Infrastructure:Electric,Gas & Water / Security Newswire

Budgeting Slashes NNSA Nuclear Smuggling Detection Program

The U.S. is dramatically cutting back on funds that would be used to install nuclear and radiation detection equipment in overseas megaports to scan the contents of shipping containers bound for the U.S., according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has completed only 42 of 100 planned megaport projects in 31 countries, spending some $850 million. However, the NNSA is about to sustain an 85 percent budget reduction for FY 2013, prompting officials to shift their focus from providing new ports with radiation detection equipment to sustaining the existing facilities, WND reports.

As a consequence, NNSA has suspended ongoing negotiations and canceled planned deployments of equipment in five countries, the article says.

An analysis by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the effectiveness in NNSA’s initiative is limited, apparently with the existing major seaports, the article says. That could have an impact on installing and overseeing future equipment to detect the smuggling of nuclear and radiological materials.

The GAO also determined that NNSA’s megaports initiative and a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Container Security Initiative program that similarly examines high-risk shipping containers for weapons of mass destruction were not “sufficiently coordinating,” the article says. The two programs are co-located at 29 foreign ports.

The deficiency in equipment became apparent when DHS told GAO investigators that they were using personal radiation detectors intended for personal safety but inadequate for scanning containers to inspect them, the article notes. However, investigators discovered that NNSA’s megaports initiative had the necessary equipment for DHS officials, showing a serious lack of coordination and cooperation.

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