GAO Again Urges Stronger Federal Effort Against Nuclear Threats

A new Government Accountability Office report presented Nov. 15 to a U.S. Senate subcommittee says key assets necessary to respond to nuclear and radiological terrorist threats are not dispersed across the country as the Department of Energy claims, but instead are located at two Remote Sensing Laboratories protected at DOE's lowest level of physical security.

The report, "Federal Efforts to Respond to Nuclear and Radiological Threats and to Protect Key Emergency Response Facilities Could Be Strengthened," GAO-08-285T, is posted at www.gao.gov.

The DOE labs are located at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The report indicates they can conduct aerial background radiation surveys that could be useful, but only one major city has been surveyed. GAO raised this issue in September 2006. There, and again in this report, GAO points out the overlapping responsibilities of DOE and DHS in connection with nuclear or radiological attack deterrence and response. Neither DOE nor DHS has mission responsibility for conducting these surveys, and the two agencies disagree about which department is responsible for informing cities about the surveys, funding them, and conducting them if cities request them.

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