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Press Release

U.S. and Colombia Commission Radiation Detection Operations at the Port of Cartagena
Apr 29, 2009

U.S. and Colombia Commission Radiation Detection Operations at the Port of CartagenaRadiation Detection System Helps Prevent Smuggling of Nuclear Material

CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA – Today, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) participated in a commissioning ceremony at the Port of Cartagena in Colombia to highlight the successful operation of radiation detection equipment provided through NNSA's Megaports Initiative. This specialized system detects the presence of dangerous nuclear and other radioactive materials by scanning all import and export container traffic transiting the Port of Cartagena.

NNSA signed a joint Declaration of Principles with the Colombian Directorate of Customs and Taxation (DIAN) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in December 2006. This Declaration provided for the implementation of both the CBP's Container Security Initiative (CSI) and NNSA's Second Line of Defense Megaports Initiative. In September 2008, the Megaports radiation detection system at the Port of Cartagena became operational. DIAN is now staffing the central alarm station and analyzing and responding to radiation alarms, working closely with the port operator Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Cartagena (SPRC) to place automatic holds on suspect containers for further inspection.

"Our efforts under both the Megaports Initiative and CSI directly contribute to the nonproliferation objectives shared by the U.S. and Colombia, the security of our two nations, and the safety of the global maritime system," said Ken Baker, NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. "Today's ceremony recognizes the hard work and shared commitment of both of our countries to enhance nuclear security by preventing illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials."

Under a cost-sharing arrangement, SPRC paid for all design, construction, and installation efforts, while NNSA provided the equipment, communications system, training, technical support, and maintenance. The Megaports Initiative enjoys positive and productive relationships with all parties, but specifically recognizes SPRC for the significant financial investment in and commitment to preventing nuclear smuggling and for completing the project on time.

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 21 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