Israel begins radiation detection at Haifa Port

Published 31 January 2008

More ports join the U.S.-led effort to check for radiological materials; the idea is to have U.S.-bound cargo containers scanned for radiation before they arrive in U.S. ports; the latest port to be added to the list is Haifa, Israel

The efforts to expand the number of ports equipped with sophisticated radiation detection equipment, ports in which U.S.-bound containers can be scanned for radioactive material, continue. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), and the Israel Port Company (IPC) announced that initial operations of radiation detection equipment had commenced at Haifa Port, one of Israel’s busiest seaports. The specialized equipment will help to detect smuggled or illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials that might move through this port.

We are working closely with Israel to prevent nuclear terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” said William Tobey, deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “The success of this project also reflects the dedication and hard work of the Israelis in designing and installing the radiation detection equipment.”

If a container is flagged by radiation detectors, Israeli-developed technology would then allow for quick identification of the radioisotope that is involved. This ongoing pilot project will provide both countries with information on the best way to detect nuclear or radiological material as they continue to expand and cooperate in this important area. The IPC’s chairman of the board, Major Gen. (Res.) Yiftach Ron-Tal, added, “We see the installation of the radiation detection portals as a critical piece of the port security regime that will ease the efficient flow of trade and will foster Israel’s continuing economic growth.”

The equipment was installed under a cost-sharing arrangement with the IPC and the Haifa Port Company. Under the cost-sharing arrangement, IPC funded the design, installation, integration and long-term maintenance of the radiation detection equipment; the Haifa Port Company will operate the detection equipment; and the IAEC will assist with long-term training efforts and equipment maintenance. NNSA procured the radiation detection equipment, developed the communications system, and helped to train IPC officials on operation and maintenance of the system.