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Time for annual pre-Marathon tradition: The measuring of the radiation levels

An Energy Department helicopter is flying along the route of the Monday Marathon today. As they do every year a few days before the Boston Marathon route, the crew is recording background radiation levels so they have a baseline to compare to should the worst happen.

Here it is in action:

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Comments

I guess my morning coffee hasn't kicked in yet, because I don't understand what this is for. Are they preparing for the possibility of somebody nuking the marathon or something?

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Radiation exists naturally, so knowing what the radiation looks like before a security risk event (background surveying), then you will be any to tell if, when and where any new radiation shows up.

Presumably they would notice anything exceptionally out of the ordinary for background radiation levels if something were already here, too.

https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/aerial-measuring-system-ams

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Gotcha, that makes sense. Thanks!

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n/t

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There are lots of places that use nuclear radiation in the city. Hospitals, research facilities, etc.

They may change from year to year, so they need to get new base readings.

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There is a company on Albany Street that has on site more radioactive material than any place in the country that is not a nuclear power plant. They do not advertise this, obviously.

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MIT has an experimental nuclear reactor in Cambridge, in plain view right off Mass Ave. What could possibly go wrong?

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I am more than 2 miles from the finish line and they did two passes overhead. Near MGH, so maybe just covering the route from the finish line to there.

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Still flying now, doing the stretch from the reservoir in Chestnut Hill through Fenway towards those final turns to the finish line.

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N412DE/history/20211008/1522Z/KBED

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I can see why having a baseline value could potentially be useful if there was a nuclear incident. But they must have a lot of years worth of data at this point - does it really need to be remeasured every year?

Though I wouldn’t nominate this year to skip it, since October baseline might (?) be different from April.

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2020 was bananas…

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..,. as it buzzed low over Beacon Street to the great astonishment and confusion of the lunchtime crowd out and about or waiting for the trolley

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WE ARE TIRED OF SEEING SHAMUS MOYNIHAN NAME EVERYWHERE!!

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… attention seeking nobody?

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Yes

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What if we turn our microwaves on at the same time?

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… the South End and Chinatown since about 10am. Very annoying but necessary, I suppose.

Thanks for reporting this and saving me a 311 call!

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Why do radiation measurements have to be relative to a baseline?

What would happen if they just measured for dangerous levels on an absolute scale? False positives? False negatives?

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such as in the granite curbs and whatnot, and an evildoer's nuclear stash might not stand out all that much from the background, especially if they try to shield it.

...but probably it's because someone got fancy equipment and wants an excuse to run their helicopter around and justify their budget.

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… necessary for this. Why not a vehicle at street level that would be far less disruptive than a helicopter? I think you provided the answer.

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How you going to get a downward view on the earth from street level?

And when the shit hits the fan, you might not be able to drive that same truck down that street anymore so your street level background is useless.

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… necessary for this. Why not a vehicle at street level that would be far less disruptive than a helicopter? I think you provided the answer.

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So that they can collect data after an incident and compare to eliminate natural sources and see exactly where new sources are coming from. They also use the data they collect for trainings.

From an article from 2015's collections:

This NNSA activity is part of a longstanding effort by the government to establish baseline levels of naturally occurring background radiation in large metropolitan cities that can be used in the event of a dirty or nuclear bomb threat by comparing the baseline data to unnatural spikes in certain types of radiation in an attempt to identify the location of a bomb or bombs.

The AMS mission is to provide a rapid survey of radiation and contamination following a radiological emergency. AMS accomplishes this mission by using specially equipped aircrafts to conduct the surveys. These aircrafts are equipped to detect and measure radioactive contamination on the ground. The AMS uses a sophisticated radiation detection system to gather radiological information and store it on computers, which then can be compared against earlier surveys of naturally occurring background radiation.

NNSA scientists are then able to rapidly develop maps of radiological materials deposited on the ground from a dirty bomb or nuclear bomb detonation and the potential radiation exposure to personnel in the affected areas. This information gives emergency response officials information necessary to effectively respond to the emergency.

https://www.hstoday.us/federal-pages/dhs/nnsa-conducts-background-aerial...

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So that they can collect data and annoy you at the same time.

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