Homeland Security Tests Radiation Screening Device

Tests of portable radiation detection equipment are underway at the Port Bolivar Ferry Terminal in Galveston. Houston Public Radio’s Ed Mayberry reports.

The two-week program is testing the performance of passive radiation detection technology, according to Home Security’s Jim Bamberger.  The equipment is so sensitive it can detect radiation in people who’ve had certain medical procedures.

“Anyone who’s had, for example, most common would be a thalium stress test or a heart test, would have radioactive isotopes in their system.  And this equipment is sensitive to pick those up.  There’s no danger to the traveling public–it purely receives information.  So should anyone have anyting that’s radiological in their vehicle or on their person, this machine will detect it, and then we will either clear it as ‘safe’ or medical radiation or tag it as ‘dangerous’ radiation and be able to sequester that vehicle.”

The detection equipment will not be permanently installed at the ferry landing, but it can be mobilized if intelligence warrants its deployment.  Jim Marchand with the Transportation Security Administration says Hobby Airport is providing personnel for the testing, and will make them available when a situation warrants.

“This is different equipment than what we have at the airport, and they’ve been trained by the folks from Washington to operate this equipment.  And the good news is they’re now trained on it so they can come out here and deploy it whenever it was needed.”

The testing is being conducted, with the help of the Texas Department of Transportation, in a manner that causes the least amount of disruption to the flow of traffic on the ferry.  Ed Mayberry, Houston Public Radio News.