The Department of Homeland Security announced contracts awards for the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) program, totaling $1.157 billion, to Raytheon, Thermo Electron Corporation, and Canberra Industries. The program is intended to develop the next generation of radiation portal monitors, for use at seaports, rail depots, and mounted on trucks. This is an important and necessary program, given the performance limitations of the current generation of passive detectors. As DHS noted in its press release:
The ASP program improves upon the existing polyvinyl toluene based radiation portal monitors which are currently being deployed to the nation’s points of entry by Customs and Border Protection, as well as overseas through the Department of Energy Megaports Initiative. These new systems will enhance current detection capabilities by more clearly identifying the source of detected radiation through spectroscopic isotope identification.
“The ASP program provides significant improvement in the detection of special nuclear materials such as highly enriched uranium and weapons grade plutonium,” said Vayl S. Oxford, Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. “The program is critical to implementing the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture. By identifying these materials through spectroscopy, these next-generation systems will reduce the false alarm rate by distinguishing between special nuclear materials and naturally occurring radioactive materials.”