U.S. and Jamaica Begin Radiation Detection Operations at the Port of Kingston

Press Release
May 26, 2009

U.S. and Jamaica Begin Radiation Detection Operations at the Port of KingstonRadiation Detection Project will Help Prevent Smuggling of Nuclear Material

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S.  National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced the successful start of operations of radiation detection equipment at the Port of Kingston in Jamaica. Specialized equipment installed by NNSA, in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica Customs, the Port Authority of Jamaica and the private terminal operator, will scan all import and export containers passing through the port's Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) Terminal for the presence of dangerous nuclear and other radioactive materials.

"The successful start of Megaports operations at the Port of Kingston highlights the shared commitment of the United States and Jamaica to promoting nuclear security by enhancing the security of the global maritime system," said NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Ken Baker. "President Obama has made an unprecedented commitment to preventing the threat of nuclear terrorism by securing dangerous nuclear and other radioactive materials and keeping those materials out of the hands of proliferators and terrorist organizations.  This cooperation increases our capability to identify illicit shipments of special nuclear and other radioactive materials and bolsters the worldwide effort to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism."

As part of its Megaports Initiative, NNSA installed and tested the radiation detection equipment and the associated communications system, and also provided Jamaica Customs with training on equipment operations. Jamaica Customs is now operating the radiation detection equipment and assessing and responding to radiation alarms. NNSA will continue to work with Jamaica over the next several years to provide continued training and sustainability support. Additionally, NNSA plans to expand the Megaports Initiative in Jamaica by equipping the port's other high-volume transshipment terminal, the Kingston Container Terminal, with radiation detection equipment next fiscal year.

Earlier this year, President Obama outlined a broad nuclear security agenda that includes a far-reaching commitment to keeping special nuclear and other radioactive materials out of the hands of terrorist organizations and would-be proliferators.  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 operating in 22 ports, with work underway in at least 20 additional ports in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Jamaica has also partnered with NNSA under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), which seeks to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials located at civilian sites worldwide.
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