DHS awards $1.1B in contracts for nuclear detection

The Homeland Security Department has awarded more than $1.1 billion to three companies to build the next generation of radiation- and nuclear-detection equipment, DHS officials announced today.

Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems division, Thermo Electron and Canberra Industries received one-year contracts with four one-year options for the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) program, according to a DHS statement.

ASP will create portals to better detect radiological and nuclear materials crossing the border at U.S. ports of entry, according to the statement. ASP will supersede existing monitors that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency and the Energy Department’s Megaports Initiative use.

“The ASP program provides significant improvement in the detection of special nuclear materials such as highly enriched uranium and weapons grade plutonium,” said Vayl Oxford, director of DHS’ Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.

“By identifying these materials through spectroscopy, these next-generation systems will reduce the false alarm rate by distinguishing between special nuclear materials and naturally occurring radioactive materials,” Oxford said.

“This program is the latest effort in the department’s broader strategy to enhance our nation’s security by harnessing cutting-edge technologies,” said DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. “This advanced equipment will greatly enhance our ability to manage risk and focus on the greatest threats, particularly those presented by nuclear and radiological elements.”

The first year of the ASP contract requires the companies to focus on developing and testing a fixed radiation-detection portal, according to the statement. The portal design will become the standard for screening cargo containers and truck traffic.

The cost-plus contract covers engineering and development work and includes firm fixed-price options for hardware purchases, according to the statement.

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