Simulated dirty bomb dispersal device at Gowen Field in Boise

One of the most harrowing prospects faced by military and civilian public safety officials alike is the threat of assault by someone intent on spreading radioactive contamination in highly populated areas -- whether with a dirty bomb or some other type of dispersal device. Although the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says that at the levels created by most probable sources, not enough radiation would be present in a 'dirty' bomb or related device to kill people or cause severe illness, public fear and the possible need for costly cleanup make it an issue that demands attention and preparation.

In Idaho, the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory plays a key role in assuring proper preparation through the staging of specialized training for military and civilian first responders -- the teams called upon to initially assess and help stabilize an accident or extreme hazard scene. On Tuesday, June 15, 22 members of the 101st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, the first responders based at Gowen Field in Boise, will be on-site at the INEEL to participate in a highly realistic training scenario.

During this training exercise, participants will respond to an incident scene where there has been extensive simulated contamination from an individual using a mobile radioactive dispersal device. From dealing with the widespread contamination to providing critical, time-sensitive information to the incident commander concerning the extent of radiological hazards and identification of the material, Civil Support Team members will be pushed to the limits in the day-long scenario-based field exercise.

While this is a refresher course for the 101st WMD Civil Support Team, they will be able to test the adequacy of their standard operating procedures and practice their interfaces with the incident commander and other response agencies under a completely new exercise scenario.

The INEEL has previously hosted six Civil Support Teams for similar radiological training, hands-on practical exercises, and full-scale scenario-based field exercises. The INEEL also deploys a mobile training team to Civil Support Team home locations to provide the same training and field exercises. The lab has an agreement with Dugway Proving Grounds, Special Programs Division (Utah), to provide a radiological component to its highly recognized and acclaimed chemical and biological training. The INEEL's mobile training team has traveled to Dugway on several occasions to provide military and civilian teams with chemical, biological and radiological hazard response training in a "one-stop-shop" fashion.

The INEEL is a science-based, applied engineering national laboratory dedicated to supporting the U.S. Department of Energy's missions in energy, national security, science and environmental research. The INEEL is operated for the DOE by Bechtel BWXT Idaho, LLC.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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