FEBRUARY 05, 2009
Chinese-made equipment purchased for $2.4 million by the U.S. government to scan dangerous cargo at the nation’s busiest seaport has failed miserably for nearly seven months.
It took half a year for authorities to finally admit that American taxpayers got ripped off and national security got put on hold while they played with their highly-touted new gadget, the controversial Mobile Linear Accelerator X-ray Scanning Unit, manufactured in the People’s Republic of China.
Purchased in July with a federal national security grant, the mobile X-ray system is installed on a diesel truck at the Port of Los Angeles, a 7,500-acre facility that annually handles 190 million tons of cargo. Its job is to detect threatening material and devices, but the multi million-dollar machine has proven to be a useless dud that has compromised national security for months.
The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners—appointed by the city’s mayor—is finally considering getting rid of the scanner, though the decision hasn’t been finalized despite a port staff report highly recommending it. A news magazine dedicated to covering government got a hold of the report, which says that field tests and other research determined that the manufacturer failed to meet the requirements of the purchase contract.
Among the more serious problems with the Chinese equipment, according to the port staff report; it consistently failed to operate, the unit’s generator failed during training, the calibration of the radiation detectors failed and there is no system documentation or operational checklists in the English language.
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