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NNSA to Conduct Aerial Radiation Assessment Survey in New Jersey, New York

January 23, 2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A helicopter may be seen flying at low altitudes over portions of northern New Jersey and New York City through Jan. 25, 2014. The purpose of the flyovers is to measure naturally occurring background radiation.

Officials from National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that the radiation assessment will cover approximately 10 square miles. A twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System from Joint Base Andrews, will be equipped with radiation sensing technology. The helicopter will fly in a grid pattern over the areas at 150 feet (or higher) above the ground surface, at a speed of approximately 80 miles per hour. Flyovers will occur only during daylight hours and it is estimated to take about four days to complete.

The measurement of naturally occurring radiation to establish baseline levels is a normal part of security and emergency preparedness. This natural radiation is not harmful and exists everywhere. NNSA is making the public aware of the upcoming flights so that citizens who see the low-flying aircraft are not alarmed.

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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. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce 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.