Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

DHS X-ray Car Scanners Now At Border Crossings

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the scanning-what-you-have-to-declare dept.

Security 295

OverTheGeicoE writes "CNET has a story on DHS' whole car X-ray scanners and their potential cancer risks. The story focuses on the Z Portal scanner, which appears to be a stationary version of the older Z Backscatter Vans. The story provides interesting pictures of the device and the images it produces, but it also raises important questions about the devices' cancer risks. The average energy of the X-ray beam used is three times that used in a CT scan, which could be big trouble for vehicle passengers and drivers should a vehicle stop in mid-scan. Some studies show the risk for cancer from CT scans can be quite high. Worse still, the DHS estimates of the Z Portal's radiation dosage are likely to be several orders of magnitude too low. 'Society will pay a huge price in cancer because of this,' according to one scientist."

cancel ×

295 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I don't think it's X-Rays (-1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38708922)

I take this article with a HUGE grain of salt.

Everyone knows X-Rays can't penetrate metal.

Still, there is SOME kind of scanner technology that they DO use to inspect the cargo of 18-wheelers without emptying out the load. But it's NOT X-Rays.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38708964)

The article specified X-rays or gamma rays. I hate the DHS more than anybody else here, because I have to drive through their checkpoints on a fairly regular basis, but I would hope that they would at least make everybody get out of the car and at a safe distance away from the machine while the scan is performed. They're looking for large amounts of money, dope, guns, or explosives; things that would not be carried on a person.

Also, as the guy below stated, freedom-loving Americans (and foreigners with business in the 'States) need to be more proactive at expressing their displeasure of the DHS.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709786)

Freedom loving Americans, that takes me back to my childhood to just before the fall of the U.S.S.R. Freedom loving Americans vs the Freedom Hating Commies.

Strange, some of the stuff we are doing now to preserve our freedom would sound like B-rate uber-U.S.S.R. activities back then.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38708976)

1) It uses X-rays
2) The device is controlled by a PC running a Java app
3) It was put together by freelancers

Posting AC because NDA

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709292)

Same AC. Just wanted to clarify due to the present "Score:4, Funny", that I'm completely serious. They contacted me in 2006 for this project, since I have both a programming and physics background. Once I learned more, I told them to stuff it.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709778)

John H? Is that you?

(also posting anon.)

Disregard (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709806)

Disregard that, I suck cocks

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709458)

Java? So they're breaking the EULA too?

Or does control of radiographic equipment not count as a nuclear facility?

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709548)

I'm sure they either have a special license, or simply don't care.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709028)

Everyone knows X-Rays can't penetrate metal.

So that my job in xraying metal is fake?

http://www.vidisco.com/NDTInspection.asp [vidisco.com]

These xrays are much more powerful (intensity and energy) than medical xrays.

I know someone that walked in front of one of these running machines a few decades ago (by accident, of course). He sufferred accute radiation poisoning that required almost 2 weeks to recover. Day after exposure, he almost could not walk.

Still, there is SOME kind of scanner technology that they DO use to inspect the cargo of 18-wheelers without emptying out the load. But it's NOT X-Rays.

Keep repeating after me. Ignorance is bliss. Ignorance is bliss. Ignorance is BLISS!

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (4, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709228)

The DHS looked at surveillance from vans with long-distance X-ray capability
http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2011/03/02/docs-reveal-tsa-plan-to-body-scan-pedestrians-train-passengers/ [forbes.com]
e.g. "drive-by" mode and covert screening from vans http://www.as-e.com/zbv/ [as-e.com]
http://epic.org/privacy/body_scanners/Body_Scan_FOIA_Docs_Feb_2011.pdf [epic.org]
They build up a 3d like view of metal vehicles. You would think every person in the area would get into shielded rooms (control and guarded waiting room) as the vehicle in question was scanned.
I guess radiation is now 100% safe in the USA.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709474)

Come on, everyone knows only terrorists get cancer!

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709400)

These xrays are much more powerful (intensity and energy) than medical xrays.

