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NNSA Receives Excellence Award for Radiological Security Enhancements in Hawaii

HONOLULU – At an official event this week, the City and County of Honolulu presented the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with the Homeland Security Excellence Award for DOE/NNSA’s Office of Radiological Security’s (ORS) efforts to enhance the security of radioactive materials in the State of Hawaii. The award recognizes DOE/NNSA and Hawaii’s partnership to improve radiological material security across Hawaii in order to prevent the materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive this Excellence Award and to acknowledge the remarkable partnership we have had with the City and County of Honolulu to reduce the risk of radiological terrorism,” said Anne Harrington, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “I want to thank Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu’s mayor, for recognizing the importance of our joint work as well as the local officials of the State of Hawaii for their commitment to the safety and security of our country. Hawaii has been at the forefront of U.S. efforts to enhance radiological security, and serves as a model for the rest of the country.”

DOE/NNSA began its cooperation with Hawaii in April 2007 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hawaii was the first U.S. state to partner with ORS to complete radiological security enhancements and to integrate alarms and video surveillance with multiple off-site response locations. Hawaii and DOE/NNSA conducted two tabletop exercises in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Hawaiian officials also participated in Alarm Response Training in at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This training promotes integrated response by State and County officials. ORS is collaborating with Honolulu to implement customized alarm response training, which will allow local response forces to develop and implement this training locally.  

“Initiated by former Hawaii Sen. Dan Akaka in 2006 and supported by our entire congressional delegation, the City and County of Honolulu has become the first municipality in the country to implement radiological safeguards through the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Office of Radiological Security (ORS),” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “This is an important, critical step that provides local law enforcement the tools that are necessary to keep hazardous materials out of the hands of those who would use them for destructive purposes. We must always remain vigilant, and the ORS program is a critical step in doing so.”

“By enhancing the security of Hawaii’s radiological materials, we not only keep our state safe, but also ensure these materials support the needs of our healthcare system and our agriculture industry,” said Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I was proud to present the Office of Radiological Security with the Homeland Security Excellence Award, and hope that the collaboration between the Office of Radiological Security and City and County of Honolulu will continue to serve as a successful example for other states and communities across the United States.”

In partnership with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Homeland Security, DOE/NNSA’s Office of Radiological Security installs security upgrades at civilian sites in the United States in order to prevent actors from using high-activity sources in acts of terrorism. These voluntary upgrades are in addition to security enhancements required by the NRC and state governments.

“Sen. Akaka was instrumental in shedding light on the vulnerabilities of domestic radiological materials, and his work with NNSA and partners at every level of government to initiate the first counterterrorism exercise pilot program in Hawaii has made our state a model for similar programs across the country,” added Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “The threat of radiological terrorism is a constantly evolving and ever-growing threat, and we must continue to build off the progress we’ve made over the past decade to keep our radiological materials secure. Mahalo nui loa to Senator Akaka, to Director Barlow and the NNSA, and to our federal, state, and local partners who are continuously working to enhance the security of Hawaii’s radiological materials, improve our ability to respond to radiological security threats, and strengthen the safety and security of the people of Hawaii.”

DOE/NNSA has partnered with more than 80 countries to protect radioactive sources used for vital medical, research, and commercial purposes; remove and dispose of disused radioactive sources; and reduce the global reliance on high activity radioactive sources by promoting the adoption and development of non-radioactive source-based alternative technologies. DOE/NNSA has partnered with more than 700 sites in the United States to enhance radiological security and has completed security enhancements at more than 1,900 buildings worldwide.

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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. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness 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.  Visit for more information.