(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that she has been able to steer $20 million in critical homeland security funding to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in the Tri Cities. The funding, secured in the Fiscal Year 2011 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, will be used for the acquisition and installation of Radiation Portal Monitors and was $12 million more than what was included in the President’s budget. The bill passed the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Committee today.
“Washington state relies heavily on the trade that flows through our ports, making it susceptible to devastating and economically paralyzing attacks,” said Senator Murray. “This critical project maintains the unique balance of securing our ports with ensuring the free flow of commerce that our state depends on for economic growth. It also supports family-wage jobs in the Tri-Cities.”
The Radiation Portal Monitoring Project has a goal of scanning all vehicles and cargo entering our land, rail, sea and air ports for unauthorized shipments of nuclear and radioactive material, while maintaining the normal flow of legitimate trade and travel. The majority of the technical work and planning for this project is done by approximately 150 full time employees at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington.
“The Radiation Portal Monitor Project plays an important role in helping protect our great nation from harm,” said Mike Kluse, PNNL Director and Senior Vice President, Battelle. “Since beginning the project seven years ago, extensive testing, installation and integration of radiation portal monitor systems has the nation closing in on its mission to scan all incoming international traffic and cargo for illicit radioactive materials. In addition, this work is driving advances in radiation science and technology, which is key to maintain our domestic and international security.”