Are Living Things Shipped In Containers? And If Not . . . (My Anti-Terror Plan)

Are animals ever shipped in shipping containers?

Clinton was criticizing Bush last night for not taxing the “super-rich” $5k per year for security systems that would scan incoming cargo containers for contraband and terrorists. Lots of attention has been paid to the concept of terrorists sneaking in through these scantily-inspected containers.

Okay, if al Q. has a suitcase nuclear bomb or anthrax disperser or something that could be loaded into a container, that’s a problem.

But if the concern is little terrorist buggers smuggling themselves along with their payload (and there seems to be some precedent for this being feasible), wouldn’t a cheap and easy way to prevent against this just be to irradiate the containers with lethal doses of X-rays? Sure, the guy might figure out that he was dying (if it took long enough) and trigger his doomsday device, but the same is eminently true of any inspection protocol predicated on detecting and then extracting him alive. I suspect that the detection part of the equation is mostly likely to be expensive, and can’t be omitted as we need to detect non-living payloads too, but how large a dose of radiation would it take to pretty quickly kill a person hiding in a container, and would such a dose have ill effects on container and its inert contents?

Aside from the problem of, well, putting people to death without trial, there are also people with no particularly evil intentions who attempt to enter the country this way. If the U.S. started killing illegal immigrants indiscriminately in this way, I would hope there would be some hue and cry about it (at home and abroad.)

And even nonliving cargoes could be harmed this way. At the extreme example, consider photographic film. Running it through the airport scanner won’t ruin it unless it’s very high speed (it will cause some fogging, even then), but you’re proposing something far more powerful.

Also, what you want is not just a lethal dosage, but a quickly lethal dosage. The typical way in which radiation kills is by causing cancer, but that can take years to develop. In order to quickly kill by radiation, you basically have to cook your target. And there are plenty of nonliving cargoes which would be ruined by cooking.

Not by cooking in the conventional sense. A dose that would be lethal in a minute would raise a person’s temperature on the order of a degree. Foods such as strawberries are routinely irradiated to lethal human doses without harm to the fruit. The damage to sensitive electronics may be significant though.

Sprague Dawley rats, 125-150 grams, get shipped in cardboard flats with screened airholes, coarse sawdust bedding, and a chunk of raw potato for the little guys dining pleasure.

Any idea how powerful an X-ray emitter would need to be to be able to pass through a metal shipping container and 4 feet of metal good inside. After all an illegal immigrant who knows about this won’t be just sitting against the wall.

I think any x-ray emitter that could manage this job would require enough power to run a large city.

Don’t they already spray the crap out of incoming agricultural products with insecticide? I heard via a FOAF that they have to broadcast “Get out now or die!” in a bunch of languages to prevent illegal immigrants from dying from it - is that true or not?

Sounds like a budget airline. Only, of course, you’d have to pay extra for the potato.

Actually he said:

He didn’t say anything about terrorists stowing away on containers.

In any case, what if the terrorists were protected by lead shielding? It’d be extremely difficult to kill someone behind 1/2 inch of lead without harming the operator. It would be easier to look into a container, e.g. with a backscatter X-ray imager. You still can’t penetrate a thick shield, but at least you would see there is a shield.

<I>Don’t they already spray the crap out of incoming agricultural products with insecticide?</I>

Many are fumigated, which means the conatihers are filed with a poison gas. Not insecticides, just general biocides.