Homeland Security and Energy department leaders urge cities vulnerable to terrorism to undergo an inventory of all radioactive material within city limits, so authorities can detect “dirty bombs” terrorists might plant, reports USA Today. Maps of each city would be created by a Department of Energy team that uses helicopters, small planes and ultrasensitive radiation detectors to pinpoint areas where radioactive materials are legitimately stored, such as hospitals and laboratories.
With a baseline survey in hand, authorities could quickly check for new sources of radiation if intelligence suggests a terrorist is assembling a dirty bomb, in which radioactive material is mixed with explosives. Any new radiation blips on the survey could be flagged as potential rogues and investigated. Baseline surveys also could be used to guide cleanup crews to heavily radiated areas if a bomb is set off.