Skip to main content

Responding to Emergencies

emergency response logoNNSA serves as the premier technical leader in responding to and successfully resolving nuclear and radiological threats worldwide.  When the need arises, NNSA is prepared to respond immediately to any type of nuclear or radiological accident or incident.

Part of NNSA's mission is to protect the public, environment, and emergency responders from both terrorist and non-terrorist events by providing a responsive, flexible, efficient, and effective radiological emergency response framework and capability for the nation.  This mission is accomplished by applying NNSA’s unique technical expertise residing within the Department of Energy's national laboratories.

NNSA's core competencies include concrete knowledge of U.S. nuclear weapons, radiological dispersal devices, improvised nuclear devices, and specific specialties in spectroscopy, device modeling, radiography, and device assessment technology.  Additional core competencies include attribution, weapon effects, technical evaluation of consequence management radiological data, medical care, and advice for individuals exposed to ionizing radiation.

Our emergency response efforts include:

NNSA also has a variety of emergency response assets.  These assets encompass four core competencies: core knowledge of U.S. nuclear weapons, “dirty bombs” and crude nuclear devices; core knowledge of use and interpretation of specialized radiation detection equipment; core technical operations; and core technical support requirements. The assets are:

  • Aerial Measuring System (AMS) – AMS characterizes ground-deposited radiation from aerial platforms.  These platforms include fixed wing and rotary wing aircrafts with radiological measuring equipment, computer analysis of aerial measurements, and equipment to locate lost radioactive sources, conduct aerial surveys, or map large areas of contamination.
  • Accident Response Group (ARG) – The ARG response element is comprised of scientists, technical specialists, crisis managers, and equipment ready for short-notice dispatch to the scene of a U.S. nuclear weapon accident.
  • National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) – NARAC is a computer-based emergency preparedness and response predictive capability.  NARAC provides real-time computer predictions of the atmospheric transport of material from radioactive release.
  • Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center (FRMAC) – FRMAC is an interagency entity that coordinates federal offsite radiological monitoring and assessment activities for nuclear accidents or incidents.  FRMAC is responsible for providing a single source of compiled, quality controlled monitoring and assessment data to the lead federal agency involved in the incident response.
  • Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) – RAP provides advice and radiological assistance for incidents involving radioactive materials that pose a threat to the public heath and safety or the environment.  RAP can provide field deployable teams of heath physics professionals equipped to conduct radiological search, monitoring, and assessment activities.
  • Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) – REAC/TS provides medical advice, specialized training, and onsite assistance for the treatment of all types of radiation exposure accidents.
  • Nuclear Emergency Support Team (NEST) – NEST provides technical assistance to a lead federal agency to deal with incidents, including terrorist threats, which involve the use of nuclear materials.  NEST has been structured to address threats by domestic and foreign terrorists that may have the will and means to employ weapons of mass destruction.  NEST would assist in the identification, characterization, rendering safe, and final disposition of any nuclear weapon or radioactive device.