Internal Audit Criticizes CBP Field Operations for not Testing Rail Cargo from Canada and Mexico for Radiation

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Truck passes through a U.S. border radiation portal monitor (photo: Center for International Trade & Security)

Federal border agents are supposed to check all inbound freight trains for radiation threats, but a government watchdog found this rule is often ignored.


A radiation isotope identifier device (RIID) is used by the Office of Field Operations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection to determine if there are nuclear materials on trains and trucks coming into the United States. But out of 222 rail shipments requiring examination by the RIID that went through six unidentified ports, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general discovered 160 of the shipments, or 72% of the total, were not checked using the specialized equipment, according to a report (pdf) released earlier this month.


The IG’s report noted customs agents “may have failed to require examinations of rail shipments that were at a higher risk to contain contraband, dangerous goods, or weapons of mass destruction.” In addition, the agents “may also have failed to detect potential instruments of terrorism or dangerous materials from entering the United States.”


The IG made six recommendations to improve the use of radiation detectors at U.S. borders; Customs and Border Protection concurred with all of them.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Did Not Effectively Target and Examine Rail Shipments From Canada and Mexico (Department of Homeland Security, Inspector General) (pdf)

Cross-Border Railroad’s Terror Threat (by Matt Potter, San Diego Reader)

After Questionable Results in New York, Federally-Funded Nuclear Detection Moves on to Los Angeles (by Ken Broder, AllGov)

Homeland Security Cancels $230 Million Radiation Detection Program (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Tracy 9 years ago
As mentioned by others, this is the work of the Office of Field Operations in CBP, not Border Patrol. Please know what division in CBP you are talking about.
Mike 9 years ago
False headline designed to get attention. Border Patrol does not check cargo at the ports. That would be Office of Field Operations (formerly US Customs). Media propaganda designed for drama vs. actual facts.....for shame.
Julie 9 years ago
Your title "Internal Audit Criticizes Border Patrol....." is incorrect. CBP's Office of Field Operations checks the trains when they cross the border. The Border Patrol is primarily responsible for apprehending aliens crossing illegally through the deserts, mountains, etc. Google it to see the difference. Don't besmirch the U.S.B.P.

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