LA gets federal funding boost for nuclear radiation protection


Los Angeles County stretches from the ocean past the mountains to the desert. More than 10 million people live within its 4,000 square miles. And that, security officials say, makes this area a big target for terrorists.

"A 100-percent safety is an illusion, that is a fairy tale," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. "All we can do is get better and better at how we protect this region."

That protection is now getting a boost from the federal government.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an $11.4-million federal grant that will help guard against nuclear threats here.

"This is not an unsafe city. There will always be risk. Our job is to minimize it," said Garcetti.

The mayor says the funds will be used to buy equipment creating a nuclear and radiological detection ring around the city. A big focus is on the port.

"This Port of Los Angeles together with the Port of Long Beach, 43 percent of goods coming to America come through these waters," said Garcetti. "A billion dollars a day just in this port. So that's going to be very important to protect, as well as the safety of our residents."

"Every Coast Guard boarding party already carries detection systems. What we'll have here is the coupling of the federal, state and local enterprise so you see that continuum and there are no breaks," said Dr. Huban Gowadia, Department of Homeland Security's director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.

A new radiological intake center will be housed in L.A.'s Emergency Operation Center. Workers will be tasked with analyzing all the data collected by the detection gear scattered throughout the ports and across the region.

And while law enforcement officials are happy with the fed's $11-million grant, they say another $30 million could be on the way over the next five years.

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