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NNSA Participates in Russian Nuclear Emergency Response Exercise

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Office of Emergency Operations recently participated in the Arctic-2012 emergency response exercise in Russia at the Sayda-Bay branch of the Northwest Center on Radioactive Waste Management.

This was the latest in a series of radiological emergency response exercises carried out by the Russian Federation and the U.S. under the auspices of a 1994 agreement between the two governments.

“This exercise provided an excellent opportunity for local, regional and national governmental organizations to practice response actions, mutual assistance and verify notification procedures,” said Joseph J. Krol, Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations, who was part of the observation team. “We are pleased to be able to continue to share NNSA’s expertise in emergency operations and learn from our international partners. The exercise also complements NNSA’s commitment to working with the international community while delivering on President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.”

The exercise was conducted under the auspices of the Joint Coordinating Committee for Radiation Effects Research, a bilateral government group representing agencies from the U.S. and the Russian Federation tasked with collaborating on emergency management issues and coordinating scientific research on the health effects of exposure to ionizing radiation in the Russian Federation from the production of nuclear weapons.

The Sayda-Bay facility includes a temporary storage pad for decommissioned submarine reactor compartments. Under the exercise scenario, an aircraft crashes into the pad, resulting in a fire, the loss of integrity to one of the stored reactor compartments, and the release of radioactive materials to the atmosphere.

The resultant reaction to this emergency scenario involved both on-site and off-site response personnel, including participation by the Russian Federation’s Nuclear Energy State Corporation (ROSATOM), the Ministry for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief (EMERCOM), and Murmansk Oblast authorities. Both fire extinguishing and radiation dose rate measurement actions were demonstrated, as well as monitoring for contamination outside of the facility and the preparation of a detailed plan to decontaminate the Sayda-Bay facility. Core issues of emergency response, including response team safety, notification, and communication were demonstrated throughout the exercise.

International observers included representatives from Finland, Norway, the U.S. and France.

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.

For more information on NNSA’s Office of Emergency Operations, click here.

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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, 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.