Despite the impotence of a dirty bomb, there have been at least 24 documented dirty bomb drills and exercises dealing with radiation exposure, radiation containment and radiation clean-up. These elaborate drills, which have simulated dirty bomb attacks on planes, auto shows, race car tracks, sports facilities and universities, have systematically programmed local, state and federal officials for impending dirty bomb terror. Adding credence to the dirty bomb threat are at least 5 dirty bomb plots which have been conveniently exposed by Western governments since 9/11.
Date: November 12, 2002
Source: Harvard Crimson
Abstract: A dirty bomb exploded at Logan Airport last week and emergency personnel rushed to the scene and transported victims to local hospitals to be treated for radiation exposure.
This simulation drill was enacted throughout Boston to test emergency response procedures in the event of the detonation of a dirty bomb, a device that contains radioactive material that is released into the air upon explosion.
“September 11th was an indication to us,” said Jeff D. Ventura, spokesperson for Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “What if, instead of New York, it happened here? How prepared are we to handle disaster on a large scale?”
The drill, dubbed Operation Prometheus, began at Logan Airport on Thursday with the simulated explosion of a dirty bomb on an inbound United Airlines flight from France, and continued on Friday when 10 hospitals in the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals received victims coming in for treatment.
The main objective of the drill was to facilitate communication and cooperation among all emergency response agencies involved.
Over 50 agencies participated in the drill, including the Massachusetts National Guard, FBI, American Red Cross, United States Coast Guard and Harvard School of Public Health.
Girl Scout troops, schoolchildren and Harvard Medical School students joined in on the effort, as well.
“With all the federal, state and local agencies, it was alphabet soup,” said Stephen Morash, Boston Emergency Management Agency deputy director. “The immenseness of this exercise is something you wouldn’t see before in this city.”
Prior to the drill, all the agencies gathered in a conference hall to perform a tabletop exercise, in which they ran through a fake dirty bomb scenario so that all involved could communicate and ask questions, according to Ventura.
At 8:15 on Friday morning, the teaching hospitals were notified of the dirty bomb explosion. Their role in the drill was to assess the procedures in place for diagnosing and treating contaminated patients.
Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center were the three Harvard teaching hospitals involved in the functional part of the drill—testing hospital care—said Sarah J. Hamilton, director of area planning and development for the Medical Academic and Scientific Community Organization (MASCO).
“We executed a code amber, like a code blue on television,” Ventura said. “The hospital is locked down, we go into emergency response mode, and prepare for incoming casualties.”
Nonessential appointments are canceled and patients are relocated to other parts of the hospital to free bed space.
Twelve radioactive passengers were assigned symptoms, accepted for treatment, decontaminated and then evaluated, said Jean M. Hickey, head nurse in the Brigham and Women’s emergency department.
Harvard Medical School students volunteered to act as victims and wore tattered clothes to act their parts convincingly.
Brigham and Women’s also received 60 “worried but well” patients, who were not on the aircraft but feared exposure to the radiation.
In addition to treating the victims of the explosion, the hospitals also had to send all the evidence they discovered on to law enforcement agencies, Hamilton said.
“It’s a crime investigation as well,” she said. “It was also a test to see whether we could get patient information back to the airlines, find out where passengers went and confirm the status of victims.”
Because the airlines would be fielding phone calls from worried family members, it is vital that this patient information be relayed back to them.
Drills like these are done regularly in Boston, but this is the first time radioactive scenarios have been involved.
“All of this is relatively new to the hospital, and we felt like we did well,” Hickey said.
Morash agreed that the drill was a success but said improvements will need to be made in order to improve the efficiency of the response to radiation emergencies.
Two issues that will be addressed are protection of hospital employees from radiation and the handling, storage and transport of radioactive material or clothing.
“We need to do more with radioactive activities. You can’t see it, feel it or touch it, but we have to be wary of it,” Morash said.
A debriefing of all parties involved will be held in two weeks in order to critique the drill.
Medical students and hospital staff were not the only Harvard affiliates to help out with the simulation.
Stephen O’Connor, a Harvard University Police Department officer stationed at the Longwood Medical Campus, volunteered at MASCO’s Joint Operating Center, which is a central command unit that runs during emergencies.
“It was good to see that the organization went well, and how different services in the Longwood area came together for a common cause,” he said (Harvard Crimson, 2002).
Date: June 11, 2003
Source: Associated Press
Abstract: With some experts warning that a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction is inevitable, public safety personnel around the nation's capital are stepping up their training.
Hundreds of them from four Maryland counties, as well as rescue experts from Fairfax County, Va., came together Tuesday for a drill simulating a dirty bomb attack at a crowded auto show. The drill was conducted at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, Md., about 35 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. Fire departments throughout the Washington area are now treating any unusual explosion as though it might be a dirty bomb containing toxic chemicals or radiological components. The drill was designed to help responders hone the skills they would use if such a weapon is ever used.
"It's important that we train for these types of events because with the threat level swinging back and forth something like this could happen at any time," said Montgomery Fire Chief Tom W. Carr. The drill began with the release of a presumably toxic cloud, followed by two subsequent explosions which sparked fires. Civilians made up to appear as thought they had suffered from blast and burn injuries could be seen laying on the ground in a field behind a shopping center. Adding to the drama was a very real - and unexpected - car fire.
Evaluators from federal, state and local public safety agencies and military agencies walked amid the feigned chaos, observing the performance of those involved. Montgomery County Police also mobilized some officers to respond to ongoing threats included in the scenario.
"An anonymous caller called our 911 center and said there would be another attack while this was going on," police spokesman Capt. John M. Fitzgerald said of the drill, which was monitored by jurisdictions from throughout the region. "This type of attack would undoubtedly prompt a "Code Red" alert throughout the region and perhaps nationally," Fitzgerald
The drill is the latest in a series of exercises being held across the nation. The District of Columbia government is planning
a similar exercise this summer. "These drills remind us that things can get very bad, very quickly, they keep us from getting complacent," said Cpl. Rob Moroney, a spokesman for the Maryland State Police (Associated Press, 2003).
Title: Drill Will Test Homeland Security Readiness In Boston
Date: August 30, 2006
Source: Security Info Watch
Abstract: Less than a week after the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, one of the largest antiterror drills ever in New England will test how public safety officials deal with some of their worst fears all at the same time.
The nightmare scenario starts with an explosion in a basement lab in Everett, jumps to a threat to the liquefied natural gas facility in Everett, and mushrooms to multiple explosions, one involving a radioactive "dirty bomb," inside the CambridgeSide Galleria mall, according to a memo obtained by the Globe yesterday.
Finally, as patrons flee the mall, at least one improvised explosive device is found at the nearby Lechmere MBTA station, according to the memo outlining Operation Poseidon, scheduled for the morning of Sunday, Sept. 17.
The drill, which will soon be announced to minimize public alarm, ends with a fictional 25 dead and 150 wounded.
Law enforcement officers, firefighters, and paramedics will re spond to each incident. An undetermined number of people will pretend to be customers at the mall, riders on the T, and possible terrorists.
Sponsored by the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino's Office of Homeland Security, the exercise is designed to bring together federal, state, and local agencies, as well as hospitals and the National Guard, to coordinate and improve how they respond, communicate, and work together to tackle the fast-moving series of threats.
"It's really the best way to make sure everyone is working well together," said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
Law enforcement, military, federal, and emergency medical workers, as well as firefighters, will be tested on their response to a bombing in which there could be secondary devices in multiple locations and how they "identify potential suspects who may continue to linger in the area following an initial blast," the memo said.
