SUITLAND, Md. – The National Nuclear Security Administration will be flying over Joint Base Andrews (JBA), Md., July 17, to measure naturally occurring background radiation. A helicopter may be seen flying at low altitudes while the assessment is conducted and will cover approximately 10 square miles within the base perimeter.
The assessment will gather baseline data that can be used in the event of a radiological situation. The measurement of naturally occurring radiation to establish baseline levels is a normal part of security and emergency preparedness. This assessment is not in response to an incident or a known threat to JBA or the local area.
NNSA and JBA are making the public aware of the upcoming flights so that citizens who see the low-flying aircraft are not alarmed.
A twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System will be equipped with radiation sensing technology. The helicopter will fly at a speed of approximately 80 miles per hour in a grid pattern over the areas, and at no lower than 150 feet above the ground. It is estimated to take one day to complete the flyovers, which will only occur during daylight hours. In the event of inclement weather, a backup date has been scheduled for July 18.
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.