Which is the problem ( well, the health problem.. the fact we are doing it at all is another issue ) I guess this ensures that i will never be traveling abroad. While I'm already middle aged, i don't want to push my luck and shorten my lifespan, or destroy my quality of life as i get older..

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (4, Insightful)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709634)

Then you're probably better off emigrating ASAP.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (1)

Mabhatter (126906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709720)

Anybody designing these machines has to know the rules. The industrial one are necessary to be amped up and VERY clear they are not for people.

The people selling these know it's a gravy train they riding. Just like the telcos, there is certainly assured immunity from lawsuits when improper maintenance makes these even WORSE for radiation.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709038)

X-Rays can penetrate metal if they are powerful enough.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709052)

I hope you're joking!

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709146)

Actually, people who know things about (hard) X-Rays know that they can and do penetrate metal,
it only attenuates the photons, so if you turn the power up you can image through anything
(though it gets hard with 2.5 inch think solid steel, which cars generally don't contain.)

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (-1, Offtopic)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709380)

Actually, people who know things about (hard) X-Rays know that they can and do penetrate metal

And hard light holograms are nearly indestructible! But somehow that still doesn't make them any less cowardly.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709152)

You do realize that your average trailer, the kind that semis pull around, has barely any metal in it, right? I've seen in the back of hundreds of them over the years and they're actually mostly wood with a thing metal covering to protect against the rain. It's probably not any thinker than the metal in a soda can.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709154)

It is far too simplistic to say that "X-Rays can't penetrate metal."

X-rays are absorbed by a material by interacting with the electrons around the nucleus (or with the nucleus itself). This is a statistical question - X-rays will penetrate a short distance into a material. the more dense the material or higher energy (frequency) of the X=rays, the less they will penetrate. See for example
here [ndt-ed.org] .

There is a table at the bottom of penetration depths through lead as a function of energy of the X-rays.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (4, Informative)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709156)

Funny, then, that my research focuses on the behavior of X-rays through metals. X-rays can penetrate metals, depending on the energy of the radiation used. high-energy radiation passes through almost everything, and interacts only a little with intermediate objects. Hence, it is very well possible they are using X-rays for this, but they can pretty much only use it to visualize the internal metallic structure of objects as it will pass right through people.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (1)

todfm (1973074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709354)

What about the x-rays penetrating window glass?

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (4, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709544)

It is likely Gamma, and it is actually an older technology. The DDR (Stasi-run former easter Germany) used Cobalt-60 sources to screen trucks for people hiding in them. Anybody in there would have gotten a serious dosage. Sometimes the drivers got this dosage as well, as the shielding on the Cobalt was retracted to early (this was done for moving trucks). All this was done in secret.

I think, once again, it is quite clear where the DHS got its inspiration.

And yes, even X-Rays penetrate metal just fine, just crank up the intensity. Typically Gamma is used though, because it penetrates a lot better at lower intensities. On the minus-side, for Gamma you need radioactive sources, while X-Rays can just be generated with electricity.

gamma rays are being used in some situations (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709800)

you can look up MVACIS, there is a pic of one in the wikipedia article on backscatter x-rays (hmm wonder how that got there)

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709602)

On the planet Earth, the difference between x-rays and gamma rays is the origin of the energy - gamma rays arise from atomic nuclei, whereas x-rays arise from electrical, thermal, and magnetic sources.

Only astronomers differentiate the two according to an energy cutoff.

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (0)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709630)

Considering that the walls, roof and floor of an 18 wheeler trailer is not metal, xrays penetrate just fine. What I have a problem with is the amount of irradiated metal that will now be moving down the road, affecting everyone and the damn cockroaches. How soon will it be before we have to bow down before our cockroach overloads?

Re:I don't think it's X-Rays (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709738)

X-Rays can penetrate metal. For example, a standard thing in car fabrication is to X-ray the welds to look for defects.

It's a matter of intensity as with all things - for example your hands look pretty opaque under normal sunlight, but if you put a torch up against them you can see the glow coming through quite clearly.

The issue here is that the intensity of X-Ray radiation you'd use to scan through a steel and aluminium car body is considerably higher then that used in a conventional medical X-Ray.