Officials at the CambridgeSide Galleria said the exercise is scheduled to start around 4 a.m., well before the mall opens that day at 11 a.m. In addition, the mall's neighbors have been notified by the Cambridge Fire Department.
The last high-profile terrorism training event in Boston happened in June 2005 with the simulation of a terrorist hijacking of an airliner en route from Paris to Chicago, the first US drill involving the real-time intercept of a commercial airliner by military jets.
More than 50 federal, state, and local agencies participated in the $750,000 exercise, paid for by a federal homeland security grant. More than 80 volunteers, posing as hostages, spent two hours in the air. Once F-15 fighter jets forced the United Airlines plane to land at Logan International Airport, the hijackers detonated a "bomb" in the plane's cargo hold, "killed" a 14-year-old girl, and threw a dummy representing her body from the rear door. Police stormed the plane and arrested five terrorists, and the "injured" were sent to at least nine area hospitals.
Next month's exercise, also paid for by grants from the federal government, is expected to cost much more, with 81 state troopers being paid $78,000 in wages alone, said Andrew Plunkett, spokesman for the Executive Office of Public Safety.
State and city officials yesterday could not provide a total price tag or number of participants.
The exercise combines a threat to an LNG facility one of the Boston region's biggest vulnerabilities with a kind of attack that some homeland security specialists fear will be the next level of terrorism, based on events that have happened elsewhere.
The scenario begins when Everett police respond to a call from a citizen regarding suspicious activity at a home, possibly drug-related.
But as police close in on the home, a van with several men inside is seen leaving the area. This is followed by an explosion in the basement of the home, where police quickly find a laboratory.
Police find evidence suggesting that the Distrigas facility and an LNG tanker in Everett have been targeted by terrorists. The Mystic River becomes the focal point, and the Coast Guard secures the LNG terminal and tanker.
After Sept. 11, 2001, LNG facilities were identified as potential terrorist targets. Last week, Governor Mitt Romney ordered a review of security at LNG storage facilities statewide after intruders broke into a KeySpan storage facility in Lynn.
Julie Vitek, a spokeswoman for Distrigas, said the company conducts at least one safety or security drill a month at the Everett facility.
"LNG is as safe, if not safer, to transport and store than other fuels that come into Boston Harbor and other ports every day," she said yesterday. "However, our company has always had a deep commitment to safety and security. And we have worked closely with local, state, and federal officials regarding both our day-to-day operations and safety and security drills."
As the exercise continues and "as activity and anxiety surrounding the discovery in Everett generate more interest and involvement," there are two explosions at the CambridgeSide Galleria. One blast is in the crowded food court, followed by another near a central escalator. The scenario says that one of these bombs will be a "dirty" bomb with a radiological source that could contaminate the surrounding area.
Responding officers will tend to the wounded and also be reviewed on their ability to identify any suspects.
Former federal antiterrorism official Richard A. Clarke and others say that low-tech terrorist attacks on shopping centers, amusement parks, and other public places could devastate the US economy and change society.
Finally, according to the exercise, at least one device will be found at the Lechmere Station on or near the platform, instead of inside a bus or rail car.
Officers will be judged on how quickly they evacuate the area and isolate the device.
After the exercise, all the responding agencies will be evaluated and given feedback.
Poseidon is an important test of our region's interoperable communications,
emergency operations, and response capacity," Jennifer Mehigan, a
spokeswoman for Menino, said in a statement (Security Info Watch, 2006).
Date: October 16, 2007
Source: KATU News
Abstract: A loud explosion, crumpled buses and cars and dozens of victims lying on the ground with authentic-looking injuries lent an air of reality to a major terrorism exercise that took place Tuesday at the Portland International Raceway, and at locations across Portland.
Compounding the realism was a cold, steady rain that made the ground slick and tested sensitive electronics equipment.
The city of Phoenix, Ariz., and the island of Guam are also taking part. The largest part of the drill, called TOPOFF 4, is taking place in Portland.
The small explosion Tuesday took place on a "set" at Portland International Raceway near a wrecked bus and other damaged vehicles. The set is designed to be a substitute for the Steel Bridge in Portland.
About 200 local residents acting as victims were then led to the explosion site. Emergency workers then commenced rescue operations.
During the drill, participants exposed to fake radioactive material were sent to OHSU and Legacy Emanuel for sorting and decontamination procedures. Many wore shirts soaked with fake blood and had stage makeup simulating burns or other injuries.
"There are many, many smaller scenarios that we don't know that are being injected in, to test out many parts of the system," Bob Porter, a Red Cross volunteer, told KATU News. Dozens of Red Cross workers are among the teams working during the dirty bomb drill.
Drew Starks played the part of a burn victim and is an emergency medical technician in real life. He said the scope and execution of the drill brings needed experience to emergency responders who may have only read about the procedures in an instruction book.
People in the area can suffer from immediate radiation poisoning or the long-term effects of radiation exposure, including cancer.
Although dirty bombs do not explode with the force of an atomic bomb, terrorism experts believe modern terror groups may try to use them in American cities or elsewhere because they are easier to assemble and do not require the specific radioactive elements used in atomic weapons.
The purpose of the drill is to test the emergency response systems in the participating cities, along with medical response and the coordination of local and federal communication systems and officials. The drill also helps responders be prepared for other situations such as earthquakes, major storms or other natural and man-made disasters.
Funding for the drill was paid for by money already earmarked in Oregon's budget and $2.5 million in federal funds.
Drill officials said the TOPOFF exercises originated not with the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks but with the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway that killed a dozen people and injured nearly 1,000 others.
That attack was blamed on the Japanese religious group Aum Shinrikyo and did not involve al-Qaida or a group currently regarded as a terror risk by the United States.
"TOPOFF 4" stands for "Top Officials," and the current drill is the fourth exercise. The drill concludes on Friday (KATU News, 2007).
Title: "Dirty Bomb" Drills Held In New York, New Hampshire
Date: April 28, 2008
Source: Nuclear Threat Initiative
Abstract: Emergency responders in New Hampshire and New York last week conducted exercises involving mock "dirty bomb" threats.
The Suffolk County, N.Y., drill involved the detonation of a radiological weapon by members of a biker gang retaliating for the arrest of their leaders. The exercise ran from Thursday to Saturday and involved 10 hospitals and 600 personnel from 60 agencies, the Associated Press reported. The $175,000 federally funded event was the largest of its kind on Long Island.
Police investigated the attack that killed and injured 100 people at a federal courthouse while fire, medical and other agencies handled decontamination, radiation exposure detection and emergency coordination.
"Everything came off very well," said drill organizer Richard Stockinger, deputy director of the Suffolk County Fire Academy. "We met all of our objectives."
There were some problems with radio communications due to the different frequencies used by some agencies, he said.
Emergency agencies need additional training in some areas involving the response to radioactive materials, Stockinger said. Additional decontamination equipment is also a necessity for many departments, he said.
Meanwhile, authorities managed to prevent a fake attack Friday in Raymond, N.N., the Manchester Union Leader reported.
The exercise involved local police officers and firefighters, state bomb squad members, and a National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team.
The exercise called for a Raymond police officer to be "overcome" by a gas inside a vacant building. Investigators used technology inside a "mobile lab" to determine that the gas was not one of various biological or chemical agents. The National Guard team was ultimately able to determine that the site was being used as a radioactive weapons laboratory.
Responders placed fake cesium inside a special container to end the threat.
"Your local fire and police departments do an excellent job, but in situations where they find evidence of terrorism, or a clandestine lab, we'll be there to work alongside them with specialized tools," said National Guard Maj. Eric Fessenden (Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2008).
