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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s (DOE/NNSA) will conduct a low-altitude helicopter flight over portions of the Arlington, Va., area July 29 to measure naturally occurring background radiation.
Officials from NNSA announced that the radiation assessment will cover approximately three square miles. A twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System from Joint Base Andrews, will be equipped with radiation sensing technology.
The helicopter will fly in a grid pattern over the area at 150 feet (or higher) above the ground surface, at a speed of approximately 80 miles per hour. Flyovers will occur only during daylight hours and are estimated to take about three hours to complete.
The measurement of naturally occurring radiation to establish baseline levels is a normal part of security and emergency preparedness. NNSA is making the public aware of the upcoming flights so that citizens who see the low-flying aircraft are not alarmed.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing; works to reduce the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit nnsa.energy.gov for more information.