Project Cyclamen radiation monitoring with guns - what about medical radionucleide or cancer patients ?

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The Independent carries a report that details of Project Cyclamen are to be presented to the Metropolitan Poice Authority:

Hunt for 'dirty' bombs is stepped up with new passenger scanners By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent Published: 22 February 2006

Screening systems to stop terrorists from smuggling nuclear devices - such as atom or "dirty" bombs - into Britain are being installed at airports, ports and railway stations. Scotland Yard will also test people on the streets of London for nuclear weapons or radioactive material.


The Home Office and the Metropolitan Police have been trialling a series of initiatives to stop a chemical, biological or radioactive attack, and deal with the aftermath of any such terrorist incident, a new report details. Radioactive detection devices have already been fitted at Waterloo international station and Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and all major ports of entry are having similar systems deployed. The Metropolitan Police are trialling a vehicle that contains a machine to detect radioactive material and a "walk-through" scanner.

Ten further vehicles - known as mobile radiation detection units - to take part in stop-and-search and anti-terrorist operations are planned for other parts of the country.

In London the Met intends to fit patrol officers with "escape hoods" that allow them to breathe safely if they come under a radiological, biological or chemical attack. They also have a people carrier that is for "extracting" what the Met calls "significant important persons", such as politicians, police chiefs, and medical specialists, from radiological, chemical or biological attacks, and then decontaminating them.

No decontamination facilities for the general public then, only for "significant important persons" ? That is not acceptable !

Details of the measures, which are part of Operation Cyclamen, are disclosed in a report by Commander Mick Messenger, the officer in charge of the forces response to chemical biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) incidents. It is being presented to the police authority in London tomorrow.

Commander Messenger's report says: "The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] will be involved in trials of the mobile radiological detection capability and use of a pedestrian portal.

"Radiological detection has been/is being installed in major ports and transport hubs. Waterloo international station and Heathrow airport have fixed detection capabilities."

He adds: "Since '9/11' the Metropolitan Police Service has been developing an operational response to a deliberate release of a chemical, biological or radioactive material."

The senior officer discloses that the Met is examining plans to have specialist CBRN teams that can be deployed with firearms officers and surveillance units to check for traces of contamination or radioactivity around a terrorist hideout.

Whoaaa ! Hold on a moment !

Radiation detectors are one thing, but issuing them to the sort of combined surveillance and firearms teams which were involved in the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting could be the recipe for more innocent people to be killed as a result of the inevitable false alarms during a time of high alert.

The report says: "Officers are also equipped with a range of Home Office approved specialist equipment to assess the release of powder, liquid or vapour.

"In addition, the MPS has taken delivery of five purpose-built CBRN vehicles, including one specially designed for the extraction and decontamination of significant important persons."

Why is the Metropolitan Police Service wasting money on duplicating the decontamination functions of the Fire and Rescue Service, who should be far better trained, and have more real life experience of hazardous chemical incidents than the Metropolitan Police ever will ?


Screening systems to stop terrorists from smuggling nuclear devices - such as atom or "dirty" bombs - into Britain are being installed at airports, ports and railway stations. Scotland Yard will also test people on the streets of London for nuclear weapons or radioactive material.

Will the Greater London Assembly or the Metropolitan Police Authority even bother to ask about the training and procedures in the use of these radiation detectors, which will have to be very sensitive, and therefore error prone, if they are being pointed at random to try to scan people in crowds ?

If such detectors are to be of any use in detecting "dirty bombs" rather than actual nuclear weapons, they must be capable of detecting the radio isostopes used in medicine, as that could be one of the main sources of such material.

What about cancer patients and other patients undergoing medical radionucleide tracer procedures e.g. prior to a heart operation for mapping out fine blood vessels etc. ?

Such patients are already warned that they are could set off radiation detectors at airports, which is a controllable situation.

However, given the numbers of such patients in London at any one time, there is a non-negligable chance that their temporary radioactive state will be detected, in secret, or as they randomly pass by, or happen to live next door, ti where a surveillance and firearms team is staking out a suspected terrorist hideout,

There must be proper training and procedures in place to make sure that innocent radioactive medical patients are not threatened or killed by gun toting policemen in a panic, when the radiation detectors give an alarm.


Reuters reports: "Hot" patients setting off radiation alarms that this sort of harassment of medical patients is happening in the USA.

How does the Project Cyclamen team deal with this ?

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