Title: Dirty Bomb Exercise Tests West Virginia's Emergency Services
Date: June 18, 2008
Source: West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Abstract: The scenario: A dirty bomb falls somewhere in the Washington D.C. area. Thousands of people evacuate to West Virginia. The state Homeland Security Department staged a major exercise yesterday to test whether West Virginia can handle such a scenario.
In Berkeley County, the local Homeland Security and Emergency Services Department set up a decontamination station on a strip of land between the county’s hospital and Interstate 81.
Shortly after 11 a.m. a West Virginia Emergency Response Team semi truck and trailer pulled up. Members from local fire and emergency services departments worked with members of the National Guard to empty the truck and erect tents where evacuees were decontaminated.
State Military Affairs and Public Safety Deputy Director Christy Morris was on hand to observe. Morris says there are several benefits to conducting this exercise:
“We haven’t had a complete statewide emergency in several years so this is a great opportunity to test phone numbers, to test names of people, make sure they’re still in their same jobs, and reacquaint themselves with each other in emergencies,” Morris says.
Local ham radio operators were also on hand to participate. Jay Tabor is Vice President of the Opequon Radio Society. Tabor says members were stationed here as well as at the county office of emergency services, the hospital and other key places:
“And this is exactly how we would distribute ourselves in a time of disaster,” Tabor says. We would go the key critical points and provide a form of communication that might not be available. A lot of people are very quick to pick up a cell phone but it’s very much when you have a disaster can you hear me now.”
About 30 volunteers played the role of evacuees from Washington D.C., including Steve Swim and Karen Lloyd:
“I think it’s a worthwhile thing to plan ahead for disasters and be prepared,” Swim says.
“Yeah, and as much as you practice there’s always going to be that situation where you’re not going to be prepared,” Lloyd says. But having some things ready and knowing partially what you’re doing is going to be better than knowing nothing.”
Dr. Kip Thomas watched as events unfolded. Thomas is director of Boston University School of Medicine’s Biomedical Crisis Management program. Thomas is studying how communities can better respond to emergencies and will use results from Berkeley County’s exercise in his research. Thomas says rural areas face several challenges in preparing for a crisis:
“I think the first challenge is not having enough resources to do these types of exercises often enough to be actually aware and ready for the things that are going to crop up when something like this happens,” Thomas says. I think this is great that they’re doing it. But I think the challenge is who’s actually going to head this way, what is the problem going to be and then trying to determine that in the middle of a crisis. Very difficult.”
Thomas says it’s costly to run emergency exercises like this and researchers like him hope to find ways to practice less expensively (West Virginia Public Broadcasting, 2008).
Title: Drill Teaches Terror Lessons
Date: August 3, 2008
Source: Baltimore Sun
Abstract: A booming crack and a cloud of smoke from a small metallic device caused hundreds to scream, clutch their bodies and quickly head to the exits of M&T Bank Stadium yesterday.
Soon, the parking lots outside the stadium were filled with flashing lights from firetrucks as emergency response workers tended to hundreds of disaster drill participants portraying ailing sports fans.
The three-hour exercise, "Operation Purple Haze," gave 300 local first-response providers an opportunity to prepare for a terrorist attack involving a simulated nuclear weapon. Organizers stressed that the exercise was an attempt to be proactive, and not in response to any specific terrorist threat.
"I am really excited about the number of people taking time out to take a proactive approach to making citizens feel safe," Mayor Sheila Dixon said shortly before the exercise began.
Similar scenarios have been staged at the Ravens' stadium for years, officials said, but yesterday's event, which included 500 volunteers posing as game fans, was the largest yet.
The lessons learned in the exercise at the stadium can be applied to other venues throughout the city and region, such as the Hippodrome and the soon-to-be-opened Convention Center hotel, according to Dixon.
"It's not that we hope for an incident to happen," Dixon said. "It's so we are prepared for an incident should it happen."
This year, Baltimore received $11.5 million in federal funding from the Urban Area Security Initiative, according to Dixon's office. Last year the city received $11.8 million. The money helps to pay for equipment and precautionary drills such as the one held yesterday.
"There is no more important job than to protect others from harm," Dixon said.
The drill allowed for first-responders at the city, state, and federal level to join with Dixon's office, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Maryland Stadium Authority.
The mock event was as true to real life as possible. Five hundred volunteers were recruited to act as fans at a game affected by a nuclear attack. They were assigned information cards that listed their injuries from the explosion. The cards even contained vital statistic such as blood pressure, which medical workers used to treat the injured on site.
Other volunteers were given scripts directing them to attempt to sneak by stadium employees in an attempt to search for missing relatives. Some were painted with makeup to simulate varying injuries.
The magnitude of the drill was part of "the Ravens' ongoing effort to do everything we can do to make the stadium secure," said team President Dick Cass. "We take this very, very seriously."
An attack could happen in any area of the region with a large population, officials said.
"We are never going to be totally ready for the unexpected," Cass said. "Today will allow us to be better prepared."
The Maryland Stadium Authority, which oversees several sites including M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, was particularly interested in the activity.
Camden Yards has 3.5 million visitors a year, said David Raith, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority. "That's why it's important that we have exercises," he said. "We have a lot of people that come through."
Volunteers for yesterday's exercise included stadium employees, season ticket holders and residents of surrounding neighborhoods.
Melissa and Darrell Shelton, a couple who work security at the stadium, immediately volunteered for the chance to participate in the exercise.
"I'm trying to understand what would happen if we emptied out the stadium," Darrell Shelton said. "Every location is an eventual security target. I don't let it get to me."
Melissa Shelton said she feels safer knowing that the stadium staff is prepared for emergencies.
"I think that fans should feel
safe and secure," she said (Baltimore Sun, 2008).
Date: June 2, 2009
Source: CBS News
Abstract: Five hundred and fifty first responders from 30 agencies will be in the Capital Region this week practicing for a worst case scenario.
They'll be pretending two dirty bombs were detonated in Albany -- and are training themselves on how to would deal with that.
A mock staging operation center has been set up at the Albany County Hockey Facility. All the necessary equipment has been brought in and field monitors are out in different parts of the region, collecting mock chemical samples.
The idea is to make mistakes now so mistakes aren't made if this were to happen for real.
The training already makes the Capital Region safer because first responders from federal and state agencies are getting familiar with local responders and will know exactly how to work with them if this were to happen for real in the area (CBS News, 2009).
Title: “Dirty Bomb” Squad Practicing In Capital Region
Date: June 3, 2009
Source: Times Union
Abstract: Between now and Friday, Capital Region residents might spot a low-flying helicopter and people in white “space suits.” There is nothing to fear, though the subject they are tackling is as serious as can be.
Hundreds of federal, state and local law enforcement officials are running through potential responses to a “dirty bomb” attack in Albany. Authorities are staffing a command posts on Albany Shaker Road as they examine how well prepared they are to deal with the theoretical detonation of two improvised radiological devices in Albany.
The reaction to the exercise, part of a three-day effort called “Empire 09,” was sEmpire 09. It featured radiation screenings, officials in white “space suit”-type outfits and aircraft to watch contaminated areas from the sky.
The exercise, hosted by the New York State Disaster Preparedness Commission, was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. It comes only weeks after the FBI arrested four alleged conspirators in a plot to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military planes at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh (Times Union, 2009).
Title: New York Drill For Possible Nuke War
Date: June 13, 2009
Source: Press TV
Abstract: US security authorities have conducted a semi-clandestine nuclear fallout drill in the City of New York in order to be prepared "for the worst."
The NYC Police Department (NYPD) in unison with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) carried out a massive almost-covert anti-nuclear exercise codenamed 'New York, you have a problem' in order to gauge the metropolitan promptness in responding to such attacks.
