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Press Release

U.S., Spain Commence Operations to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling at Port of Barcelona
Jul 26, 2011

Radiation detection equipment installed as part of a cost-sharing agreement between NNSA and Spanish Customs



WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced the successful installation and start of radiation detection equipment operations at the Port of Barcelona, Spain.  The specialized equipment, installed as part of a cost-sharing agreement between NNSA’s Megaports Initiative and the Spanish Government, will help detect and deter the illicit smuggling or shipments of nuclear and other radiological materials.

 “This significant milestone highlights our strong partnership with Spain and our shared commitment to combating nuclear terrorism,” said Anne Harrington, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation.  “With the completion of the project in Spain, we now have 38 operational Megaports worldwide and are also one step closer to fully implementing President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.”

The Port of Barcelona is the third port in Spain where NNSA has installed equipment. NNSA’s cooperation with Spain began in 2006 with a Megaports installation at the Port of Algeciras.  Since that time, NNSA and Spain have worked together on a cost-sharing basis to expand Megaports to the Port of Valencia in September 2010, a new terminal in Algeciras in February 2011, and the Port of Barcelona.  During this time, the Spanish Government has also developed an indigenous training program to provide Spanish officials with the knowledge and skills necessary to respond effectively to radiation alarms.  With the start of operations in Barcelona, Spanish Customs is now scanning nearly all of the containerized truck traffic for imports and exports at the three ports, and responding to radiation alarms.  Furthermore, NNSA has now completed 38 out of its overall goal of equipping 100 Megaports by 2018.

The Megaports Initiative’s work at the Port of Barcelona is part of NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Program, which works collaboratively with foreign governments at border crossings, airports, seaports, and other points of entry to install specialized radiation detection equipment and associated communications equipment.  The SLD Program also provides training to host government border guard officials and other personnel to detect smuggled nuclear and other radioactive materials.  NNSA has installed similar equipment at more than 375 sites and at 38 Megaports around the world.

For a fact sheet on NNSA’s Second Line of Defense Program, click here.

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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 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.