Passport Systems Inc. Reaffirms That Its Cargo Radiation Detection Technology Can Solidify Security At Seaports Around The Globe

North Billerica, MA – July 20, 2016 — Responding to questions raised during a congressional hearing on nuclear smuggling risks in the United States, Passport Systems, Inc. affirmed today that it has developed state-of-the-art radiation detection technology that can help domestic and foreign seaports thwart nuclear terrorists seeking to transport radioactive materials.

Robert Ledoux, President, CEO, and Director of Passport Systems, Inc., today offered reassurances to lawmakers concerned about whether effective and efficient cargo scanning technology is available. He said that Passport’s advanced scanning technology can play a major role in protecting people and property in the U.S. and in foreign countries.

“At the hearing, subcommittee members cited the need for technology that can accurately detect nuclear threats and contraband without significantly slowing the shipping process,” Dr. Ledoux said. “We have developed that technology and it is already being deployed at the port in Boston. It is ready to be deployed to other ports in the U.S. and internationally. Our SmartScan 3D™ cargo scanner can protect people and property from dirty bombs and other nuclear threats.”

Dr. Ledoux said the SmartScan 3D system automatically identifies any radioactive material, including “actinides” that may signal a weapon of mass destruction or smuggled special nuclear materials, after the cargo has been unloaded onto conveyances. The non-intrusive cargo inspections also detect explosives and contraband such as drugs, tobacco, and firearms – a growing concern among security professionals and lawmakers.

The need for such technology was a focus of a joint hearing on July 7 by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation and House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. During the hearing, officials repeatedly testified that “gaps remain” in securing nuclear and radiological materials around the globe despite progress over the last 20 years, and acknowledged the challenges that the U.S. faces in protecting its ports from smuggled materials.

Jennifer Grover, Director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues at the Government Accounting Office, testified that “with about 12 million cargo shipments arriving each year in the U.S. – the U. S. maritime ports do indeed remain vulnerable to smuggling…CBP {U.S. Customs and Border Protection} has determined that it does not have the resources to examine every shipment. So instead what they are doing is counteracting the smuggling threat by identifying and examining at risk shipments. Yet ensuring this approach functions properly is indeed still a work in progress.”

Passport will this fall unveil SmartScan at a first of its kind facility at the Massachusetts Port Authority, Port of Boston’s Conley Container Terminal. The facility is part of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) project under the Nuclear and Radiological Imaging Platform-Advanced Technology Demonstration project that was competitively awarded to Passport Systems in 2012.

“Safety and security are Massport’s top priorities and we have worked closely with the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the US Coast Guard and Passport Systems to have Conley Terminal be on the cutting edge of detection,’’ said Lisa Wieland, Massport’s Port Director. “We will continue to embrace new technology to augment the existing systems that keep our ports safe.’’

As noted at the subcommittee hearing, a limited X-ray scanning process is used at most ports today. Dense or thick objects, which could hide nuclear threats or contraband, require that individuals open the containers and inspect the objects by hand; it slows the shipping process by hours and the process could be dangerous for inspectors.

By contrast, SmartScan doesn’t require that containers be opened. The technology scans a container, provides a three-dimensional map of the cargo, and sends alerts to flag suspicious cargo. Within minutes, it determines if an actinide is present and whether it is a bomb.

SmartScan works like this: Trucks leaving the port with cargo are conveyed through a 176-foot tunnel. The cargo is inspected using high-resolution x-rays and other passive radiation detection methods with proprietary technologies. Three-dimensional images based on the effective atomic number and density are generated as the system measures photon signals to determine anomalies, such as explosives or radioactive material. Additional technology determines if special nuclear materials are present.

At the hearing, Wayne Brasure, Acting Director of DNDO, noted that DNDO is developing and evaluating emerging technologies to detect shielded materials while clearing benign conveyances at land and maritime ports.

“One such effort is a project with the Massachusetts Port Authority, DHS Science and Technology’s Border and Maritime Security Division, and the United Kingdom Home Office to develop and evaluate the next generation non-intrusive inspection imaging equipment,” Mr. Brasure testified. “The technology will be evaluated in the Port of Boston next year and, if successful, will demonstrate a next generation integrated system capable of detecting both nuclear material and contraband.”

Following the hearing, Dr. Ledoux noted that while utilizing the technology at other U.S. ports would increase security for the nation, it’s also critical that foreign countries adopt comprehensive scanning technology at their ports since a key component of America’s antismuggling strategy is to scan U.S.-bound cargo before it leaves foreign ports.

Mr. Brasure testified that efforts to “secure the homeland from the threat of nuclear terrorism begins overseas.” He added that the security strategy relies “largely on the decisions of sovereign foreign partners to develop and enhance their own national and regional detection architectures.”

Thus, Dr. Ledoux said that he and his colleagues at Passport are constantly meeting with foreign officials and international port security personnel to raise awareness of the availability of SmartScan.

“America needs to ensure that foreign governments are adopting the most comprehensive scanning equipment available,” he said. “We are working to have SmartScan installed at ports around the world. That will make our country safer.”

About Passport Systems
Passport Systems was founded to develop and commercialize new technologies to address the threats facing the world in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Founded by a team of MIT technologists and entrepreneurs, Passport Systems has proudly developed two cutting-edge product lines: The SmartScan 3D™ Automated Cargo Inspection System, based on nuclear resonance fluorescence technology, and the SmartShield™ Networked Radiation Detection System, using advanced data fusion algorithms. For further details on Passport Systems and its products and services, please visit, and follow us on Twitter at @PassportSys and on Facebook at

Share Passport News