According to an AP report on Friday, hundreds of NYPD officers and FBI agents participated in the drill that involved the detection of a gamma-ray emitting device concealed in the heart of the urban area.
The group was also accompanied by an elite corps of federal weapons specialists who, under a US attorney general mandate, found a simulated “nuclear device” and diffused it.
Commenting on the nature of new threats on the City area including 'dirty bombs' and other unconventional explosive devices, head of FBI's New York office, Joseph Demarest, said, "It's something we're very concerned about."
Reflecting Demarest's comments, FBI's counterterrorism supervisor, Don Always, told reporters, "Hopefully, we'll never have to do this for real."
"But if we do, we have to do it right the first time," he went on to say.
Security forces have reportedly tested new hi-tech detection gadgets and other gizmos in the operation.
New York City authorities have frequently expressed concerns over a sudden occurrence of such attacks capable to claim numerous lives.
A dirty bomb is an explosive device equipped with nuclear, chemical or biological containers, which could be blown up without having to use sophisticated nuclear detonators.
The news of the NYC nuclear fallout drill comes in the wake of an assessment last week in which the Missouri Congressman Todd Akin warned of a looming nuclear threat on the US's West coast cities as adversarial regimes such as North Korea expand their nuclear and rocket launching capabilities.
The 62-year-old Republican Congressman advised the US administration to seriously consider current nuclear issues threatening US security, which demanded a fortified scheme to tackle the potential issues (Press TV, 2009).
Date: August 5, 2009
Source: Nuclear Threat Initiative
Abstract: Authorities in New York City yesterday conducted a simulated search for sea vessels that could be carrying radiological "dirty bomb" material, CNN reported.
The exercise involved eight local, state and federal agencies, including the New York Police Department and the U.S. Coast Guard. The purpose was to test whether the agencies could effectively detect and interdict substances that could be used in an attack on the city.
"We're a big city, and there are vulnerabilities," said New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
"We do know that Osama Bin Laden several years ago obtained a fatwa to use nuclear weapons, and our goal is to make certain that that fatwa does not come to fruition," Kelly said.
Participating agencies deployed vessels at the entrance to New York Harbor, near the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge that connects Staten Island and Brooklyn. They used radiation detectors to monitor eight target vessels for possible dirty bomb material.
One leisure craft set off alarms, which led responders to board the vessel and discover a substance identified as cesium 137, CNN reported.
Threats can come from seagoing vessels of any size, said NYPD Sgt. Art Mogil.
"It doesn't require a large vessel. A device can be just a few pounds and still be a major threat," he said.
Along with offering practice to personnel, the drill served as a message to would-be terrorists, Kelly said: "It pays to advertise to a certain extent. We want anyone who would do us harm to know that we're out there, that we have the capability to detect."
Yesterday's drill was conducted through the federally funded Securing the Cities pilot program, which is intended to surround New York City with radiation sensors, NBC New York reported. The Obama administration's has requested no funding for the initiative for fiscal 2010, though lawmakers sought to restore financing (Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2009).
Title: Air Force Base Conducts "Dirty Bomb" Drill
Date: April 6, 2010
Source: Nuclear Threat Initiative
Abstract: Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota last month conducted a large-scale disaster response drill in which an attacker shot several people and then set off a radiological "dirty bomb," the UAir Force announced yesterday (see GSN, April 2).
The exercise involved base security personnel, along with roughly 50 organizers and assessors from the FBI, emergency management agencies and other entities and a similar number of volunteers.
In the drill, an armed person invaded the base's McAdoo Sports and Fitness Center on March 26, shooting several people and releasing radioactive material through the use of conventional explosives. Security teams hunted the shooter, extricated bystanders and secured the building, after which emergency personnel aided the wounded.
"Simultaneously, the rest of the base went into lockdown and all major control centers were activated," said 5th Bomb Wing antiterrorism officer P.J. Pallotta said. "Even our elementary schools on base practiced lockdown procedures. It was a very plausible scenario."
Mock victims were also treated at the base hospital.
The simulation demonstrated that the base is well prepared for a possible attack, according to 5th Bomb Wing Vice Commander Col. Julian Tolbert.
"The airmen who participated in today's exercise showed focus and a willingness to overcome the many obstacles seen with such a scenario," Tolbert said. "It's unfortunate we must train for days like today, but I feel confident knowing the base has skilled professionals ready to react to any situation" (Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2010).
Title: Liberty RadEx Drill To Test National Clean-Up And Recovery Efforts After Mock ‘`Dirty Bomb’ Attack
Date: April 26, 2010
Abstract: More than 700 personnel from federal, state and local agencies and the private sector are participating in a 5-day homeland security exercise that began today in Philadelphia. The exercise, called Liberty RadEx, is the largest drill of its kind sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to test the country’s capability to clean up and help communities recover from a dirty bomb terrorist attack. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and City of Philadelphia are co-sponsoring the drill.
Liberty RadEx portrays conditions at least 30 days after a radiological dispersion device was detonated in Independence National Park. The drill is unique in that it simulates the end of the emergency phase when response operations transition to new teams brought in to test areas for radiation contamination, determine cleanup plans, and help communities recover.
“Our first concern is that the public understands Liberty RadEx is a drill and the activities people might see at different locations are only simulations of what might happen in a real event,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “This exercise is significant because it will help inform how all levels of government, businesses and community organizations can work together to meet challenges associated with long-term cleanup and community recovery from a dirty bomb attack.”
“Intergovernmental exercises such as Liberty RadEx are essential in maintaining our ability to respond to events and for evaluating the effectiveness of our response plans,” said Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger. “DEP's Bureau of Radiation Protection will be participating throughout the week by providing staff, technical support, and expertise.”
“The LibertyRAD exercise marks another milestone in Philadelphia's preparedness efforts by evaluating how federal, state and local governments will work collaboratively following a disaster with the long-term devastating consequences a dirty-bomb attack causes,” said MaryAnn E. Tierney, deputy managing director for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management. “Conducting the exercise in a densely populated urban area that is home to some of our nation’s most treasured historic sites and critical infrastructure will be a valuable learning experience for all involved.”
“An exercise of this magnitude offers an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate with our interagency partners. This exercise will provide a comprehensive assessment of our ability to coordinate and communicate with federal, state, and local responders,” said Rear Admiral Wayne E. Justice, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard 5th District.
The majority of Liberty RadEx ‘play’ will occur April 27–29 at venues in Philadelphia, and at one site in Ridley Park, Pa. Site visits and tours are available for the media and others interested in observing (EPA, 2010).
Title: Military Cancels Nuke Attack Test
Date: April 26, 2010
Source: Washington Times
Abstract: The U.S. military has canceled a major field exercise that tests its response to a nuclear attack, angering some officials who say that what is now planned for this month will be a waste of time.
U.S. Northern Command in Colorado withdrew from major participation in this month’s National Level Exercise (NLE), a large-scale drill that tests whether the military and the Department of Homeland Security can work with local governments to respond to an attack or natural disaster.
The exercise was canceled recently after the planned site for a post-nuclear-attack response — Las Vegas — pulled out in November, fearing a negative impact on its struggling business environment.
A government official involved in NLE planning said a new site could not be found. The official also said the Northern Command’s exercise plans for “cooping” — continuity of operations, during which commanders go to off-site locations — also had been scratched.
“All I know is it’s been turned into garbage,” said the official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information. “It’s a nonevent.”
The NLE, which is supposed to be a series of hands-on exercises to test the system in the event terrorists use a nuclear device, has become instead a “tabletop exercise at best,” the official said.
