GAO: CBP officers at land border ports need more radiation detectors
A U.S. congressional watchdog agency report pointed out that some equipment used by Customs and Border Protection officers at the land border ports to detect smuggled radioactive materials is in 'short supply.'
'While most CBP officers dealing with the public in front-line positions are equipped with personal radiation detectors, some are not,' the Government Accountability Office said in a report to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's permanent investigations subcommittee, released to the public on July 14. 'According to CBP officials, the agency lacks sufficient resources to purchase the approximately 1,500 personal radiation detectors it needs to provide one for each officer at the border who currently needs one.'
The GAO report also expressed concern over CBP's failure to effectively communicate guidance to its field officers on when they must contact the agency's National Targeting Center to verify that radioactive materials are legitimately licensed.
A 2006 directive, which replaced one issued by the agency in 2003, requires CBP officers to contact the National Targeting Center to verify that radioactive materials are legitimately licensed whenever they detect more than incidental trace amounts of radiation, for example, amounts higher than the low levels found in common products such as ceramics and bananas.
The GAO said the 2006 guidance has not been properly communicated from CBP headquarters to the agency's field officers.
'When we asked CBP officers at several ports of entry about the current guidance for regulating the flow of radioactive materials across the border, almost all officers either provided us with the 2003 directive or confirmed that the 2003 directive was current and operative; only one gave us guidance reflecting the 2006 memorandum,' the GAO said.