Jacksonville Port Installs Radiation Monitors

Ten new monitors designed to scan every cargo container that passes through the port


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Ten new radiation monitors have been installed by U.S. Customs at Jacksonville Port Authority terminals to scan every cargo container leaving the port for nuclear weapons and dirty bombs.

Jacksonville is the first port in Florida to receive the devices and the fourth in the nation after Los Angeles, Newark, N.J., and Seattle.

"It gives us another aspect of security. It takes care of a gap," said Rick Ferrin, executive director of the port authority.

Because of the Super Bowl and the large amount of military cargo that moves through the ports, Jacksonville was placed high on a list to get the radiation monitors.

"We were scanning cargo going through the port prior to game day," said Richard Quinn, area port director for Customs.

Eight of the 14-foot-high yellow monitors were placed and Talleyrand Marine Terminal and two more were placed at Blount Island Terminal.

So far, there have been about 10 false alarms. The machines are sensitive enough to detect if truck drivers have had medical treatments involving radiation. They have also been triggered by a load of bananas, which contain a large amount of potassium, kitty litter and floor tile.