An Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been scanning approximately 1000 trucks a day at a Missouri highway weigh station since late January.
On Thursday, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. J. Tim Hull said the next generation radiation detector comes at no cost to Missouri taxpayers.
The Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) technology scans for potential nuclear or radiological weapons materials. The ASP is currently scanning trucks headed eastbound toward St. Louis using Interstate 44 in Joplin, Missouri.
Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Hull explained that medical radiation and nuclear waste can only be transported in certain types of containers. The ASP technology, Hull said:
"[is] there to make sure none of them are leaking and pick up on terrorist activity" or "threat material."
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security scrapped an ambitious program to deploy 1,400 ASP machines to scan cargo containers for potential nuclear or radiological weapons materials at U.S. points of entry after a GAO report in 2011 found the program would cost $1.2 billion - much more than DHS officials anticipated.
In July, 2011, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the decision to terminate the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal efforts after the program was highly criticized for both its effectiveness and efficiency. However, DHS announced plans to deploy 13 monitors that were already built and funded in the pilot program -- which already cost U.S. taxpayers $300 million, but didn't say where.
In addition to the GAO report, a National Academy of Sciences report and several lawmakers criticized DHS for rushing the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) technology into the field without proper testing.
The device, installed by the United States Department of Homeland Security's domestic nuclear detection office is being monitored by the Missouri Highway Patrol's commercial vehicle enforcement division.