The tale of shipping container TGHU 307703 0 22G1, which showed up at a Genoa port emitting six chest x-rays’ worth of radiation per minute. And interesting information about the mysteries of shipping containers in general, and the security around them (or terrifying lack thereof).
So after 10 years and more than $1 billion spent on scanners, radiation detectors, and beefed-up intelligence, most US ports are still scanning containers onshore, after unloading. Unfortunately, the detectors are easily foiled. Lots of harmless things are slightly radioactive—kitty litter, ceramic tiles, even bananas. So most detectors are set to ignore low radiation levels. Basic shielding would be enough to mask all but the strongest sources. “The radiation portals that were deployed in the aftermath of 9/11 are essentially fine, except for three problems: They won’t find a nuclear bomb, they won’t find highly enriched uranium, and they won’t find a shielded dirty bomb,” says Stephen Flynn, a terrorism expert and president of the Center for National Policy. “Other than that, they’re great pieces of equipment.”
From Spook Country:
“You said they put it on a truck today,” she said.
“And they’re taking it into the United States, through Idaho?”
“We think Idaho. The unit inside is still functioning, though, and Bobby is keeping track of that for us. We should be able to anticipate where they’re going to cross.”
“If we fail to do that,” the old man said, “and they enter the country undetected, we do have other options.”
“Though we prefer the radiation be detected at the crossing.”