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Safety

DHS Scraps Radiation-Monitoring Program

by Glenn Hess
August 1, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 31

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has decided to terminate its troubled advanced spectroscopic portal (ASP) radiation detection program, which was launched five years ago to scan cargo for radioactive materials at the nation’s ports and borders. The department “will not proceed as originally envisioned” with ASP, Warren M. Stern, director of DHS’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, told a House of Representatives subcommittee last week. “DHS has concluded that the best course of action is not to see certification of the ASP system for full deployment in either primary or secondary inspections,” Stern said. He added that DHS is instead moving toward using other detection devices, such as handheld units. Investigations by the Government Accountability Office over the past few years found limited evidence that the new machines offered any enhanced capability to detect radiation over the existing monitors used by customs and border protection agents. “The ASP program has been one of the most technically troubled, poorly managed programs I have ever seen,” says Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), ranking member of the House Science, Space & Technology Subcommittee on Energy & Environment.

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