The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday said it has added Chicago to its urban area nuclear security program and provided the city with $3.5 million to begin planning and analysis.

All told, Chicago will receive up to $30 million over five years under the Security the Cities program, which was originally launched in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan region as a pilot program in 2006 and now includes the Los Angeles/Long Beach region, the greater Washington, D.C., area, and Houston.

Chicago skyline seen from Lake Michigan.
Chicago skyline seen from Lake Michigan.

DHS said it continues to plan to expand the Securing the Cities Program to additional major metropolitan areas in the coming years. At full implementation the program will safeguard nearly 100 million people in the country from nuclear and radiological threats. Excluding Chicago, the program currently covers nearly 52 million people, according to department budget documents.

Under the Securing the Cities program, the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) works with state and local stakeholders to build regional capabilities to detect, analyze, and report nuclear and other radioactive materials.

Work in Chicago will begin before the end of this summer, DHS said. Future funding for the city will allow DNDO to work with stakeholders to build a regional nuclear detection capability for law enforcement and personnel.

Funding provided to the city will also help with the procurement of technology to detect and identify nuclear and radiological materials. It will also be used to help with training and exercises to further nuclear detection capabilities and to coordinate with federal partners.

DHS said that once it has completed its funding wards to Chicago for Securing the Cities DNDO will continue to provide subject matter expertise for training, exercises, and technical support to ensure the region maintains detection capability.

The Obama administration is requesting nearly $22 million for Securing the Cities in FY ’17. Senate appropriators are recommending $22 million for the program, $289,000 more than requested, and House appropriators have proposed $21.1 million.