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Port trial N-kit goes national

PUBLISHED: 19:04 14 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:51 03 March 2010

New equipment to detect radioactive material being smuggled into Britain- trialled at Felixstowe - is to be made available at all major ports.

The remote radiological detection devices, which can seek out traces of plutonium or enriched uranium, are being used to stop the possibility of terrorists smuggling a so-called "dirty bomb" inside a container.

New equipment to detect radioactive material being smuggled into Britain- trialled at Felixstowe - is to be made available at all major ports.

The remote radiological detection devices, which can seek out traces of plutonium or enriched uranium, are being used to stop the possibility of terrorists smuggling a so-called "dirty bomb" inside a container.

The Evening Star first revealed in December 2001 that Felixstowe was to be one of three ports where the equipment was to be tested by Customs officers following the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York.

Tests have gone smoothly with the Felixstowe devices triggering one alert last summer where radioactive material was found on a train – later discovered to be a contaminated bolt in a consignment of scrap material.

A Customs and Excise spokesman said £100 million had been allocated by government for anti-smuggling and border security over the next three years.

"Part of that will be used to install the best new technology to screen anything that comes through the borders," he said.

A "dirty bomb" involves terrorists packing radioactive material around a conventional bomb or a bomb containing chemical weapons.

Such a bomb hidden inside a container could be transported into the heart of a city or large town to spread material over a wide area to cause huge long-term health risks or make areas uninhabitable.

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