radiation detectors designed to spot
radiological and nuclear materials at U.S. entry points, the Associated
Press reported yesterday.

The agency expects to spend about $350 million to purchase roughly 800
Advanced Spectroscopic Portal monitors and install them at U.S. seaports
and border crossings, one Homeland Security Department official said. The
department could spend as much as $1.2 billion to deploy the systems, but
recent estimates suggest it could complete the project at a much lower
cost, the official added.

However, Congress has said that machines cannot be deployed until they are
proven to be significantly more effective than those now in use.

Homeland Security commissioned the report from the independent Homeland
Security Institute after lawmakers and congressional auditors questioned
previous testing of the technology .

Unlike a Government Accountability Office report from September, the
independent study found no bias in the testing of the radiation monitors.
However, it urged the Homeland Security Department to develop a stronger
system of testing and evaluation for the machines. The advanced detectors
are not intended to replace all of their first-generation counterparts, and
some of the older sensors would remain in use.
The new monitors are intended to reduce the number of false alarms produced
by benign sources of radiation, such as kitty litter.

Radiation detectors now deployed at the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach
sound between 400 and 500 alarms each day, necessitating a staff of 200
Customs and Border Protection officials to interpret the signals, the
department official said. The next-generation sensors are expected to
reduce the number of daily alarms at the port to between 40 and 50, the
official said.
(Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press/Google News, Feb. 28).
400-500 alarms per day at one port (although the largest & busiest). That's
about 150,000 false alarms per year.

Clayton J. Bradt

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