Here's a fix. (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38708924)

We should have a one-day travel strike, where nobody travels except on essential tasks. Repeat regularly until results are obtained.

When the TSA starts costing businesses money, our bought-and-paid-for Congress will rein them in.

(Heh, you probably thought a B&PFC wasn't good for anything.)

Re:Here's a fix. (5, Insightful)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709046)

The TSA should be abolished. This is getting ridiculous. I think their new plan is that if the "terrorists" have cancer they will be too weak to be a threat and the public will be too sick to be a nuisance as well. I'm slowly caring less and less about the TSA grunts, but why are they not required to wear radiation monitors for their own protection? The idiots in charge are not getting exposed to any of this, nor are they using know best practices for dealing with radiation.

Re:Here's a fix. (3, Funny)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709130)

a) wouldn't terrorists with cancer be more likely to go on a suicide bombing mission?

b) radiation monitors probably cost more than the value TSA puts on its front line staff

Re:Here's a fix. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709286)

The workers will get a pretty medal (designed in USA made in ... ) and expect to see a term like "national sacrifice zones" dusted off as a sound bite.

Re:Here's a fix. (2)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709432)

The workers will get a pretty medal (designed in USA made in ... ) and expect to see a term like "national sacrifice zones" dusted off as a sound bite.

The workers who have to be around these souped up xray machines for a full shift five days a week will probably get bad simultaneous cases of several varieties of cancer much sooner than even the most frequent traveler going through it. Then the government will be on the hook for huge lawsuits and removing the machines. The trick is to avoid being said frequent traveler until then.

Re:Here's a fix. (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709190)

This is getting ridiculous.

Getting? It was ridiculous eight years ago. At this point, they've crossed the line into gross criminal negligence, reckless endangerment, and willful malfeasance. They should not merely be abolished. They, along with everyone who voted to create them, should be sent to prison with very, very long terms to set an example for anyone who might contemplate usurping the Constitution of this great nation in the future.

Throwing them out on the street with no jobs is way, way too good for these unAmerican traitors.

Re:Here's a fix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709570)

You sound just like a terrorist. Expect an investigation, tax audit, and the name "dgatwood" to be added to the do not fly list.

We may have the right to free speech, but there are limits to freedom and you need to use it more responsibly.

http://news.slashdot.org/story/12/01/14/233203/dhs-monitors-social-media-for-political-dissent

Re:Here's a fix. (3, Interesting)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709118)

1. What is an 'essential task'? Travel for work? That vacation I planned and booked a year ago?
2. Where have you been? People stopped travelling in droves after 9/11. You recall what happened? We bailed out the airlines.

I share the sentiment, but its an oligolpoly at best. There are no alternatives to air travel.

Re:Here's a fix. (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709198)

It's too bad the airlines can't afford to buy congress. They're really the ones who are suffering by all this...

Re:Here's a fix. (3, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709408)

They already got their bailout, just like General Motors & the banks.

Re:Here's a fix. (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709462)

Strikes don't work well against government requirements--since their budget comes from taxes, going on strike isn't going to cause them any hardship whatsoever, like it would if you tried to boycott a store.

Re:Here's a fix. (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709530)

Here's a better fix. Prosecute the individuals operating the machines for assault with a deadly weapon. Keep doing it until no one is willing to work for the TSA anymore.

Re:Here's a fix. (1)

Mabhatter (126906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709756)

It already DID cost airlines money.... Congress would rather bail out than back down now. The "security" industry is probably a significant size compared to the airline industry atvthis point... And then they'd have to move all their stuff!!

This will definitely increase cancer risks (4, Insightful)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38708938)

This will definitely increase cancer risks. In particular, it allows the Department of Homeland Security to spread and thrive.

Re:This will definitely increase cancer risks (-1, Troll)

Jimbookis (517778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709128)

Cancer risks? Only for the Mexicans hiding in the door panels of the car. Surely people sitting in the car normally can hop out while the scan occurs.

