Low-flying helicopter to measure Las Vegas Strip radiation levels


(Photo credit: Dept. of Energy, NNSA)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — You might notice a low-flying helicopter over the Las Vegas Strip prior to the New Year’s Eve celebration.

The National Nuclear Security Administration will be measuring radiation levels on Tuesday, Dec. 29 to gather a baseline so spikes in radiation levels can later be detected. The helicopter will then take readings again on New Year’s Eve to determine if there have been any changes signaling a possible hazardous situation.

According to NNSA’s Nuclear Emergency Support Team, the flights are done to protect public health and safety ahead of major public events, including presidential inaugurations and Super Bowls.

The twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, which is based at Nellis Air Force Base, is equipped with state-of-the-art passive radiation sensing technology and will fly in a grid pattern and will fly over the areas at 150 feet of higher at a speed of around 80 mph.

NNSA is making the public aware of the upcoming flights so citizens who see the low-flying aircraft are not alarmed.

The NEST survey vehicle, based at Nellis Air Force Base, is operated by personnel from the Nevada National Security Site’s Remote Sensing Laboratory. NEST is part of NNSA’s Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation Program and is an element of the Nation’s nuclear or radiological emergency response capability.

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