Government Technology

Detecting Illicit Nuclear Materials Takes Layered Approach



November 5, 2008 By

The nuclear threat is something we really have to pay attention to, said Mike Johnson, mission area manager for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Of all the types of terrorist attacks that could involve nuclear material, the most likely is a 'dirty bomb' that is composed of a source of radiation surrounded by a conventional explosive such as TNT.

Furthermore, Johnson said, the approach to preventing such an attack has to be layered. Consequently, the DNDO works on much of its mission abroad, because protecting a city from a nuclear attack, such as a dirty bomb, requires working outside cities' borders, Johnson said.

The DNDO is focused on detecting illicit nuclear material and preventing it from entering the United States. As part of those efforts, the DNDO is currently working on developing a nuclear materials detection architecture. Part of DNDO's mission is to test, recommend and buy detection equipment for government agencies such as Customs and Border Patrol as well as the Coast Guard.

The agency is pretty satisfied with the current state of cargo security at points of entry along the nation's borders, Johnson told an audience of homeland security practitioners and technology providers at the 10th annual Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness in Chicago last week. The DNDO's next focus will be to improve cargo screening of small private planes and yachts coming into the United States through non-points of entry.

As smuggling remains a major way illicit cargo enters the country, the DNDO is going to work on improving the efficiency and accuracy of cargo screening. One project being developed is a 45-second cargo screener that will scan containers for nuclear, chemical, biological agents as well as conventional explosives and people being smuggled across the country. This will make it easier to achieve the DNDO's goal of scanning 100 percent of cargo without interrupting commerce. Johnson said the DNDO would make recommendations to states about the technology they should buy. The next generation of nuclear and radiological materials detection technology will let screeners know where the material is and what specific type of material it is.

Noting that the current generation of nuclear scientists that ushered in the Atomic Age is dying, Johnson said it is time for America to start developing the next generation of scientists to protect the country against nuclear and radiological threats.


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Maintain Your IT Budget with Consistent Compliance Practices
Between the demands of meeting federal IT compliance mandates, increasing cybersecurity threats, and ever-shrinking budgets, it’s not uncommon for routine maintenance tasks to slip among state and local government IT departments. If it’s been months, or even only days, since you have maintained your systems, your agency may not be prepared for a compliance audit—and that could have severe financial consequences. Regardless of your mission, consistent systems keep your data secure, your age
Best Practice Guide for Cloud and As-A-Service Procurements
While technology service options for government continue to evolve, procurement processes and policies have remained firmly rooted in practices that are no longer effective. This guide, built upon the collaborative work of state and local government and industry executives, outlines and explains the changes needed for more flexible and agile procurement processes.
Fresh Ideas In Online Security for Public Safety Organizations
Lesley Carhart, Senior Information Security Specialist at Motorola Solutions, knows that online and computer security are more challenging than ever. Personal smartphones, removable devices like USB storage drives, and social media have a significant impact on security. In “Fresh Ideas in Online Security for Public Safely Organizations,” Lesley provides recommendations to improve your online security against threats from social networks, removable devices, weak passwords and digital photos.
View All

Featured Papers