WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently conducted an International Radiological Assistance Program Training for Emergency Response (I-RAPTER) course for 16 representatives from ten countries including Armenia, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
The course, held in Las Vegas, Nev., focused specifically on response procedures for port and customs offices involved in detecting nuclear and radiological material encountered during routine inspection of cargo. The participants received classroom instruction on international response criteria and radiation safety, radiation detection, alarm adjudication and response/recovery. The course included field exercises designed to provide hands-on training using radiation detection technology to localize radiation hotspots, measure dose rates and identify the radioactive material.
“NNSA and the IAEA continue to be committed to helping prepare port and customs offices around the world to respond to radiation emergencies,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations Joseph Krol. “NNSA’s technical expertise supported this joint training to ensure that more first responders have the capability to locate, characterize, identify and control nuclear and radioactive material.”
The training was conducted by personnel from the IAEA; NNSA; NSTec’s Remote Sensing Laboratory located at Joint Base Andrews, Md., and Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.
Participants were informed about capabilities, including the IAEA Response and Assistance Network (RANET) and DOE Radiological Triage for technical analysis. Highlights of the training course included the use of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium in the field exercises, and a guided tour of the Nevada National Security Site.
One of NNSA’s primary missions is to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without the use of underground nuclear testing. In addition, NNSA provides the United States government’s primary capability for radiological and nuclear emergency response and for providing security to the nation from the threat of nuclear terrorism. With this expertise, NNSA provides nuclear emergency response support to local law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and emergency responders in other countries.
NNSA currently collaborates with more than 80 foreign governments and 10 international organizations, with projects ranging from providing assistance in improving emergency preparedness and response programs, to joint collaborative activities to improve emergency management infrastructure worldwide.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.