What Was that Isotope?


On Wednesday, The Pink Flamingo’s father had a CT scan in Las Cruces.  It involved the injection of a specific nuclear isotope.  None of this would mean very much except that, in order to get home, the route requires a stop at a major border patrol station on Hwy 70 near White Sands.

Several years ago my mother had a test involving nuclear medicine.  We were required to stop so she could fill out a form for the BP.  This time, though, before we even reached the check point, all the bells and whistles were going off.  When I stopped, I told one of the BP agents that my father had had his head examined.

I was asked to park so that papers could be filled out.  I don’t mind that in the least.  What could I do?  We were situated between two major military installations – White Sands Missile Range and Holloman AFB.  You don’t ask questions.

One of the BP agents brought a Geiger Counter out, to check the car.  You could hear it going off half way across the parking lot.  The agent was terribly polite, wanting to know if my father could get out of the car.  He did.  The moment he did, and they moved him to a certain spot, the car was cleared.

The problem – they could not identify the isotope!

We were required to wait until they emailed some nuclear physicist at Homeland Security to have the isotope identified.  I found the process fascinating.   It took maybe 15 minutes, then I gave them my phone number, license number, and that was about it.

I was left with several insights.  First – We have some way cool detection stuff – way way cool.  If some terrorist is trying to take a nuke up Hwy 70, they ain’t a gonna’ make it.  That is very reassuring.  The technology behind the detection equipment is fascinating.

Second – The BP agents were terribly polite and extremely professional. It’s too bad some of our day to day terror protection services can’t be turned over to them.

Third – If they an pick all this stuff up while a car is moving through a BP check point, why the hell do we need the TSA and their pat-downs?  This is abjectly stupid. Turn it over to the Border Patrol.

Now, coming from The Pink Flamingo, I know that is something of a rather revolutionary statement.  I’ve made no secret of my problems concerning the BP and illegal immigration.  But – if they are designed as a way to secure our borders, what the heck, let them do the TAS thing.

It think we would all be a lot happier.