U.S. Deploys Truck-Borne X-Ray Scanners

The U.S. Border Patrol has begun deploying pickup trucks loaded with X-ray technology that can be used to detect nuclear or radiological threats, the Associated Press reported yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 30).

The "backscatter radiation technology" devices fire weak X-ray beams that reflect off targets and send an image to a laptop computer operated by a border agent in the truck.

"It's able to reveal things such as car and truck bombs, explosives ... and other organic threats, radioactive threats including nuclear devices and dirty bombs. It's capable of detecting low levels of radioactivity from gamma rays and neutrons," said Al White, head agent at the Border Patrol station in Nogales, Ariz. "This is ideal for dirty bombs and conventional explosives. And on top of that, stowaways who could be illegal immigrants or potential terrorists."

Four of the $750,000 devices have been deployed in Arizona, California and Texas.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration tested the system for use at airport security checkpoints but ultimately selected a separate device for consideration (Arthur Rotstein, Associated Press/Fresno Bee, March 18).

March 19, 2009
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The U.S. Border Patrol has begun deploying pickup trucks loaded with X-ray technology that can be used to detect nuclear or radiological threats, the Associated Press reported yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 30).