• Perspective: WMD detectionTrump Administration Has Gutted Programs Aimed at Detecting Weapons of Mass Destruction

    The Trump administration has quietly dismantled or cut back multiple programs that were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to help detect and prevent terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction, a Times investigation has found. The retreat has taken place over the last two years at the Department of Homeland Security, which has primary domestic responsibility for helping authorities identify and block potential chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. A Los Angeles Times investigation found that the changes, not previously reported, were made without rigorous review of potential security vulnerabilities, the Times found, undermining government-wide efforts aimed at countering terrorist attacks involving unconventional weapons, known as weapons of mass destruction.

  • Explosives detectorsAssessing Handheld Explosives Trace Detectors

    Individuals who carry explosives or have been involved in bomb making are likely to be contaminated with trace explosives, microscopic particles invisible to the naked eye. Without the right equipment, detecting trace explosives can be challenging for responders and security personnel. Handheld explosives trace detectors (ETDs) can be used to complement bomb-sniffing canines, which are still the gold standard in trace explosives detection. These detectors can be used to find trace explosives on individuals, hopefully preventing a dangerous incident.

  • Radiation risksHelping first responders deal with dirty bombs

    If a radiological dispersal device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” ever explodes in the United States, emergency crews may be better prepared because researchers have developed a new simulator, which show first responders what an optimal response to an RDD would look like.

  • Radiation risksBill Expands Compensation for Victims of Radiation Exposure

    Tens of thousands of individuals, including miners, transporters, and other employees who worked directly in uranium mines, along with communities located near test sites for nuclear weapons, were exposed during the mid-1900s to dangerous radiation that has left communities struggling from cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses.

  • PerspectiveRadiation in Parts of the Marshall Islands Is Far Higher than Chernobyl, Study Says

    Think of the most radioactive landscapes on the planet and the names Chernobyl and Fukushima may come to mind. Yet research published Monday suggests that parts of the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific, where the United States conducted 67 nuclear tests during the Cold War, should be added to the list.

  • First respondersFirst Responder Radiological Preparedness

    A radiological dispersal device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” detonation in a local jurisdiction will have significant consequences for public safety, responder health and critical infrastructure operations. First responders and emergency managers must quickly assess the hazard, issue protective action recommendations, triage and treat the injured, and secure the scene in support of the individuals, families and businesses in the impacted community.

  • Iran’s nukesIranian enriched uranium limit breached, IAEA confirms

    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Monday that Iran has surpassed the stockpile of low-enriched uranium allowed under the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

  • BiothreatsU.S. faces long-standing biological threats challenges

    GAO officials testified before a House committee on their efforts to identify and strengthen U.S. biodefense. GAO has also released a report highlighting the agency’s findings. Despite President Trump signing off on the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovations Act (PAHPA) on Monday, GAO says that there is still a lot of work to be done.

  • PerspectiveRectifying a wrong nuclear fuel decision

    In the old days, new members of Congress knew they had much to learn. They would defer to veteran lawmakers before sponsoring legislation. But in the Twitter era, the newly elected are instant experts. That is how Washington on 12 June witnessed the remarkable phenomenon of freshman Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk), successfully spearheading an amendment that may help Islamist radicals get nuclear weapons. The issue is whether the U.S. Navy should explore modifying the reactor fuel in its nuclear-powered vessels — as France already has done — to reduce the risk of nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists such as al-Qaida or rogue states such as Iran. Luria says no. Alan J. Kuperman writes in the Pilot Online that more seasoned legislators have started to rectify the situation by passing a spending bill on 19 June that includes the funding for naval fuel research. They will have the chance to fully reverse Luria in July on the House floor by restoring the authorization. Doing so would not only promote U.S. national security but teach an important lesson that enthusiasm is no substitute for experience.

  • Airport security Shoe scanner may improve airport security

    The types of shoes you wear when flying matter. And not just shoe types. Size, material, soles and heels are also very important. Why? Shoes can become dangerous vehicles for terrorists’ plots. DHS wants to prevent future incidents, and this is why S&T is working on a millimeter wave technology for screening shoes as part of the larger Screening at Speed Program.

  • WMD exposureNew technology to measures WMD threat exposures

    Researchers are looking to find molecular signatures in blood that identify previous exposures and time of exposure to materials that could be associated with weapons of mass destruction (including infectious agents, chemicals, and radiation). The epigenome is biology’s record keeper, and Epigenetic technology will provide a new tool in the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

  • InfrastructureIt’s Alive! Creating innovative “living” bridge

    Engineers have designed a unique living laboratory on a heavily traveled iconic bridge which could change the way infrastructure is viewed. The Memorial Bridge, which links Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Kittery, Maine, has been outfitted with data sensors that have transformed it into a self-diagnosing, self-reporting “smart” bridge that captures a range of information from the health of the span to the environment around it.

  • Infrastructure protectionFinding and fixing natural gas leaks quickly, economically

    From production to consumption, natural gas leaks claim lives, damage the climate and waste money. Researchers are working on better ways to find and fix gas leaks quickly and inexpensively from one end of the system to the other.

  • Infrastructure protectionSensors may not make infrastructure safer

    Simply driving down the road gives you a sense for the current state of our infrastructure: crumbling and in need of repair. New technology like sensors offers a way for inspectors to peer inside the systems almost continuously. But just placing a sensor on the side of a bridge doesn’t automatically lead to cost savings and a safer bridge.

  • Chemical detectionDARPA tests advanced chemical sensors

    DARPA’s SIGMA program, which began in 2014, has demonstrated a city-scale capability for detecting radiological and nuclear threats that is now being operationally deployed. DARPA is building off this work with the SIGMA+ initiative that is focused on providing city- to region-scale detection capabilities across the full chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threat space.