[ 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 
 report states.                                                              
 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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