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Washington State on Alert For Radioactive Material Smuggling

June 23, 2011 Comments off

globalsecuritynewswire

Law enforcement officials from port communities in Washington state on Tuesday received training in detecting smuggled radiation sources in accordance with federal efforts to prevent a potential nuclear or radiological “dirty bomb” attack, the Kitsap Sun reported (see GSN, June 21).

More than 20 first response entities in the Puget Sound region are using federal funds to acquire sensors to help them scan for radioactive materials that could be carried on boats moving through the waterway.

Bainbridge Island and Port Orchard police officers received training in the use of the detection equipment at the Port Orchard marina. Police vessels from the two jurisdictions have also been equipped with expensive high-tech neutron and gamma ray sensors.

The drill involved the placement of innocuous radioactive isotopes on board two ships. The police officers had to use their newly provided technology to locate the materials.

“The most critical part is detecting it,” said Tim Quinton, a project manager at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which provided one of the vessels used in Tuesday’s training.

Portable Radioactive Isotope Identification Devices, at a cost of $28,000 each, would then be used to identify the specific kind of source and how much radiation it was emitting.

Officers from the two agencies have also been provided with Personal Radiation Detectors that resemble pagers and come with a $2,400 price tag. Officers often use the devices while patrolling by land.

“Anything you can find on water, you could find on land, too,” said Port Orchard police Sgt. Trey Holden (Josh Farley, Kitsap Sun/Seattle Times, June 23).