Federal Government Gives DC $30 Million Grant to Protect Against Nuclear Threats

Katherine Rodriguez
By Katherine Rodriguez | September 4, 2014 | 12:28 PM EDT

The Department of Homeland Security announced that the District of Columbia will manage a $30 million grant that will expand its protection against threats posed by "dangerous radiological or nuclear materials."

The grant, which is run by DHS's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, is part of a five-year program called Securing the Cities.

The program started in New York in 2006 and expanded to Los Angeles later on as a way to provide equipment and tools to major metropolitan areas in case a nuclear attack would hit the United States.  Cities in this program have acquired over 6,000 nuclear detection items.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano lauded the program's success in New York back in 2011.

“The Securing the Cities program is a key component of the Department’s efforts to protect the nation from terrorist threats,” said Secretary Napolitano. “The STC pilot program has helped build a capability among first responders to help detect illicit radiological and nuclear weapons or materials in a major metropolitan area that simply did not exist four years ago.”

But the program has also had its fair share of critics in the past.  The Washington Post reported back in 2008 that Senate appropriators deemed the program "technologically unfeasible" for the amount of cost involved.

"Its aims, Senate appropriators warned in a report last year, may be technologically unfeasible. The attempt to create a detection system in New York as a model for other cities is based on assumptions "that run counter to current intelligence in this threat arena, and has no measure of success, nor an end point," they said."

DC's Homeland Security and Management Agency (HSEMA) will receive its first $6 million this year, which will help "build robust nuclear detection capabilities that will protect citizens, businesses, and visitors throughout the nation’s capital," according to HSEMA.

DC Mayor Vince Gray said that much of the funding will be used to "further reduce risk along our area roadways, rail, and maritime pathways."

HSEMA said in a release that "initial efforts will focus on analyzing the region’s current capabilities and planning for post-program sustainment activities."