Shipments of illicit nuclear and other radioactive materials through the Chattogram Port have decreased mainly due to strict supervision under the ‘Megaports Initiative’, officials said.
Chattogram Port Authority officials said the Megaports Initiatives was set up by the US Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Office as a Second Line of Defense (SLD) in 2003, to scan and screen as much container traffic as possible at high-volume international seaports for special nuclear and other radiological materials. The US National Nuclear Security Administration has installed 12 Radiation Portal Monitors at Chattogram Port under the ‘Megaports Initiative’.
On November 13, a US team will meet officials of the Ministry of Shipping, National Board of Revenue, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority, to discuss the project, officials said.
They will meet officials of the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) and Chattogram Customs House the following day.
CPA director (security) Lt Col Md Abdul Gaffar told Bangladesh Post, the project was completed with US finance, and is also being maintained. A US team will come to visit the project and discuss with officials.
There is no specific agenda. But it may discuss further extension of the project and the issue of regular maintenance.
A senior official said the port has 12 gates. Of the 12 monitors, six were installed at one gate through which the outbound containers are mainly transported. The rest were installed at four gates. Seven other gates still remain unequipped to detect radioactive stuff.
‘Every gate needs to have monitors to check both in and outbound cargo,’ he said.
In order to detect whether there is any radioactive material or content in any consignment, Chattogram Customs House has installed two types of radiation detection devices, such as the Radioactive Portal Monitoring (RPM) and portable equipment at four gates of Chattogram Port. This radiation detection equipment is used to scan cargo containers for nuclear and other radioactive materials. The equipment deters, detects, and interdicts illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials that might move through the Port.
The Chattogram Customs House in August last year detected radioactive materials in a container, which was disposed of later by the experts of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC).
The customs house also detected another radioactive substance in April 2014, which contained radium and beryllium radiation.
NNSA has completed installations in the Bahamas, Belgium, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Greece, Honduras (SFI Port), Israel, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Oman (SFI Port), Pakistan (SFI Port), Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Singapore, South Korea (SFI Port), Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and other countries.