Why America can’t spot dirty bombs

The Red Team report noted a continued and widespread failure to detect and identify the presence of neutron radiation, also highlighted in the report. This is a big deal because illegally trafficked nuclear and radiological materials are often smuggled inside stolen nuclear density gauges, a type of soil-measuring device used in construction and mining that is highly regulated by federal agencies and extremely dangerous if handled improperly. They contain dangerous levels of radiation and are reported missing or stolen from U.S. facilities about 25 times a year.

In 40 percent of all assessments, the Red Team found issues associated with equipment damages or malfunctions made far worse by ad hoc attempts to prevent overheating or fix devices by placing them in the freezer for no reason. This did not work, obviously.

During covert testing, important checkpoints outside high population cities repeatedly failed to detect the radiological and nuclear materials. One time, in the middle of the day a critical checkpoint was entirely abandoned and left unmanned while all the operators attended the same training. Not a single person was there to prevent the Red Team from walking right through with hazardous materials.