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NNSA plans aerial radiological survey of San Francisco area

NNSA helicopter

Residents of the San Francisco bay area could see a low-flying helicopter operated by the agency that oversees nuclear material safety in the coming days.

The National Nuclear Security Administration said it plans an aerial survey of the bay between Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 aimed at improving aerial radiation measurement capabilities used by local, state and federal entities.

The NNSA has been conducting similar over-flights in the last few months. In May, it gauged background radiation in Baltimore. The agency explained that the measurement of naturally-occurring radiation to establish baseline levels is a normal part of security and emergency preparedness.

The NNSA said that beginning on Aug. 27, a helicopter may be seen flying at a low-level altitude over portions of San Francisco, Pacifica and Oakland, CA. The helicopter, it said, will be taking measurements of background radiation with daily flights between Aug. 27 and Sept. 1.

The agency said the flyovers are a part of a joint research project between the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) and NNSA to assess natural background radiation levels. The survey will cover approximately 69 square miles over the selected locations.

The NNSA said it will use its twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System in Las Vegas, NV for the flights. The helicopter will fly in a grid pattern over the locations about 300 feet above the ground. The flights will be limited to daylight hours and the survey is estimated to take about five days to complete, it said.

 
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