U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on October 3, 2008 that they have unveiled the first radiation portal monitors at the Port of Mobile, Ala. yesterday. The CBP designed these highly sophisticated tools to prevent any attempts to smuggle radiological materials used in nuclear weapons into the United States.
The five portal monitors now in operation act as an extremely sensitive receiving antenna to detect radiation sources. A radiation portal monitor is a detection device that provides CBP with a passive, non-intrusive means to screen trucks and other conveyances for the presence of nuclear and radiological materials.
These systems are capable of detecting various types of radiation emanating from nuclear devices, dirty bombs, special nuclear materials, natural sources, and isotopes commonly used in medicine and industry. They are completely safe for anyone passing by them; they are passive “detectors” of radiation, not emitters of radiation.
“RPMs are just one component in our layered defense; intelligence analysis, a highly trained and dedicated workforce, and partnership with the trade community are also key elements to ensure port security,” said Robert C. Gomez, CBP operations director for the Atlanta/New Orleans region.