Maj. Michael Humphreys, a Northern Command spokesman, said the military officials decided to delink the Ardent Sentry exercise from the National Level Exercise, but he stressed that the command conducts other exercises and “cooping” at other times.
“This exercise enabled both the [Defense Department] and other agencies to review their processes and procedures, and focus future training efforts on closing gaps and additional areas identified during the exercise,” Maj. Humphreys said. “This year, Ardent Sentry will not be linked with the NLE.”
He said NorthCom will work with the Pentagon in its role in the NLE.
In a statement to The Washington Times, the Pentagon said: “It was necessary to cancel the field exercise portion of the NLE due to the inability to get another state/local community to engage on short notice after the original venue was changed. NorthCom still has a requirement to exercise its core requirements. It is just doing this at another location.”
Created after the Sept. 11 attacks, the NLE is the country’s largest exercise of its kind — combining activities among the military, Department of Homeland Security and local governments to test their joint, emergency response capabilities.
Homeland Security spokesman Clark Stevens said his department still plans major field work.
“NLE 2010 provides an important opportunity to exercise and assess emergency response and recovery capabilities in the face of a major disaster or a terrorist attack against the United States,” Mr. Stevens said.
“Working with local partners in a number of states, the scenario will allow emergency response officials at all levels of government to test response plans, communication capabilities, and interagency coordination — tools that are vital to the effective response in a real-world event.”
The field exercise in Las Vegas was to simulate terrorists detonating an improvised nuclear device assembled with smuggled weapons-grade uranium (Washington Times, 2010).
Title: Nuclear Terror Drill Staged In Los Angeles
Date: May 19, 2010
Abstract: The FBI and other U.S. local, state and federal agencies this week are dealing with a simulated nuclear terror attack in Los Angeles, United Press International reported.
"Threats involving weapons of mass destruction are complex, and confronting them must be practiced constantly," said FBI Assistant Director Steve Martinez, who heads the bureau's Los Angeles field office.
Participants in the three-day exercise worked to track down, deactivate and remove a crude nuclear device at the Los Angeles Coliseum, according to an FBI statement. In addition, authorities intended to seek out other devices dispersed throughout the city (NTI, 2010).
Title: Terror in Redwood City: Emergency Drill Prepares For Terrorist Attack
Date: May 19, 2010
Source: The Daily Journal
Abstract: The explosion that broke yesterday morning’s quiet at the Port of Redwood City was little more than a quick bright flash and billowing plume of black smoke rising up beyond a row of trees.
What did not dissipate quickly, though, was the unexplained blow-up’s fallout — first responders staging areas to assess the injured, hundreds of military and public safety members trying to contain a fire and chemical release and bloodied and battered people strewn in the mud around the Cemex facility.
Those on the ground didn’t know yet what had happened — the 10 a.m. explosion was actually the second terrorist attack which, coupled together, blew up a ship and collapsed a building — but they knew they needed help.
A stick piercing Lauren Fehd’s lung left the 18-year-old worried that her 8-month-old fetus was in distress. Pamela Brown, 25, jumped out a second-story window to escape the building but was also wheezing and blistered from the chemical release. Joan Kyle, 26, was hit on the head by a rock but, while digging Fehd and Brown from the rubble, faced an unexpected danger. It was a snake, which gouged a wound in her arm.
“Wait — you saved us? That is awesome!,” said Brown after hearing Kyle tell her story.
Kyle double-checked her story card on a lanyard around her neck.
Yep, in yesterday’s mock terrorism drill, the three women survived, albeit in need of serious help.
But in helping victims like the trio, emergency personnel from local, state and federal were the ones being aided. The simulated response exercise known as Golden Guardian was one of several statewide testing local reaction to terrorist attacks at various ports, including Redwood City. Past drills have included disease and natural disasters.
California Emergency Management Agency Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen said the drills are also reminders to the greater public to be prepared for 72 hours, including an escape route from the home and knowing where to find gas and water meters.
The annual event started in 2004 under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who was invited to the Redwood City exercise but could not attend.
The governor’s absence was barely noticeable in the sea of roughly 400 participants, including members of the national guard, Air Force, CalEMA and public safety organizations throughout the Peninsula.
Camouflage-clad soldiers and military vehicles rumbled down Seaport Boulevard just outside the Pacific Shores Center. Elsewhere in the state, a terrorist attack on a container ship at the Port of Oakland caused a hazardous plus that resulted in an evacuation. At Pier 48 in San Francisco, divers used the Navy Marine Mammal Program which uses dolphins to recover an explosive device. A dirty bomb and shooters rocked the campus of California State University San Marcos and hostages were taken after a terrorist group took over a Catalina Express ferry boat moored at Long Beach Ferry Terminal.
Back in Redwood City, though, some of the affected had concerns other than their immediate safety — primping. As orange-vested organizers placed actors and explained nuances of their individual symptoms — lethargic means tired, one explained to a woman who wasn’t quite sure how to act — bandages were adjusted and bruises touched up. A smiling woman with blood stains running down her sweatshirt applied blood to the back of another while one nearby man looked less successful in surviving the collapse. He had an angry looking gash across his throat and ghostly white face.
Paul Cramer, 24, freshened up his injuries with a spray bottle of fake blood while his roommate Teddy Vigil, 24, was on the ground with a gnarled foot underneath a piece of Hertz equipment.
Vigil said he was hit by a car, leaving him unable to walk and unconscious. Like the others in the simulation, though, he had been there since 6 a.m. and had been warned to expect an 11-hour day. The actors had answered casting calls on Craigslist and the simulation followed three days of practice, according to Fehd.
Although Tuesday’s drill was simulated, officials said the scenarios and the actors help emergency personnel know how to react if a real situation comes to pass.
“It’ s so easy to forget ... how important this is. The events in New York City a few weeks ago remind us of how important this is,” said Redwood City Mayor Jeff Ira (The Daily Journal, 2010).
Title: Anderson-Area Agencies Prepare For Emergency Drill
Date: May 29, 2010
Source: Independent Mail
Abstract: There will be explosions and military trucks on the streets of Anderson County, but it won’t be real.
In the weeks of June 8 through June 20, Anderson County emergency response teams — from law enforcement units and fire departments to emergency management workers and the coroner’s office — will participate in a mock terrorist attack in the Anderson area.
Called Palmetto Shield and Operation Red Dragon, organizations from Anderson, Abbeville, Greenville, Greenwood, Oconee and Pickens counties will work with the U.S. Army, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross, among other agencies, to simulate the coordination of efforts in the face of a real emergency.
As with other drills, the activities in June will use actors and mannequins to imitate real patients and casualties, said Taylor Jones, emergency services director for Anderson County. And while the exercise isn’t real, the threat is, he said.
“There are a lot of plants in the region that are very critical to the economic engine of South Carolina and the country,” Jones said. “This area is also crucial to the energy-producing engine of our area, the whole Southeast and the nation at large.”
The scenario will play out like this: On June 8, intelligence agencies will start to hear chatter that a terrorist group is planning an attack somewhere between Atlanta and Charlotte.
Throughout the week, intelligence will continue to point to some sort of pending attack.
On June 12, a domestic violence call in Honea Path will result in officers finding bomb-making equipment. From there, a series of events will happen, including the explosion of an improvised explosive device at a Greenwood train facility, the discovery of more bomb-making equipment at an Abbeville home and a call to assist with the aftermath of a hurricane on the coast.
The training exercises will culminate on June 19 when two trucks head down Interstate 85 toward Anderson and get off at exit 19. One truck will drive up Clemson Boulevard toward Pendleton and stop at the Michelin plant in Sandy Springs. An IED dirty bomb will explode there, injuring eight and killing two.
