DHS awards grants for radiation detection systems

The Homeland Security Department announced that its Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) has awarded $3.2 million in grants for radiation detection systems to be installed at interstate weigh stations throughout the Southeast.

DHS said the awards represent the first phase of DNDO’s Southeast Transportation Corridor Pilot program, a two-year initiative involving federal, state and local governments in nine states and Washington, D.C. The program is designed to develop nuclear and radiological detection and interdiction capabilities on the country’s highways, according to a DHS statement.

The initial grant awards will go to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, South Carolina Department of Public Safety, South Carolina State Transport Police, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Virginia Department of Emergency Management and Georgia Emergency Management Agency. The funds will be used to pay for fixed, handheld and mobile radiation detection equipment at interstate weigh stations.

The statement did not provide how much each grantee would receive.

The program aims to integrate existing and new systems and to develop a regional threat detection and interdiction architecture. DNDO will also provide training for state and local partners on equipment operations, alarm resolution protocols, information sharing and the shipment of radioactive materials from nearby nuclear production and waste treatment facilities, according to the statement.

“We are intensely focused on preventing high-consequence threats, such as a radiological or nuclear attack,” said Vayl Oxford, DNDO director. “The southeast transportation corridor sees some of the largest concentrations of truck traffic in the country. The work that we are doing in the Southeast will ultimately lead to a web of radiation detection systems on our nation’s highways.”

In June DHS released the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, which detailed procedures for establishing and coordinating critical infrastructure priorities. It will also help in the annual budget processes for all federal agencies that are responsible for protecting critical infrastructure, DHS officials said.

The plan is designed to enhance the protection of physical and cyberassets and improve information sharing among public- and private-sector partners.

The plan included among the critical infrastructures: mass transit, aviation, maritime, ground or surface, and rail and pipeline systems; commercial facilities; government facilities; emergency services; dams; nuclear reactors, materials and waste; the defense industrial base; and national monuments and icons.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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