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NYC "Dirty Bomb" Drill Hailed as Success

A large-scale antiterrorism drill last week met its goal of preventing any mock radiological "dirty bombs" from being smuggled into New York City, Newsday reported on Tuesday (see GSN, April 8).

The five-day exercise was carried out under the federally funded Securing the Cities initiative, which is aimed at deterring a radiological or nuclear assault on New York City.

"Initially, it appears to have gone very well, with good communication among participants and a (high) success rate," said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne. An official determination is expected from the U.S. Homeland Security Department.

Law enforcement agencies from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut took part in the exercise, which involved using radiation sensors to probe for cesium sources being smuggled by mock terrorists. They discovered roughly 153 radiation sources that were supposed to be found, along with 35 unofficial findings, the majority from individuals who had recently received radioactive medical treatments.

A total of nine people posing as terrorists were arrested for attempting to sneak radioactive substances into the city's five boroughs from nearby jurisdictions, the New York Police Department said.

A separate team of NYPD counterterrorism officers took part in a "Red Cell" drill. They interdicted 16 sources smuggled in backpacks onto the city subway system, police said.

"At no point during exercise play were the 'terrorists' successful in bringing a radiological device into New York City from the surrounding region," according to a police statement. "Moreover, all 'terrorists' were apprehended by the conclusion of the fourth day of the exercise" (Anthony Destefano, Newsday, April 12).

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