Re:This will definitely increase cancer risks (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709160)

There's a reason why the X-ray technicians usually leave the room when X-rays are being taken. Just being in the same room ensures that you'll get at least some exposure. The new digital equipment is better than the older ones were, but you're still talking about additional radiation.

Re:This will definitely increase cancer risks (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709260)

Did you even read the summary, let alone the article, or at least look at the pictures? You are supposed to drive through the thing.

Re:This will definitely increase cancer risks (1)

Sarius64 (880298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709332)

Unfortunately, this is the only way you could get standing in the 9th District. All of us citizens are just here to finance the utopia, bend over, and STFU.

Re:This will definitely increase cancer risks (5, Funny)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709360)

But look at the health benefits if it stops people smoking weed. A car containing 10 kilos of weed contains nearly 8 kilos of weed, meaning that not only will someone go to jail for possessing 5 kilos of weed, but also the people the dealer would have supplied will be unable to obtain this dangerous drug and will perhaps instead turn to safe, legal drugs such as alcohol or tobacco.

Re:This will definitely increase cancer risks (1)

Dantoo (176555) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709700)

"A car containing 10 kilos of weed contains nearly 8 kilos of weed, meaning that not only will someone go to jail for possessing 5 kilos of weed

What in hell have you been smoking?

The CT Scan Claim from TFA (5, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38708940)

"One of the studies, which examined more than 1,000 adult patients at four hospitals, projected that the dose of radiation received in a single heart scan at age 40 would later result in cancer in 1 in 270 women and 1 in 600 men.

Risks were lower for those who received a head CT scan: 1 in 8,100 women and 1 in 11,080 men would likely develop cancer from the radiation, the study said."

These numbers don't have a direct translation for "Z Portal" cancer risk, but they're surprisingly high. Hopefully we get some very robust studies to examine the effects of the DHS scans in the near future. I guess it's too much to hope that the Department of Homeland Sarcoma would stop using the scanners until public and peer reviewed science exists to prove their safety.

Re:The CT Scan Claim from TFA (5, Informative)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38708990)

"One of the studies, which examined more than 1,000 adult patients at four hospitals, projected that the dose of radiation received in a single heart scan at age 40 would later result in cancer in 1 in 270 women and 1 in 600 men.

To be fair, heart scans are the high mark for radiation dosage. Since you need to look at how the heart actually moves/cycles it take much longer to image compared to other parts of the body. There are also many different CT scanners. Some of the high slice scanners reduce the dosage considerably. The Toshiba and Philips 320/256 slice scanners can image the heart in a single rotation rather than continual helical rotations. There are also several new algorithms that use lower dosages with a worse s/n ratio then clean it up in post processing. Regardless, I don't expect DHS/TSA to concern themselves with proper radiation procedures, nor the same scrutiny towards calibration as medical devices.

Re:The CT Scan Claim from TFA (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709166)

At the same time, medical ethics permits that risk because the potential benefit is higher and accrues to the patient undergoing the risk. No such benefit exists for a DHS scan. We get all the risk but no benefit.

Re:The CT Scan Claim from TFA (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709588)

At the same time, medical ethics permits that risk because the potential benefit is higher and accrues to the patient undergoing the risk. No such benefit exists for a DHS scan. We get all the risk but no benefit.

I couldn't agree more.

social security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38708942)

Maybe they are trying to fix social security by having everyone die of cancer before they can collect benefits.

Re:social security (-1, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709062)

Cancer deaths are drawn out and expensive.

The best opportunity for an efficient culling would be an incurable pathogen with enough incubation time to allow it to spread, with a medium-high rate of end-stage lethality. It would be great if somebody could engineer a pathogen that kills only baby-boomers and generation x-ers. 99% of the world's problems would be solved.

Re:social security (1, Insightful)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709094)

Could someone mod baby hitler out of existence?

Re:social security (3, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709450)

Prob is, he has a point.

The US has the best healthcare in the world, as long as your insurance is good and properly paid. Get your health insurance cancelled, you'll go bankrupt just trying to stay alive.