But that truck will be a diversion to the “real” event, another IED dirty bomb at a mock car and bike show at the Anderson University Athletic Campus, the former Anderson County Fair and Expo Center on Williamston Road.
“This will be the real target, something with a lot of people,” Jones said. “This IED will take out 150 people with 25 dead.”
Local agencies will have a chance to work with national organizations as well as with specialized equipment available in the state, he said. For instance, when the city of Anderson Police Department is faced with the attack, it will call in the U.S. Army Reserves to assist with decontamination, reconnaissance and air sampling.
“This is part of their Operation Red Dragon,” Jones said. “It gives the Army a chance to work with civilians and learn how to get out of the military mind-set and work more effectively with local units.”
Simulating mass fatalities will be a “major test of our resources,” said Greg Shore, Anderson County Coroner and MedShore Ambulance Service chief executive officer.
“This is probably the largest simulated exercise involving real-time events we’ve been involved with,” Shore said. “It will give us an opportunity to test our mass fatality plan of action.”
Abbeville County Coroner Ronnie Ashley will participate in the drill, Shore said, by managing the activity at the South Carolina Coroner’s Association regional response trailer.
The trailer is equipped to provide supplies in the event of a mass fatality emergency. It will be staged near the Anderson University Athletic Campus, Shore said.
MedShore will activate its 42-member disaster response team, whose paramedics and emergency medical technicians will answer simulated calls in more than 60 ambulances, he said.
“We’ve been training with local agencies but this drill will test our ability to work with state-level and federal emergency response agencies,” Shore said. “We’re excited to see how we respond.”
It will also give the responding agencies an opportunity to check on how well they communicate with one another as well as the public.
“We’ll be activating our (billboard emergency alert system), to let people know that it’s just a drill,” said Anita Donley, public information officer for the Anderson County emergency services division. “We’ll also be doing updates on our Web site, sending out emergency texts and updating people through our Facebook and Twitter accounts. For the people within a 1-mile radius of the actual event site, we will be activating our reverse 911, to call residents and let them know this is a drill. We really want to be able to test all of our procedures.”
Honea Path Police Chief David King said the event will be a learning experience for all the parties involved.
“It’s going to be a very beneficial training opportunity for our department to work and learn together with Anderson County Sheriffs Office,” King said. “Anderson sheriffs SWAT team, emergency preparedness officials and state and federal agencies as well. It will also test our communications between our dispatch center, law enforcement agencies and all our emergency services. Everything will be handled just as a real emergency exist. A lot of hard work is going into this training by all agencies involved. … Our goal is to make sure we are prepared to protect our community and county.”
Jones said the event will be paid for with grants and federal money. Overtime that will be paid for the event will be paid through a $92,000 grant, he said, while the initial work on the project was covered by a $35,000 state grant,
And the money spent on the project, he said, will stay in the Upstate.
Federal agencies, when they bring in their people and equipment to the area for the drill, are expected to spend more than $25,000 a day on food, shelter, equipment and other resources.
“This is as much a boost to our own pockets as our own sense of security,” said interim Anderson County administrator Rusty Burns. “On May 21, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report that said, ‘The number and pace of attempted attacks against the United States over the past nine months have surpassed the number of attempts during any other previous one-year period.’ Just like with home fire drills, none of us can ignore the need to be prepared for the worst. And while many of us will sleep better knowing our agencies are prepared to deal with this, ultimately many others will sleep better because of the food on their table and the money in their pockets that resulted from these organizations spending their training dollars in Anderson.”Jones said several teams with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office will participate, including a group of criminal investigators who will gather intelligence and report it. Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper said the exercise would no in no way detract from the day-to-day operations of the sheriff’s office (Independant Mail, 2010).
Title: Dry Run For Nuclear Terror Medics
Date: July 14, 2010
Source: Yorkshire Post
Abstract: Fire crews and hospital staff carried out an exercise in Barnsley yesterday to test the emergency response to a terrorist attack in South Yorkshire.
The scenario was that a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) device had exploded in the Meadowhall shopping centre and crowds of people with radiation burns needed to be treated.
Volunteers were showered in "decontamination" tents at Barnsley Hospital before being allowed in the hospital's emergency department.Mike Lees, head of emergency planning at Barnsley Hospital, said: "Exercises like this are all about gaining experience for the future, for the time when we have to deal with real, large-scale emergencies" (Yorkshire Post, 2010).
Title: Agencies Drill For Nuclear Terrorist Attack
Date: July 28, 2010
Source: The Nuclear Bible
Abstract: Firefighters, police, sheriff's deputies, paramedics, the county coroner and other emergency services personnel will participate in a TRAINING exercise that simulates a response to the detonation of 10-kiloton improvised nuclear device. The drill is "not based on any actual intelligence information or threat to Los Angeles or the United States," said Ken Kondo, a spokesman for the county's Office of Emergency Management.
It is geared toward advance planning for such an event and to share information and technology between first responders and public safety personnel at local, state and federal levels. "The greatest threat to U.S. and global security is no longer a nuclear exchange between nations, but nuclear terrorism by violent extremists and nuclear proliferation to an increasing number of states," said Obama in announcing a shift in the country's nuclear policy. Such an improvised nuclear device could be small enough to be carried in a briefcase, but would wreak "indescribable" devastation, Kondo said. After detonation, depending on wind patterns, a plume cloud could cover much of the Southern California area.
"The most critical point to be made is that the majority of the population will survive this kind of an incident and participating agencies must be prepared to manage the consequences in a deliberate and focused manner, in order to protect lives and preserve property," Kondo said. Any nuclear blast would leave damaged buildings, broken windows and potential nuclear fallout in its wake, so residents would be urged to shelter in place. "It's better to be safe inside" in such a scenario, said Kondo. Just as in the event of an earthquake or other potential natural disasters, residents should be prepared with plenty of supplies, including food, water and a battery-operated radio to listen to emergency communications.
Personnel from 88 cities, 137 unincorporated areas and more than 200 special districts will participate in the exercise, dubbed "Operation Golden Phoenix 2010." Emergency operations centers throughout the Southland will be activated as part of the drill and communicate with the Los Angeles County Emergency Operations Center, said Kondo. In Burbank, public safety personnel will host a live demonstration of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Integrated Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (ICBRNE) real-time sensor technology system. The sensors monitor conditions and alert officials about the detection of radiation in the area.
The planning team for today's events includes the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office, Office of Emergency Management; the City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department; and the county's Department of Public Health. Ventura County officials will also participate, as part of the exercise will anticipate the possibility of evacuating residents to other counties. The training is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate and facilitated by the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Asymmetric Warfare.
The county Office of Emergency Management has developed two programs to prepare citizens and the media for all hazards and catastrophic events. The county spokesman urged residents to use the online materials to develop a family emergency plan and to stock necessary supplies. "If it does happen, it will happen quickly," Kondo said. "If you have a plan, you will be able to survive‖ (Nuclear Bible, 2010).
Title: Authorities Drill At MIT For "Dirty Bomb" Material Theft
Date: August 20, 2010
Source: Nuclear Threat Initiative
Abstract: Federal, state and local agencies yesterday responded to a simulated attempt by extremists to seize radioactive cobalt from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for use in a radiological "dirty bomb," the Boston Globe reported (see GSN, Aug. 11).
The FBI and Energy Department coordinated the unpublicized exercise, which involved medical and fire personnel as well as state, city and campus police. The effort was part of the "Silent Thunder" series of drills, which focuses on responses by multiple levels of government to threats involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.
Government sources refused to discuss difficulties that might have emerged in the drill, which addressed possible means of preventing would-be thieves from obtaining dirty-bomb ingredients as well as potential government responses to an attack involving radiological material or a different type of unconventional weapon.
