[ RadSafe ] Radiation Sensors to Scan U.S. Air Cargo

BLHamrick at aol.com BLHamrick at aol.com
Thu Sep 11 20:25:09 CDT 2008

Interestingly, the LA Times if finally coming around.  Here's an  excerpt 
from one of today's editorials ("Adjusting to 9/11"):
"The consequences of our war footing [i.e., characterizing our fight  against 
terrorists as a "war"] are not only restrictions on our freedom and  privacy 
that would never be tolerated under ordinary circumstances, but the  
expenditure of billions of dollars on measures that may not be justified. As  just one 
example, is the degree of danger posed by the theoretical possibility  that 
terrorists might put a "dirty bomb" in a shipping container really great  enough 
to justify the amount we're spending to prevent it from happening?"
Finally, someone's paying attention to the cost-benefit ratio.   The effort 
to screen every container for RAM reminds me of the whole  "the Large Hadron 
Collider will suck us all into a black hole" nonsense.   Everything has risk.  
We need to evaluate it intelligently.
In a message dated 9/11/2008 12:15:51 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
cjb01 at health.state.ny.us writes:

"History is a nightmare from which I am trying to  awake."   ~ James Joyce

Clayton J.  Bradt
dutchbradt at hughes.net

Thursday,  September 11, 2008

Radiation Sensors to Scan U.S. Air  Cargo

The United States plans to begin scanning cargo shipments on  freight and
passenger aircraft for potential radiological and  nuclear-weapon materials,
USA Today reported today (see GSN, June  19).

The scanning program, based on a recommendation from the Sept.  11
commission (see GSN, July 23, 2004), is aimed at closing a security  gap
terrorists have not specifically indicated plans to exploit.   The
technology is scheduled to be used first beginning this week at  Washington
Dulles International Airport, followed by another four  unspecified airports
by the end of 2008 and ultimately at the 30 largest  U.S. airports.

“Our focus is on the international cargo,” although  radiation detectors are
meant to scan all cargo, said U.S. Customs and  Border Protection Deputy
Commissioner Jayson Ahern.

Some  airports could use dozens of the radiation detection machines, which
each  cost $450,000 to put in place.  However, Dulles is expected to  only
need one of the Radiation Portal Monitors.

The United  States should emphasize counterproliferation efforts overseas
rather than  new airport checkpoints that could hinder the movement of
cargo, according  to critics.

"This is a gross waste of money," said Randall Larsen,  a terrorism analyst
formerly with the National War College.  "They're  asking the wrong
question.  It's not how to prevent a nuke from  entering the United States,
it's how do we prevent al-Qaeda from becoming a  nuclear power?"

U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.) backed the  scanning effort.

"The detonation of a weapon of mass destruction or  dirty bomb inside our
country would be a devastating blow, and we must make  every effort to
thwart such an attack," he said.  "Given the severity  of the security
threat, screening all incoming cargo for the presence of  radiation is a
welcome and important development" (Mimi Hall, USA Today,  Sept.  11).

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