Casey: Increased Security Needed to Protect Radiological Material at Hospitals
WASHINGTON, DC— To thwart terrorist attempts to acquire nuclear material, U.S. Senator Bob Casey has called on the Obama Administration to increase efforts to secure radiological material at major hospitals. In a letter to National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Thomas D’Agostino, Senator Casey called for increased security measures and training for first responders based on a successful model implemented at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Approximately 500 major metropolitan hospital buildings reportedly use radiological sources for medical treatment and research,” wrote Senator Casey. “This radiological material, if obtained by terrorists, could be used to create a dirty bomb which could cause widespread contamination. Enhanced security measures at these hospitals and increased training for local first responders is essential in order to respond to this threat. Security measures recently completed at the University of Pennsylvania provide a model that should be replicated across the country.”
Radiological material, specifically cesium-137, is used in certain medical and research facilities around the country. If this material falls into the wrong hands, it could be used in the construction of a radiological dispersal device also known as a dirty bomb. Security upgrades are required at these hospitals to secure this radiological material.
The University of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia have recently completed security upgrades and emergency response training that provide a template that should be followed to decrease the potential threat of terrorists targeting radiological materials at hospitals.
Senator Casey called for Administrator D’Agostino to budget for adequate resources to implement these security updates nationwide.
Senator Casey is the co-founder of the Senate Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Caucus and has made combating the threat of nuclear terrorism a top priority. Senator Casey’s Nuclear Trafficking Prevention Act would make selling nuclear material a crime against humanity, make it easier to prosecute traffickers and strengthen penalties for those convicted.