NNSA to Conduct Aerial Survey over Washington, D.C.

Press Release
Dec 26, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will be flying a helicopter over portions of Washington, D.C., between Dec. 27, 2012, and Jan. 11, 2013. The purpose of these flights is to measure naturally occurring radiation in the Washington, D.C., area.

The radiation assessment will cover approximately 70 square miles and NNSA will complete the assessment using a helicopter equipped with remote gamma radiation sensing technology. The helicopter will fly in a grid pattern over the areas, 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 two weeks to complete the assessment.

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

The NNSA’s Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) out of Joint Base Andrews will be performing the assessment for local law enforcement of Washington, D.C.

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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.