The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday the expansion of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office’s (DNDO) Securing the Cities program to Houston and Chicago, further building upon DHS’s ongoing efforts to increase the nation’s capabilities to detect and protect against radiological and nuclear threats.
“The Securing the Cities program is a key part of the Department’s effort to protect the nation against the malicious use of nuclear and other radioactive materials,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. “Expanding this program to Houston and Chicago will bring these important capabilities to two more of our country’s largest metropolitan areas.”
The Securing the Cities program seeks to reduce the risk of a successful deployment of a radiological or nuclear weapon against major metropolitan areas in the United States. The program assists state and local partner agencies as they build regional capabilities to detect, analyze, and report nuclear and other radioactive materials.
As part of the Securing the Cities program, each region will receive up to $30 million over five years. The initial award to Houston provides $3.5 million to begin the region’s planning and analysis. Future funding will allow DNDO to work with partners in the Houston area to build a robust, regional nuclear detection capability for law enforcement and first response organizations.
DNDO will also provide equipment and assist regional partners in conducting training and exercises to further their nuclear detection capabilities and coordinate with federal operations. Once funding concludes, DNDO will continue to provide subject matter expertise in the areas of training, exercises, and technical support to ensure the region maintains detection capability. Award amount and funding start dates for Chicago will be determined based upon future DHS appropriations.
DHS said, “Initial work in Houston will begin before the conclusion of the current fiscal year. DHS will start work in Chicago in subsequent years, subject to the availability of funding. The program began in 2006 as a pilot project for the New York City/Jersey City/Newark region and expanded to the Los Angeles/Long Beach region in 2012 and the National Capital Region in 2014.”
DHS intends to expand the program to additional major metropolitan areas in the coming years.
“Once fully implemented, the program’s capabilities will extend to protect nearly 100 million people in the country,” DHS stated.