Re:social security (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709802)

So maybe Congress can create a health-care "reform" bill so complicated no one can understand it, but filled with enough time bombs and hidden boobytraps to eventually crash the private insurance industry. Wow, that's an incredibly cynical idea. I can't believe I could think of something so sinister.

Thanks for the "help" (0, Troll)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38708950)

The origin of the scanners can be traced back to a not-so-obvious source: President Obama's signature American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus bill. That awarded a $27.3 million contract to American Science and Engineering, or AS&E, to build 35 scanners, according to a description at Recovery.gov. Soon afterward, X-ray scanners appeared at the San Ysidro, Calif., checkpoint, sometimes called the world's busiest land crossing; other locations listed in the specification include El Paso, Texas, Columbus, N.M., and Nogales, Ariz.

Oh, for crying out loud. Thanks a lot, government..

Brought to you by the same administration that gave guns to international crime lords. [forbes.com]

Re:Thanks for the "help" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709540)

Yeah, because without that operation, the crime lords would have been forced to fight with sticks and stones.

Right.

No matter how much the Right Wing Spin Machine wants to get people upset over it, it's not a real crime or offense. It was a rather standard undercover operation which recognized that the contribution was minimal, if non-existent, versus the gain from potentially being able to shut the whole thing down.

They didn't just do it with no purpose or forethought, but with a salubrious intent.

The same cannot be said of Nixon's Watergate burglars.

Re:Thanks for the "help" (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709704)

Giving guns to crime lords that will be used in murders for the next ten years isn't a crime or offense?! Lying about knowledge of the operation isn't a crime or offense? Talk about a spin machine.

No wonder you posted anonymously.

Re:Thanks for the "help" (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709790)

Hey not only did they do it once, they did it twice. There's a second gun-runner program that was dumping guns. "white" something or other.

Self defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38708970)

So if I open fire on one of these, will I have a case for self defense?

Re:Self defense? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709014)

Yes. But since you'll be dead, it won't make much difference.

Good bye America.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709012)

What else to say than "it is another brick in the wall".
Geek reference : Fortress, it will end up like that anyway.

Where is the truck sized one? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709018)

Where is the truck sized one?

What happens when someone builds a trigger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709024)

If these things are going to project energy of a specific type and level, what happens if someone builds a device to trigger who knows what that activates when it senses that energy?

Re:What happens when someone builds a trigger... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709318)

Think of the settings e.g. bike, car, van, truck, big truck, heavy engineering equipment...
Your paper work shows your flagged as having sold your home, moved cash around the world and seem to be emigrating .. A final zap good-bye

wont you think of the children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709080)

They may be deformed cancer ridden and dead by their twenties but at least they will be safe fom evil terrorists.

Only when properly calibrated! (5, Insightful)

JavaTHut (9877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709092)

The average energy of the X-ray beam used is three times that used in a CT scan

This assumes professional calibration! This should read "The average energy of the X-ray beam when calibrated by an apathetic TSA employee is a hell of a lot more than three times that used in a CT scan calibrated by a hospital technician"

Re:Only when properly calibrated! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709246)

Indeed.

Who thinks these things will have some kind of "high power mode" for scanning lorries with thicker plates, or just because regular mode doesn't penetrate very well?

Who thinks that "high power mode" will end up being turned on 90% of the time?

Re:Only when properly calibrated! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709692)

Who thinks that "high power mode" will end up being turned on 90% of the time?

More like 100% of the time. Once you get a setting that "works," why change it?

Re:Only when properly calibrated! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709422)

These are not medical devices, and so

* They are not subject to FDA Approval,
* They only have to meet medical device safety standards 'voluntarily'
* They may not undergo a lot of engineering. Are there safety interlocks? Are these hardware, or software? IE, is there a hardware restriction on how powerful a xray the device can produce? Or is it only software?

Re:Only when properly calibrated! (5, Insightful)

rHBa (976986) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709820)

For its part, Homeland Security says the dose is safe and based on commonly accepted government standards (PDF) established by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement, which would permit 2,500 scans a year for each person. CBP's specifications also require the manufacturer to "perform an evaluation of the potential effect of radiation exposure on public safety on the proposed system." In addition, a CBP representative told CNET that the machines are currently only used in secondary inspections (most people go through just the primary inspection).