"Exercises of this type are valuable tools for enhancing coordination among the various organizations involved in response management," MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory head David Moncton said.
"The purpose of these exercises is to get all the key players together around a table to practice going through the kind of crisis management and emergency response scenarios that could come up in a real world emergency, to make sure we get the kinks worked out in advance," National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Damien LaVera said of the drill. "It helps communities think through all the contingencies they would need to be prepared for, in the event of a real attack."
The Energy Department has pursued initiatives aimed at stepping up safeguards at numerous facilities around Boston housing radioactive materials for medical or research use. Upgrades to protective measures were under way at MIT -- the university maintains multiple blood irradiation facilities and, for now, one of the few remaining U.S. atomic reactors running on weapon-grade uranium -- as well as five other sites in the region, officials said without specifying the other institutions involved.
"Boston has a concentration of major research universities," Deputy Energy Undersecretary Steven Aoki said. "We are trying to make sure in a very complicated area that everyone has some awareness of what the relationships and roles and responsibilities are" of various groups that would respond to an incident, he said.
The upgrades, underwritten by the Energy Department's Global Threat Reduction Initiative, include biometric identification systems, security cameras, motion sensors and mechanisms for informing government agencies of the theft of radioactive material. The Energy Department initiative is expected to receive $300 million in fiscal 2011 for security efforts inside the country.
As of last month, the United States had bolstered safeguards at only 131 of more than 2,100 sites holding potentially at-risk radioactive substances. Enhancements were expected at the remaining facilities by 2019."It is important to not focus solely on attacks from outside terrorists attempting to penetrate and steal material," Kenneth Sheely, an Energy Department associate assistant deputy administrator, told lawmakers in 2009. "The possibility and probability of a passive insider, (such as) one who simply arranges access to the facility for the adversary, or an active insider, one who participates in the theft, diversion, or sabotage of radiological material, is greater, given the open environment of a university campus or city hospital in which many radiological devices are used" (Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2010).
Title: Multi-Agency Drill Tests Response
To Terrorist Attack
Date: September 27, 2010
Source: Portland Online
Abstract: On September 27, 2011, Portland Fire & Rescue's (PF&R) Hazardous Materials team from Fire Station 7 in SE Portland participated in a federal all-day drill in North Portland by the Willamette River. The focus was on one of the great concerns of the post-9/11 era: nuclear terrorism.
PF&R worked alongside other local, state, and federal agencies to test their ability to detect radiological materials and prevent an attack orchestrated by a fictional terror cell intent on targeting the City of Portland with a “dirty bomb.”
“The goal is to exercise our capacity to respond in the aftermath of a terrorist attack,” stated PF&R's Hazardous Materials Coordinator Grant Coffey (pictured above).
The exercise was supervised by an outside consultant and funded with federal grant monies (Portland Online, 2011).Title: Team Edwards Concludes Exercise Desert Wind With Dirty-Bomb Drill
Date: August 2010
Source: CBRNIAC Newsletter
Abstract: The 95th Air Base Wing (ABW) [Edwards Air Force Base, California] concluded a week-long emergency disaster drill called Exercise Desert Wind 10-4, August 9 through 13, 2010. The exercise picked up where it left off in May of this year from a hypothetical earthquake which wreaked havoc around the Southwestern U.S. ABW personnel participated in recovery efforts with Force Protection Condition exercises, emergency disaster drill evacuations and recovery, simulated hazardous material spills and a dirty-bomb explosion.
Military and civilian personnel participated in the exercise that included interagency participation through the Defense Support of Civilian Agencies. Participants also practiced receiving Antelope Valley-area evacuees and providing temporary housing of those evacuees on base. Edwards’ Fire Department and 95th Medical Group personnel donned personal protective equipment and simulated the use of specialized monitoring gear to check for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosives contamination levels in the immediate area.
In near 100 degree temperatures, the exercise ended with a simulated dirty-bomb detonation. Edwards Federal Fire Department, Department of the Air Force guards and 95th Security Forces Squadron responded to contain, maintain and eliminate the spread of damage from the simulated explosion (CBRNIAC Newsletter, 2010).
Date: April 5, 2011
Source: CBS News
Abstract: A week-long series of terror drills involving dozens of agencies and first responders begins Tuesday in the Big Apple. The focus will be on one of the great concerns of the post-9/11 era: nuclear terrorism, Jay Dow reports.
The NYPD and 70 other law enforcement agencies across our region will test their ability to detect radiological materials and prevent an attack orchestrated by four fictional terror cells intent on targeting New York City with a “dirty bomb.”The drill began with a massive deployment Tuesday morning at the United Nations, and will run through Saturday.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said New Yorkers can expect to see a heightened presence near bridges, transit hubs, and on the waters around New York City.
“We’ll be manning up to 400 checkpoints throughout the Metropolitan Area to test our ability to intercept radiological material. There actually will be samples of radiological materials,” he said.
Kelly said over the next five days, residents can expect to see a heightened presence near bridges, transit hubs, and on the waters around New York City.
“The goal is to exercise our capacity to intersect radiological material coming into the city,” he said.
The exercise will be supervised by an outside consultant and, with overtime pay inevitable, funded by a federal grant.
“We’ve distributed, both in the New York City Police Department and other agencies throughout the Metropolitan Area 4,200 radiation-detection devices,” said Kelly
Particular areas that will be impacted include the Macombs Dam Bridge, the 225th Street Bridge, the 138th Street Bridge, the 155th Street Bridge and the Third Avenue Bridge.
“We need to be protected by whatever means necessary,” said Pierre Baptiste of Manhattan.
“With what’s happening in the world, it’s needed. We’re at war on all fronts, so it’s best to start here. Sooner or later it’s going to get here,” said Charles Watson of the Bronx (CBS News, 2011).Title: Radiological Assistance Program Drill “RAP” Up
Date: August 10, 2011
Source: Brookhaven National Laboratory
Abstract: With helicopters, soldiers, emergency vehicles, and a fictitious dirty bomb on site July 27, Brookhaven Lab looked more like the set for a new blockbuster action movie than a place where scientists are studying the origins of the universe and working on the nation’s energy challenges.
That morning, the New York National Guard's 24th Civil Support Team (CST) for Weapons of Mass Destruction traveled by air and expressway from Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn to BNL for a training drill conducted by the Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) that also included members of the DOE-Brookhaven Site Office, the Nonproliferation & National Security Department, Police and Fire and Rescue groups, the Office of Emergency Management, and Suffolk County Police Department Emergency Services.
The scripted situation for the drill involved a simulated dirty bomb containing radioactive contaminants exploding in an area southeast of BNL’s National Synchrotron Light Source II construction site. In the hours afterward, participants assessed the situation, characterized the radioactive materials from the “blast” and then responded using plume models and other tools.
“We hope that we won’t ever have to actually use what we practice, but with that being said, this drill went extremely well and everyone involved got something out of it,” said Lee Michel, training and outreach coordinator for Brookhaven’s RAP team.
“The real strength in these drills is bringing together multiple agencies to rehearse how we would execute in a real situation,” said Major Jody Lupo of the CST. “Our unit wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is today without the support we receive from the people at DOE and Brookhaven.”
The Brookhaven RAP team, which is responsible for the region that stretches from Maryland and the western border of Pennsylvania all the way up to Maine, will work with CST teams from Connecticut and Pennsylvania in the coming months (Brookhaven National Laboratory, 2011).
Title: 'Dirty Bomb' Drill Puts Seattle Central, National Guard To The Test
Date: September 2, 2011
Source: Capitol Hill Seattle
Abstract: For Robert Huss, head of security for Seattle Central, Thursday's "dirty bomb" exercise -- complete with a fake-looking blown-off plastic arm -- atop the school's science and math building was an opportunity to test out the safety procedures for the campus he is responsible for.
