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Radiological Sites in Hawaii Complete NNSA Security Enhancements

HONOLULU – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today recognized the state of Hawaii and the city and county of Honolulu for completing security enhancements on all high priority radiological materials. The voluntary enhancements came with the assistance of NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and further improve radiological material security across Hawaii to prevent the material from being lost or stolen. The enhancements also dramatically increase radiological security prior to the Asia Pacific Economic (APEC) Summit that will draw world leaders to Hawaii in November 2011.

“This momentous achievement has helped make our country more secure from the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Securing vulnerable radiological material is a vital part of implementing President Obama’s nuclear security agenda,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “I want to thank the state of Hawaii and local officials for their continued support in making our country a safer place for all who live and visit here. Hawaii is the first state that has completed the full range of NNSA/GTRI security enhancement offerings and can serve as a model for other states to follow.”
NNSA’s cooperation with Hawaii began in April 2007 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hawaii was the first state to volunteer for GTRI’s domestic radiological voluntary security enhancements. In addition to completing radiological material security enhancements on all high priority civilian radiological materials, all alarms and video surveillance were integrated with multiple off-site response locations. A tabletop exercise in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other partners was also conducted and Hawaii officials participated in the Alarm Response Training in Oak Ridge, Tenn. This enabled the integration of response by state and county officials. 

“The completion of the security enhancements coincides with the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic (APEC) Summit that will be held in Hawaii in November 2011,” said Melvin Kaku, Director of the Department of Emergency Management for the city and county of Honolulu. “President Obama and leaders and representatives from 20 other countries will participate in this event. It was important to have the radiological sources in Hawaii secured under tight enhancement measures.”

Shawn Gallagher, Director for Nuclear Threat Reduction and Nuclear Energy Cooperation at the National Security Council said, “Protecting our homeland is a critical part of worldwide nuclear threat reduction and we take the security of our radioactive materials very seriously. I would like to recognize the importance of this achievement in the context of our global nuclear threat reduction efforts.”

“The collaborative efforts undertaken by NNSA, other federal agencies, and state and local governments have effectively enhanced the security of radiological materials in Hawaii. I am very pleased that Hawaii is safer and now serves as a model for improved security across the nation,” said Sen. Daniel K. Akaka. “We must continue to better secure radiological materials both at home and abroad in order to safeguard human life, health, and economy.”

NNSA’s Y-12 National Security Complex provided radiological security alarm response training to Hawaii and Honolulu city and county first responders and other officials, as well as to officials at facilities which were upgraded. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Yamasato, Fujiwara, Higa & Associates, Inc. (YFH), a local Honolulu company, worked with Hawaii to implement the security enhancements, and Sandia National Laboratories installed retro-fit plates on the irradiators which greatly increase the time required to remove the radiological sources.

In partnership with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Homeland Security, NNSA continues to install voluntary security upgrades at civilian sites in the United States to reduce the potential for theft or misuse of radiological materials that could be used in a dirty bomb. These voluntary upgrades are in addition to security enhancements required by the NRC and state governments since 2006.

NNSA’s GTRI has partnered with more than 100 countries to strengthen security at nuclear and radiological facilities; convert highly enriched uranium fueled research reactors to low enriched uranium fuel; and recover excess and/or vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials. GTRI strives to set a positive example in the United States to build cooperation and consensus internationally on these important security issues.

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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 in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the 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.