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Brookhaven Develops Science-Based Solutions
to National Homeland-Security Issues


The Brookhaven-developed thermal neutron imaging camera can “see” radioactive materials, such as plutonium or the beryllium source pictured above, from a substantial distance.

“For many political, economic, psychological, and technical reasons, New York City has been and continues to be a major target of terrorism,” comments Paul Moskowitz of N&NS. “As a result of our proximity to New York City and our scientific and technical expertise and experience, Brookhaven is an invaluable counter-terrorism planning and implementation resource for the New York metropolitan area.”

Over the years, the Laboratory has worked with city officials on issues of common interest, including spent nuclear-fuel transport, air and water pollution, and emergency services. Since September 11, 2001, Brookhaven has offered its assistance and been consulted on the counter-terrorism issue, as exampled by:

  • January 2002 conference “Implications for Security of the Built Environment in New York City” co-sponsored by the Laboratory
  • April 2002 workshop “New York Metropolitan Region: Counter-terrorism and Infrastructure Assurance Technology Needs” co-sponsored by Brookhaven, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, the Environmental Measurements Laboratory, the New York City Office of Emergency Management, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
  • 2002 DOE-FUNDED study “Security of Radioactive Materials at Non-Reactor Sites in New York State” led by the Laboratory for the New York State Governor’s Office of Public Security
  • 2002 workshop “Urban Atmospheric Observatory” for New York City co-sponsored by Brookhaven and the Environmental Measurements Laboratory
  • 2003 DOE-funded study, now ongoing and co-led by Brookhaven, of the vulnerability to terrorism of New York State infrastructure, such as bridges, tunnels, energy control systems, oil or gas pipelines, water supplies, and telecommunication systems.

Lucian Wielopolski is developing a cargo-scanning technology that uses a particle accelerator to detect nitrogen and sodium found in many explosive materials.

Through these and other efforts, Brookhaven has developed close working relationships with key regional authorities, private-sector partners, and academic institutions, including:

  • New York City Office of Emergency Management
  • New York State Office of Public Security
  • Long Island Forum for Technology
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Symbol Technologies, Inc.
  • Stony Brook University
  • United States Merchant Marine Academy.


While detecting and intercepting dangerous materials before entering the U.S. is crucial, securing these materials at the source is just as important.

“Efforts to prevent the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction are not new, but, in light of September 11 and other recent world events, these efforts have never before seemed so important.”

- Joseph Indusi
Chair of Nonproliferation & National Security Department

So, overseas, Brookhaven scientists are working to safeguard nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union through the Laboratory’s material protection, control and accounting cooperative program.

Designed to secure highly enriched uranium and other dangerous material stored at formerly secret sites across Russia and the other former Soviet states, program projects include:

  • upgrading and modernizing facilities used for the storage and disposal of nuclear materials
  • providing re-training and job-placement help for the Soviet Union’s former nuclear scientists
  • building facilities to consolidate and convert highly enriched, weapons-usable uranium into low-enriched uranium suitable for use as nuclear reactor fuel
  • installing operational monitoring systems at a variety of Russian facilities, including nuclear submarine bases
  • working with DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration to prepare and implement a strategy for securing and controlling radioactive sources of foreign origin that could be used in a “radiological dispersion device,” which is also known as a dirty bomb.

“Most of the confirmed incidents of trafficking in radioactive or nuclear material involve material of Russian origin,” explains N&NS Department Chair Joseph Indusi. “Since obtaining this material is the key to constructing a radiological dispersion device or nuclear weapon, it makes sense to try to safeguard these materials at the source, thereby preventing their transfer to terrorist groups or rogue states.”


  • funding: U.S. Department of Energy; U.S. Department of Homeland Security; National Institutes of Health; National Nuclear Security Administration; U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and others
  • paper: “Ultraviolet Mini-Raman LIDAR for Standoff, In-situ Identification of Chemical Surface Contaminants,” Review of Scientific Instruments, September 2000, volume 71, number 9, pp. 3485-89
  • contact: Joseph Indusi, or (631) 344-2975
  • Web:  ,

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