Late last year, as New Year’s Eve celebrations approached, clandestine teams of government experts took to the streets of four American cities, toting what appeared to be ordinary briefcases and golf bags. With the nation on high alert for terrorist attacks, the teams of nuclear scientists bearing sophisticated radiation detection equipment scoured Washington, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles for “dirty bombs” — conventional explosives designed to spread radioactive material across a small area. Starting on Dec. 22, the squads from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), part of the Department of Energy, fanned out across the four cities, taking measurements 24 hours a day. Their only radiation “spike” came from a rented storage facility in an industrial area near downtown Las Vegas. They found nothing but a homeless man and the cigar-sized radium pellet, a medical device used to treat cancer, that he had found three years earlier and squirreled away in his pillow. Full Story
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