• New technology allows detection of nuclear materials from a mile away

    New detection technology would allow illicit nuclear material to be detected from up to a mile away; the technology, developed by the Idaho National Laboratory, will help protect the United States against the smuggling of nuclear materials into the country; field tests will begin this summer

  • Radioactive waste contaminates drinking water, EPA does nothing

    Recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents show that Pennsylvania’s drinking water has been contaminated with radioactive waste from natural gas drilling; energy companies have been extracting natural gas with a new drilling technique called “hydrofracking”; this process results in millions of gallons of wastewater that is contaminated with dangerous chemicals like highly corrosive salts, carcinogens, and radioactive elements; EPA documents reveal the process has been contaminating drinking water supplies across the country with radioactive waste; in Pennsylvania more than 1.3 billion gallons of radioactive wastewater was trucked to plants that could not process out the toxins before it released the water into drinking supplies

  • Helium-3 shortage endangers nuclear detection capabilities

    Demand for radiation detectors has surged as a result of increased efforts to stop nuclear proliferation and terrorism, but production of helium-3, a critical element in nuclear detection technology, has not kept pace and existing stockpiles are quickly dwindling; in 2010 demand for helium-3 was projected to be 76,000 liters per year; the United States only produces 8,000 liters of helum-3 a year; last year the U.S. stockpile of helium-3 was at less than 48,000 liters; alternatives are currently in the early stages of development and researchers have found several promising leads; when an alternative is found, current radiation detection equipment will have to be replaced with the new technology

  • Free radiation monitors handed out in South Carolina

    Ionizing radiation, the most energetic form, is capable of removing electrons from atoms and damaging the DNA within living cells; widespread panic caused by a dirty bomb, small nuclear device, or nuclear fallout would leave people questioning whether or not they were exposed to a lethal dose of ionizing radiation; the RadSticker is an inexpensive citizen’s dosimeter which could minimize panic in the event of a radiological incident

  • Port radiation detectors not properly tested

    A new report by the National Academy of Sciences says that DHS officials responsible for defending against radiological and nuclear terror attacks did not properly test high-tech radiation detectors for use at the nation’s ports of entry

  • Cement prison for old radioactive waste

    The cold war may be over, but its radioactive legacy is not; between 1950 and 1990, nuclear weapons materials production and processing at several federal facilities generated billions of gallons of water contaminated with radioactive byproducts; researchers at Idaho National Laboratory test an inexpensive method to sequester strontium-90 where it lies. The researchers can coax underground microbes to form calcite, a white mineral form of calcium carbonate and the main ingredient in cement. Calcite should be able to trap strontium-90 until long after it has decayed into harmless zirconium

  • New technology speeds cleanup of nuclear contaminated sites

    Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on cleanup of some major sites contaminated by radioactivity, primarily from the historic production of nuclear weapons during and after the Second World War; Oregon State University researchers have invented a new type of radiation detection and measurement device that will be particularly useful for cleanup of sites with radioactive contamination, making the process faster, more accurate and less expensive

  • Geologists develop way to monitor covert nuclear tests in the Middle East

    Not only is it difficult to identify exactly where an explosion takes place, but it is especially challenging to differentiate the seismic waves generated by nuclear explosions from those generated by earthquakes, volcanic activity, and mine collapses; geologists develop improved seismic model for monitoring nuclear explosions in Middle East

  • Medical isotopes no longer require weapons-grade uranium

    Highly enriched uranium (HEU) is used in nuclear weapons, but it is also used to make the radioisotopes that are injected in tiny quantities into people to diagnose and treat disease; indeed, making medical isotopes is a time-honored excuse for enriching uranium, if you want to build nuclear weapons but do not want to admit you are doing so (this is the cover Iran is using for its bomb-oriented enrichment program); South Africa’s Pelindaba reactor is now producing medical treatment-oriented molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) made from low-enriched uranium

  • ICx Technologies: comprehensive, layered approach to security

    At the recent ASIS exhibition and seminar, Homeland Security Newswire took the time to walk through the ICx Technologies booth and speak to some of their subject matter experts; CommandSpace® & ThreatSense™, solutions which provide a comprehensive, layered approach to perimeter security and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security for critical facilities, respectively, were on display

  • Spotting illicit nuclear activity from a distance

    French scientists unveil a plan to place antineutrino detectors off the coast of rogue nations suspected of operating clandestine nuclear reactors; their idea is to turn a supertanker into an antineutrino detector by kitting it out with the necessary photon detectors and filling it with 10^34 protons in the form of 138,000 tons of linearalkylbenzene (C13 H30); the plan is to sink the tanker in up to four kilometers of water off the coast of a rogue state, and the supertanker would then watch for the telltale signs of undeclared antineutrino activity

  • New nuclear detection method does not use helium

    Current nuclear detection technology uses helium 3, which was a by-product of the U.S. earlier nuclear weapons programs and which is in increasingly short supply; Dynasil’s new “dual mode” detectors are designed to work without helium 3 and can replace two separate nuclear detector systems for gamma radiation and for the neutrons from nuclear materials

  • DHS gives New York $18 million for radiation detection system

    DHS will hand New York $18.5 million today to keep the city’s prototype dirty-bomb detection system running; the nuclear detection operation is run out of an operations center in the city, featuring more than 4,500 pieces of radiation detection equipment, many equipped with GPS locators

  • GAO: $4 billion border radiation detectors program a bust

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported Wednesday that the $4 billion program to install radiation detectors at U.S. border crossings yielded few tangible results; the detection machines were too big for border inspection lanes, and the software for the Cargo Advanced Automated Radiography Systems also was not up to the task; DHS: “We are mindful of getting something delivered that has a credible basis for the implementation plan that follows”

  • Rapiscan in $12 million nuclear detection contract

    DHS’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) has contracted Rapiscan Systems for detection of shielded nuclear materials; the company has been tasked with developing a Liquefied Noble gas detector — in collaboration with Yale University — a threshold activation detector, a human portable system, and an aircraft inspection solution