NNSA and Maryland partner on radiological and nuclear security
The State of Maryland and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have signed an agreement that looks to strengthen efforts to prevent, mitigate and respond to radiological/nuclear threats and incidents in the state.
NNSA administrator Thomas D’Agostino and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that provides a strategic framework for areas of ongoing collaboration between NNSA and the state.
“This agreement represents the shared commitment of both NNSA and the State of Maryland to enhance domestic security and is part of NNSA’s broad strategy to keep dangerous nuclear and radiological material safe and secure and to protect the American people,” said D’Agostino in a joint statement with O’Malley. “The State of Maryland has shown outstanding leadership in this joint effort, and NNSA plans to build upon this successful cooperation with other states and cities throughout the U.S.”
“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to leverage the programs, resources, knowledge and experience of NNSA to assist Maryland’s first responders in preventing, detecting, or responding to a radiological incident,” said O’Malley. “This agreement expands NNSA’s and Maryland’s ongoing partnership in important areas including training, situational awareness and improving security.”
According to NNSA, since its Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and Maryland began working together three years ago, GTRI has secured 43 buildings housing nuclear and radiological material and removed more than 13,000 curies’ worth of radioactive sources for safe and secure storage.
The NNSA said there are thousands of civilian sites in the U.S. where nuclear and radiological materials are used for legitimate commercial, medical and research purposes. The materials, it said, are often found in open environments, like hospitals and universities that often lack armed guards and are vulnerable to theft. A radiological dispersal device, or dirty bomb, detonated with radiological material found in use in hospitals or other civilian facilities could result in radioactive contamination that requires relocation, prohibits the use of that area pending cleanup, and causes economic impacts in the billions of dollars, it said.
NNSA through, GTRI, and in cooperation with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), installs voluntary security upgrades at civilian sites to reduce the potential for theft or misuse of radiological materials. The upgrades are in addition to security enhancements required by the NRC and state governments since 2006, said the agency. GTRI’s security upgrades are federally-funded, cost-effective and prudent best practices that improve security beyond regulatory requirements, it said.
In addition to securing materials at the source, NNSA said it is partnering with Maryland state and local law enforcement and emergency management professionals to enhance radiological and nuclear emergency preparedness and response capabilities. In this regard, NNSA said it was committed to providing Maryland with radiation medical training and improvements to its radiological incident emergency response plans, as well as making NNSA’s assets and technical expertise available to Maryland in the event of a radiological/nuclear incident.
In the past few years alone, NNSA said it has provided radiological/nuclear emergency training to Maryland Army National Guard’s 32nd and 33rd Civil Support Teams, participated in an exercise at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and operationally supported events such as the Joint Base Andrews Air Show, Baltimore Grand Prix IndyCar Series, Baltimore sporting events and the Tall Ships 1812 celebration. NNSA is also planning to support the state’s next NPP exercise in 2015.