Brookhaven Develops Science-Based Solutions
From safeguarding fissile materials to developing technology for
detection of nuclear weapons, dirty bombs, toxic chemicals, biological
pathogens, and conventional explosives, Brookhaven’s homeland-security
initiatives are focused on protecting the New York metropolitan area and
our nation from future terrorist attacks.
by Peter Genzer
THE EIGHT PARALLEL PILLARS loom like some sort of post-modern Stonehenge, 20 feet tall and yellowish-orange in color. These steel towers, however, straddle a road encircling a former Long Island landfill, not a pastoral English meadow. Bristling with sophisticated electronic equipment, these pillars are radiation detectors: cutting-edge tools for the fight against terrorism that represent just one of Brookhaven Lab’s current homeland-security initiatives.
“Here it comes now,” says Carl Czajkowski of Brookhaven’s Nonproliferation & National Security (N&NS) Department, pointing to a panel truck speeding down the road towards the detectors. As the vehicle passes between the pillars, multiple alarms sound in a nearby trailer, while computer screens display the type and energy of the radiation detected, and its position within the truck. The potential terrorists are stopped this time — but if only in a demonstration. For this purpose, “We put a tiny radioactive source inside the cargo area,” discloses Czajkowski.
From safeguarding fissile materials to developing sensors and technologies for detection of nuclear weapons, dirty bombs, toxic chemicals, biological pathogens, and conventional explosives, the Laboratory’s homeland-security initiatives are advanced, science-based solutions to help meet the challenges faced by those protecting U.S. national security interests both at home and abroad. Over the past two years, Brookhaven has been consolidating and re- focusing its homeland-security programs while reaching out to local, state, and federal agencies to offer its assistance on a variety of issues.