Feds offer to help cities map radioactive sites

Published 22 March 2007

Program is intended to create baseline readings in order to later detect dirty bomb attacks; DoE and DHS lend a hand with planes, helicopters, and detectors

Get out the Geiger counters. DHS and the Department of Energy are teaming up to encourage cities to conduct an inventory assessment of all radioactive substances within their jurisdictions, USA Today reported[/u] this week. This idea is to create baseline data so that authorities will not be confused if the need arises to scan the city for potential dirty bombs, and in order to help guide emergency authorities after such an attack. It is good deal all around, it seems, because the Department of Energy is offering to send its own teams of helicopters, planes, and detection equipment to help out, although cities do have to pay for the privilige. (A GAO report found DoE much better at the task than DHs) In fact, only New York City has done so, shelling out $800,000 in 2005. The decision has already paid dividends: the radiation survey located eight unexpected “hot spots,” including a public park that was contaminated with unsafe levels of radium. The park was then closed.