I think, as a good will gesture, the Director/CEO of the TSA and his family should undergo 2,500 scans a year.

Then I'd think about believing it's safe.

Cancer Helps The Economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709138)

There is no reason for the government to care about people's health within a capitalist county, since hospitals are businesses, just like any other business. The hospitals get more money by keeping people sick than by solving the health issues, especially when expensive tests are preferred because they are newer (newer always is assumed to be better in a capitalist mindset brainwashed by planned obsolescence). The only thing limiting hospital's ability to keep people sick is the judicial system prosecuting liability. So, the more cancer people can accept as "necessary", the more money for hospitals (with more long-term illnesses that require expensive drugs and treatments), and the economy will be improved... especially when you consider how many baby-boomers this will impact (they are more prone to receive the cancer based on their age).

Re:Cancer Helps The Economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709468)

I suggest you look up the fallacy of the broken window.

Sounds like we might as well socialize medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709150)

Really, if the government is causing Cancer, they might as well be responsible for everything else. Why not? It'll save on the litigation costs, and fix the rest of the problems with the system.

Sounds like a win/win to me.

again (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709180)

So, in addition to the pile of civil liberties and massive mounds of cash, we also get to have cancer and miscarriages inflicted on innocents in the name of the failing war on drugs.

Canadian border has had these... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709210)

A friend of mine visits Canada annually and described this type of automotive scan. He and his wife were allowed to exit their vehicle before it was scanned.

This was a truck mounted unit and may use different technology - but it provided a detailed scan which would show hidden people, drugs, and other things in their trunk or other hiding places.

Seems like the terrorists won (5, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709336)

No need for other terrorist attacks: the US govt (TSA) terrorizes and, possible, kills their own citizens. What's more surreal: the citizens pay for it!!

Motorcyclists? (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709350)

Since these are fixed emplacements, how can I be sure that the device isn't blasting me with X-Rays when I cross back from Canada?

Re:Motorcyclists? (1)

bobstreo (1320787) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709414)

Lead lined chaps.

Re:Motorcyclists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709658)

I was watching that border patrol program a little while ago and one of the agents wanted to check a bicycle for concealment's; he asked the operator what to do and to my disbelief he rode the bike through the scanner. I find it hard to believe that the scanner has a bicycle setting safe for humans.

"High energy" misleading (4, Informative)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709352)

The average energy of the X-ray beam used is three times that used in a CT scan

This may or may not be a misleading statement. There's inadequate context and specificity in the article. "Energy" here could refer to the total amount of ionizing radiation energy delivered to a person in the scanner, in which case these portal scanners could be considered extremely dangerous, since a typical CT is already a substantial and potentially dangerous radiation dose. Alternatively, the word "energy" may refer to the energy of the individual x-ray photons. In other words, if a typical CT uses 100keV x-rays and these scanners use 300keV. That is probably what was meant. It's clinically meaningless. Within reasonable ranges of several tens of keV to several MeV, only the total absorbed dose really matters health-wise, not the energies of the individual particles.

With that said, I still don't condone this type of intrusive inspection - even at the border.

Hey, the call it the LEDPNIS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709440)

FTA:
[Blockquote]"Low Energy Drive-through Portal Non-intrusive Inspection Systems"[/blockquote].
That is, LED PNIS.
I don't think you can have enough protection against such a weapon in the hands of the TSA.

Re:"High energy" misleading (4, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709766)

It's almost certainly the latter. You need higher energy X-rays to penetrate metal and "energy" is almost never used to refer to intensity, much less dose.

They have been doing this for months (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709364)

First, I haven't read TFA but, I live 5 min form a us Canada border crossing. They have been doing this for months now. When they scan the vehicles they have the occupants exit the vehicle and stand in a "safe area" over 100 ft away from the truck doing the scanning.

