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NNSA measuring background radiation over Baltimore

Baltimore, MD

The agency in charge of national nuclear security and incident response is flying a helicopter over the city of Baltimore to conduct background radiation checks in the city between May 14 and 16.

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) officials said on May 11 that the radiation assessment of naturally-occurring levels of radiation will cover approximately 10 square miles and it would complete the assessment operations using a helicopter equipped with remote gamma radiation sensing technology. The helicopter will fly in a grid pattern over the areas, 300 feet (or higher) above the ground surface, at a speed of approximately 80 miles per hour, said the agency.  

The agency explained that the measurement of naturally occurring radiation to establish baseline levels is a normal part of security and emergency preparedness. NNSA said is making the public aware of the upcoming flights so that citizens who see the low-flying aircraft wouldn’t be alarmed.

The NNSA’s Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) out of Andrews Air Force Base will be performing the assessment, it said.

The agency has said aerial radiation measurements have been used in the U.S. to respond to nuclear incidents and to characterize currently existing radiation around U.S. nuclear sites. The agency flew radiation detection equipment to
Japan last year to support monitoring efforts following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan.

Flyovers in Baltimore will occur only during daylight hours and are estimated to take about one day to complete the assessment, it said.