A low-flying helicopter will gather radiological readings around Puget Sound from July 11-28. The helicopter will fly a grid pattern at an altitude of about 300 feet to collect data. The flyovers will start in Seattle and Bellevue before moving to other areas of King and Pierce Counties, including Tacoma.
Mapping the normal amounts and location of radioactive material will provide a baseline for comparison to assess contamination if there were a nuclear incident like the events in Fukushima, Japan. State radiation experts expect to find natural radioactivity and material produced by licensed radioactive material users such as hospitals.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is overseeing the project as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measurement System conducts the flyover. The project has been in planning since 2009 and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Information about the project is available on the DOH’s Aerial Radiological Survey website.