What if you don't consent? (5, Interesting)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709374)

I'm wondering what if you don't consent to the x-ray. Will they throw your ass in jail for not willing to cooperate? If you are a tourist from Canada, are you allowed to turn-around and not go to the states? (this will obviously complicate any future returns)

It seems people have already had problems when they turn around at the airport or refuse the other xray equipment.

I'd like to see a waiver form. Do you consent to an xray? Are you aware that these pose a cancer risk? Are you aware that these machines may not be sufficiently or professionally calibrated which may increase your risk of cancer?

I'm a Canadian. So long as these scanners are in place, I'm going to reconsider any traveling to the US.

This policy is in place to catch money/drug/weapon smugglers and presumably terrorists. None of this will halt.

Re:What if you don't consent? (5, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709824)

Based on my experience with DHS checkpoints (at this time, things will undoubtedly get worse as time progresses), as long as you do not raise your voice or object, they will search your vehicle and all of your persons, including warrant checks for all. If they find anything like a gun or a small bag of drugs, they will run all of the checks and contact the local highway patrol to do the actual booking. This "keeps America safe" while generating plenty of revenue for the states.

If you do raise your voice or object, they will charge you with a blanket offense like "insulting a federal officer" or "terrorist threats." Don't laugh - an unarmed transgender [youtube.com] with both arms in the air was tazed in the crotch by the BLM pigs. S/he was later charged with "terrorist threats."

Anyway, if you're clean, you will be released eventually, put on a watch-list, and harassed everywhere you go. God bless America.

Safety? (5, Insightful)

mrquagmire (2326560) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709410)

The problem here is that these machines (and the ones like them at the airports) were never about public nor personal safety. They were always about creating the appearance that we are safer and making a few people with ties to the TSA quite wealthy. Until we actually fix the military-industrial-complex-like problems that plague our government at almost every level, we will increasingly have to deal with these stupid issues.

Travelling to the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709464)

Not that anyone cares but if one of those things goes between the Canadian and US border than I'm staying out.. not that anyone cares, but screw it.

Killing US citizens... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709472)

... one cancer at a time. The terrorists will thank you the favour. :P

One way trip (2)

grimsnaggle (1320777) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709518)

Given how things are going in America, the next time I leave I may just not bother with the return.

DHS doing now the jobs of terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709608)

Seems like terrorists can now just lay back and let America's crazy so called war against them unravel. They don't have to build bombs, hijack planes or send dealy pathogens anymore. All they have to do is wait, and let the american government kill their own innocent citizens (through cancer-inducing scans), delibaretly and in the name of protecting the latter from the terrorists. Great job! Really. Osama would be proud.

Re:DHS doing now the jobs of terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709662)

The worst problem is, that even putting health risks aside, these scans guarantee actually nothing. Now they'll have an X-ray scan of your vehicle - so what? Will that always be succifient to detect any equipment or components that can be used in some terrorist plot? If yes, how will they prove it was supposed to be used in a terrorist plot? If no, what sense does it all make? Couldn't the same effective result (ie. detection of terrorist equipment at the same success rate) be achieved using different technologies, or without hard-core technology?

Distinct impression: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709642)

The DHS is completely out of control. Like the CIA was (think "united fruit", "bay of pigs", and many, many more) only moreso, with a bigger budget, and including on American Soil[tm] instead of "merely" everywhere else. And still the American People[tm] do nothing. Freedom, liberty, land of the brave? Feh.

Make them eat their own dogfood (5, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38709654)

I don't understand why the government officials that are funding/sponsoring this crap aren't forced to go through all the scanners and such.

Why do they get to fly on private jets and such without having to go through the same invasive searches as the rest of us.

Someone should make all of congress and the executive branch go through this crap before they board their own "all first class", caviar and champagne filled jets.

How much fuel and money could we save if instead of putting congress/executive branch in first class chairs, we stuffed them into cattle car like the rest of us that fly?

To quote Animal Farm, "All animals are created equal, yet some animals are more equal than others."

The should put the vehicle on a conveyor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38709716)

so passengers can get out and walk through a walk-through scanner to the guard wicket. That way passengers are not exposed to the higher level scanner required to scan a vehicle.

Walk through scanner safety would be a future topic to argue.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?