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Press Release

Mexico Begins Radiation Detection Operations at Lazaro Cardenas Port
Jun 23, 2009

Mexico Begins Radiation Detection Operations at Lazaro Cardenas PortProject Targets the Detection of Smuggled Nuclear Material

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Mexican Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT) today announced that new radiation detection equipment has been installed at one of Mexico's busiest seaports. 

Installed at the Port of Lazaro Cardenas, this new equipment is part of a global effort to implement President Obama's commitment to preventing nuclear terrorism by securing dangerous nuclear material around the world.  The equipment will be used to help detect smuggled or illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials that might move through the port.

"Our partnership with the government of Mexico is an important component of President Obama's commitment to ensuring the nuclear security of the United States and our allies by keeping dangerous nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists," said NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Ken Baker. "The success of this project also reflects the dedication and hard work of the Mexicans in designing and installing the radiation detection equipment as part of a cost-sharing effort."

The new radiation detection equipment was installed on the Hutchison Port Holdings terminal at the Port of Lazaro Cardenas as part of NNSA's Megaports Initiative.  This is the second of four Megaports to go operational in Mexico. The radiation detection equipment at the Port of Veracruz became operational in March 2009. Once all four Megaports are operational, an estimated 92-93% of Mexican imports and exports will be covered under the Megaports Initiative. The remaining percentage of trade transits through various smaller ports not covered by the program's scope.

The success at the Ports of Lazaro Cardenas and Veracruz was achieved under a cost-sharing agreement between NNSA and the Mexican Government. While the Mexican Government funds the design, engineering, construction and installation of the equipment at the four Megaports, NNSA provides the radiation detection equipment, related communications system, training on the operation and maintenance of the detection system, and limited maintenance support.

The Megaports Initiative is part of NNSA's Second Line of Defense Program, which aims to strengthen the capability of foreign governments to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials across international borders and through the global maritime shipping system. The Megaports Initiative provides radiation detection equipment, training, and technical support to key international seaports to scan cargo containers for nuclear and other radioactive materials.

Around the world, the Megaports Initiative is currently operational in 23 ports and work is underway at over 20 additional ports in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. A fact sheet on NNSA's Second Line of Defense program is available.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371