TSA agents monitor U.S. ground transportation for nuclear, biological threats

Published 19 November 2009

DHS, the FBI, and TSA quietly monitor the U.S. ground transportation system for nuclear and biological weapons; TSA agents carry portable detection sensors fan out aboard trains and buses and at transit hubs

Federal officers equipped with nuclear- and biological-weapons detectors have begun to ride the U.S. rail system, including Amtrak, to prevent terrorists from hauling dirty bombs and other explosives to big-city targets, the New York Post’s Murray Weiss writesDHS, working with the FBI, has been quietly rolling out handheld radiological devices to specially trained Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents who are randomly fanning out aboard trains and buses and at transit hubs.

The nuclear, biological, chemical issue is now the most concerning and feared because of its mass-casualty possibilities,” said a top federal official familiar with the initiative. “This expands our capabilities to detect weapons of mass destruction, and it shows the direction we are heading nationally.”

The small portable instruments detect radiological and biological particles emitted from materials that may be transported in baggage or personal belongings.

Rail systems in Spain, India, and England have recently been targets of bloody terror bombings that killed hundreds of people and wounded thousands of others.

The new devices are similar to models carried by the NYPD, which has been building a nuclear and biological detection apparatus to protect streets, bridges, subways and tunnels.