Oak Ridge launches center for radiation detection as U.S. prepares for worst

Published 7 February 2006

Growing worries about what is euphemistically called nuclear “event” in the United States lead to creation of radiation-detection team in the Pentagon, and new radiation detection center at Oak Ridge Laboratory

We reported last week that worries about a nuclear event in the United States —a nuclear explosion or the use of a dirty bomb —grow in parallel to the realization that, short of an all-out military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, there is no way to stop that country from acquiring the bomb. Last week we reported that the Pentagon has formed a team of nuclear experts to analyze the fallout from a terrorist nuclear attack on American soil so that the identification of the attackers could be made more quickly. Another move is the announcement by the Energy Department last month that it had launched the Center for Radiation Detection Materials and Systems at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee. The center will serve as the main U.S. radiation-detection laboratory, and will be guided in its research by DHS year-old Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. The Tennessee center will develop new detection technology and will work to make new technology quickly deployable by government agencies.

The Oak Ridge center has already responded to several calls for proposals for new detection projects from DHS. He said the center would focus heavily on making new technology usable quickly. ORNL is also collaborating with the private sector on developing a range of sensor and detectors. As we have reported a couple of weeks ago, (HSDW 1/26/06), Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Sense Holdings is using ORNL facilities to develop a proprietary Micro Electromechanical Sensor (MEMS) technology to create a line of multi-use hand-held biological and chemical detection devices for security and law enforcement personnel.

-read more in this news release