[ RadSafe ] Concerns Could Reduce Radiation Sensor Deployment
Clayton J Bradt
cjb01 at health.state.ny.us
Fri Sep 5 08:18:51 CDT 2008
Concerns Could Reduce Radiation Sensor Deployment
A program to install next-generation radiation sensors at U.S. entry points
could be significantly scaled back in light of revelations that the
Homeland Security Department gave lawmakers overly optimistic estimates of
the machines’ accuracy and expense, the Washington Post reported today (see
GSN, March 5).
The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office’s latest plan would only deploy
Advanced Spectroscopic Portal monitors to search for potential nuclear and
radiological weapon ingredients inside cargo containers, according to a
report by the Government Accountability Office.
"Senior DNDO officials acknowledge a deployment program that is
dramatically different in scope than the one presented to and approved by
Congress. Program officials now state the program includes only the
standard cargo ASP — a significant reduction in planned ASP equipment," the
What short-term method will be used for scanning “rail cars, privately
owned vehicles, airport cargo and cargo at seaport terminals” remains an
open question, congressional investigators added in the report. The United
States currently depends on less-expensive machines that often cannot
distinguish dangerous radioactive material from harmless radiation sources
such as containers of bananas.
Deployment of the ASP detectors, promoted as a critical step to securing
the United States against nuclear and radiological terrorism, hit a
roadblock when GAO auditors determined DNDO officials had exaggerated the
cost-effectiveness and efficacy of the machines in a 2006 report to
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff delayed the deployment of the
detectors last year amid allegations of improper testing and complaints
about the machines from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
The original $1.2 billion price of the program estimated by the Domestic
Nuclear Detection Office fell far short of the actual price of the
machines. Deploying and running the machines is likely to cost roughly
$3.1 billion but could reach as much as $3.8 billion, auditors said.
GAO officials had difficulty developing the cost estimates because their
DNDO counterparts refused to give them relevant data and had “instructed …
ASP contractors to refuse GAO requests for interviews and data," according
to the report (Robert O’Harrow Jr., Washington Post, Sept. 4).
Any competent- and honest HP- could have foretold this. There is no
technological solution to nuclear terrorism.
As long as there are vendors and careerists willing to tell lawmakers and
political apparatchiks what they want to hear,
the warnings of those of us who know better will continue to be drowned
Shame on all those who made a buck from this boondoggle!
Clayton J. Bradt
dutchbradt at hughes.net
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