Livermore Lab Readies Tools to Shore Up Port Defense

  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory tested nuclear detection technology used to protect U.S. seaports from terrorist attack, lab officials announced yesterday.

Using an actual ship cargo container, lab researchers tested 18 hand-held devices and one crane-mounted scanner over a three-week period in June.

Lab officials declined to comment on specific results for national security reasons, but researchers said many of the devices performed well.

"I am encouraged," said project leader William Dunlop. "There is equipment available to inspect our cargo."

In the wake of Sept. 11, U.S. politicians have repeatedly raised the possibility of a terrorist group smuggling radioactive material into the nation's seaports. Several bills aimed at boosting port security are pending in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Livermore lab has in recent months become increasingly involved with the war on terrorism. In July, the lab released plans for a new bioterrorism research facility.

But unlike that plan, lab critics met yesterday's announcement with cautious praise.

"It is an appropriate activity for Lawrence Livermore to engage in," said Marylia Kelley, executive director of lab watchdog group TRI-Valley CAREs. "What we're objecting to is what 90 percent of their money goes to, which is the further development of nuclear weaponry."

The devices tested were mostly developed for health-safety reasons, and all are available commercially.

Dunlop said it was "only natural" that better devices would be developed specifically for weapons detection.

In major U.S. ports, giant cranes remove cargo containers from ocean-going ships and place them on trucks and trains.

A crane-mounted device similar to the one tested by the lab could potentially be mounted on all cranes and perform radiation testing on all inbound containers, Dunlop said.

The Port of Oakland has been improving its security since last October, said Ray Boyle, general manager of maritime operations.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., inspected the port's security Monday.

The port added video surveillance, perimeter fencing and automatic pedestrian controls. Customs inspectors at the port carry radiation detection devices, Boyle said.

He added that the lab tested the particular device Port of Oakland customs officials carry.

But smuggling nuclear material into the port is "conceivably still possible," Boyle said.

In a further effort to ensure seaport security, the U.S. Customs Service has launched the Container Security Initiative.

The initiative posts U.S. customs inspectors at foreign ports to inspect U.S.-bound containers. Several of the world's largest ports have already agreed to participate.


Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
Image Student regent resigns after sex crime allegations
Jesse Cheng officially announced his resignation from his positio...Read More»
Image Pet shop may occupy planned Goodwill
After failed negotiations with the landlord and resistance from the busines...Read More»
Image Campus graduate takes new first steps
UC Berkeley's graduation day this year was symbolic for graduate Austin Whi...Read More»
Image Regents rescind part of approval
The ongoing legal battle surrounding revisions to the building plans for th...Read More»
Image UC spared additional cuts in budget revision
While the University of California escaped further funding reductions M...Read More»
Image UC Board of Regents wary of unreliable state funds
SAN FRANCISCO - Following the release of Gov. Jerry Brown's revis...Read More»
Right Arrow

Job Postings

White Space