Low-flying helicopters to measure radiation levels in DC before inauguration | TheHill – The Hill

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Low-flying helicopters will be seen over downtown Washington, D.C., and the National Mall beginning on Monday to assess radiation levels in the city before the presidential inauguration onJan. 20.

The Department of Energys National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)said in a statementthat it will be conducting the flights to measure naturally occurring background radiation as part of standard preparations to protect public health and safety on the day of the event.

The flights will only occur during daylight hours in a grid pattern 150 feet above the ground at a speed of approximately 80 mph.

NNSA said in its release that the flights are purely scientific in nature and no surveillance will be conducted. It urged citizens not to become alarmed at the sight of the low-flying aircraft.

Similar flights often take place prior to newsworthy events that gather large crowds, includingover Atlanta before the 2019 Super Bowlandover Charlotte, N.C., in Augustprior to the Republican National Convention.

The twin-engine Bell 413 helicopter is part of the NNSAs Nuclear Emergency Support Team and will be equipped with sensitive, state-of-the-art passive radiation sensing technology, according to a statement.

The NNSAs Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation Program works to prevent and respond to a terrorist or other adversary actor with a nuclear or radiological device, according to the agencys website. The program is designed torespond to stolen or misplaced radioactive materials, a nuclear weapon out of the control of a nation-state or an improvised nuclear device.

The 2021 presidential inaugurationis expected to see dramatically reduced crowds due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Sen.Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntPower players play chess match on COVID-19 aid GOP to Trump: Focus on policy Low-flying helicopters to measure radiation levels in DC before inauguration MORE(R-Mo.), who chairs a bicameral panel tasked with planning the 59th inaugural ceremony,predicted that the January event wouldlikely include some social distancing measures.

The District currently has some coronavirus restrictions in place, including a ban on mass gatherings of more than 50 people and quarantine requirements for travelers from some states.

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Low-flying helicopters to measure radiation levels in DC before inauguration | TheHill - The Hill

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