Training ensures that crews remain familiar with protective equipment and procedures during CBRN attacks. (Pic: Staff Sgt Crystal Housman, US Air National Guard)

The US Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office has expanded it ‘Securing the Cities’ (STC) programme to Boston and New Orleans, to assist these regions to detect, analyse and report nuclear and other radioactive materials. 

“We are committed to working with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments across the country to help them safeguard their communities,” said Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro N. Mayorkas. He said that the STC programme enables the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its partners to focus on the threat of radiological and nuclear terrorism, adding that it will be expanded in the coming years.

The STC programme seeks to reduce the risk of a successful deployment of radiological or nuclear weapons against major metropolitan areas in the USA. Through this project, the Department provides radiological and nuclear detection equipment, training, exercise support, and operational and technical subject matter expertise through cooperative agreement grants.

Both Boston and New Orleans will be initially funded $2m for planning and analysis, while future grants will enable these cities to work with the CWMD office to build robust capabilities.

The STC programme first started in 2006 as a pilot project for the New York City/Jersey City/Newark region before expanding to the Los Angeles/Long Beach region in 2012, the National Capital Region in 2014, the Houston region in 2015, and the Chicago area in 2016.

The CWMD Act of 2018 formally authorised the STC programme and provided for this expansion, which saw DHS more than double the number of cities by rolling out the project in Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle regions.