For the specialists of the Washington National Guard Civilian Support Team 10, a day of drills hunting for small radioactive capsules provided the opportunity to put their skills to the test in a busy city environment in the heart of Capitol Hill.
While it was annoying for the big media flyovers it encouraged, the drills involving the school, the Guard, State Patrol and SPD have been relatively regular occurrences on Seattle's community college campuses including SCCC, Huss said.
Previous SCCC drills have been held at night. The timing of Thursday's exercise, Huss told CHS, had nothing to do with the approaching ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And Huss said to expect more drills of a similar nature in the future. Fake blown-off plastic arms included, we presume (Capitol Hill Seattle, 2011).
Title: Nuclear Security Agency/FBI
Complete Nuclear Terror Drill
Date: October 31, 2011
Source: Government Security News
Abstract: The U.S. agency responsible for nuclear security and the FBI completed a table-top exercise at a Boston children’s hospital that tested local response to a terror incident involving nuclear materials.
The drill, called “Longwood Thunder,” was part of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Silent Thunder series of exercises aimed at giving federal, state and local officials and first responders hands-on experience in prioritized alarm assessment and response, crisis management, threat assessment, emergency response, consequence management and post-contingency procedures in the event of a terrorist incident involving radiological materials.
The counterterrorism exercise at Children’s Hospital Boston was one of several Silent Thunder exercises that take place in select locations across the United States to improve security for nuclear or high-activity radioactive materials, said NNSA. The series is jointly organized and funded by the agency’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative, its Office of Counterterrorism Policy and Cooperation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The exercises involve fictitious scenarios, said NNSA, like terrorists infiltrating a research facility and attempting to seize control of a high-activity radiological source that in principle could be used in radiological dispersal devices (RDDs), commonly referred to as “dirty bombs.” Participating officials work cooperatively to assess and respond to critical facility alarms and then manage the created crisis as if it was actually happening, it explained in an Oct. 27 statement. The goal of the exercises is to provide first-hand crisis management experience and to improve both alarm response and emergency response methods.
The Longwood Thunder exercise used a fictitious scenario involving radioactive materials, said NNSA. Children’s Hospital Boston’s expertise in both radiation technology and security were valuable contributions to the exercise, which also involved first responders from the city and state levels.
“The strong partnership between our local, state, federal and private sector officials allows us to regularly engage in preparation exercises for all types of disasters,” said Massachusetts Homeland Security Undersecretary Kurt Schwartz. “This important training helps ensure our readiness by testing our developed response plans and determining if those plans need to be improved.”
“These exercises are critical to improving cooperation among federal, state and local officials, and we welcome the opportunity to work with organizations like Children’s Hospital Boston to ensure effective planning, communication and response coordination,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation Steven Aoki. “NNSA’s investments in nuclear security provide the unique technical knowledge and capabilities that help protect our country against terrorist attacks.”
Started in 1999, the
WMD Counterterrorism Exercise Program took on an expanded role following the
tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, said NNSA. Since the program began, more than
7,500 international, federal, and local officials have participated in 93
different exercises. To promote full participation by state and local
officials, Silent Thunder exercises are unclassified and utilize open source
information for scenario development, it said (Government
Security News, 2011).
Title: Phoenix Hosts State, Federal
Agencies For Massive Disaster Drill
Date: November 4, 2011
Source: ABC 15 News
Abstract: Hundreds of state and federal agencies responded to a call of a massive explosion in Phoenix Friday, but don't worry, you were never in harm's way.
Two hundred and fifty agencies participated in a disaster drill where officials simulated a building collapse due to a nuclear explosion. The drill included victims, decontamination areas, rescues and medical tents, among other simulations.
"This is probably the closest thing we'll get to the real thing," said Phoenix Firefighter Wayne Perch.
Officials wanted to give the agencies practice responding to such a massive disaster, as well as a chance to work on communication between agencies.
"Every day we could be a potential victim of any kind of natural disaster or man-made disaster," said Brad Pitassi with the Maricopa Fire Department.
The drill is funded with grant money and is expected to last through the weekend.
"No one ever wants to do this for real, but yeah it would be kind of cool to do it," Perch said.
He just hopes no one ever has to (ABC 15 News, 2011).
Title: U.K., U.S. Conduct Nuclear
Date: November 8, 2011
Source: Nuclear Threat Initiative
Abstract: In a recent bilateral nuclear forensics drill, participating United States and United Kingdom scientific facilities were able to demonstrate an ability to effectively analyze radioactive material in a mock nuclear attack, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration announced on Monday (see GSN, Aug. 10, 2010).
The so-called Exercise Opal Tiger took place through much of last month and involved the U.S. Energy Department using a range of scientific technologies to identify the originating source of material gathered following a simulated crude nuclear weapons attack on the United Kingdom.
"The exercise enhanced collaboration in technical nuclear forensics between the U.S and U.K.," NNSA Associate Administrator Joseph Krol said in provided comments. "Expanding international collaboration in nuclear forensics improves the ability of governments to identify the nature and source of interdicted or seized materials and weapons, as well as the source of a detonated weapon. I’m proud of the work of the men and women who were involved in the exercise."
The U.S. nuclear agency -- a semiautonomous branch of the Energy Department -- joined the FBI and Defense Department, among others, in the National Technical Nuclear Forensics initiative, which organized last month's bilateral drill (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration release, Nov. 7) (Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2011).Title: New York National Guard Conducts "Dirty Bomb" Drill In Urban Setting
Date: November 9, 2011
Source: Read Media
Abstract: Sirens on emergency vehicles flashed through the air as more than 600 New York Army and Air National Guard members, and civilian first responders reacted to a terrorism response drill in the downtown Kingston area November 5, 2011.
The 24th Civil Support Team and the New York National Guard CERFP (CBRN [Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear] Enhanced Response Force Package) are specially trained to detect the presence of hazardous materials and relieve civilian first responders and sustain emergency rescue operations after an attack.
With the exercise taking place in downtown Kingston, local residents watched as military and civilian forces reacted, in stages, to a simulated dirty bomb detonation. This was the first time the New York National Guard has conducted a drill like this in an actual city.
When sent in, the search and extraction team suit up and begin examining the site and the casualties.
"The search and extraction team breaches the area and assesses the number and injuries of the casualties," Capt. Jennifer Sheringham a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) plans and operations officer said. "They are the first ones notified of a chemical presence from the civilian first responders."
As the search and extraction team brings simulated casualties to the decontamination site, the next stage begins.
Fully suited during the decontamination phase, the teams send casualties through a series of tents where they are rinsed and retested for signs of chemical or radioactive activity.
Working together in an urban environment for the first time, the CERFP and the civil support team practiced a real world situation to better prepare for an unexpected disaster.
"Our goal today is to look at our response time, see how we are working as a group and pinpoint our deficiencies," Sheringham said. "We try to make it as realistic as possible so that if something does happen we know we'll be ready."
Operating in a high stress environment does not come without difficulty.
"Personnel are a struggle because we have some people that really know what they are doing, and then some that are doing this type of training for the first time and that makes it hard," Sgt. Ruffy Galsim, the non-commissioned officer in charge for non-ambulatory decontamination said. "Our unit does this training at least every two months in order to keep up with new Soldiers coming into the unit."
Working in an urban environment, space is not negotiable.
"Every scenario is different," Galsim said. "In a small area like this we have to be able to coordinate ourselves with the space that we are given.
Cooperation between civil and military forces is essential for training but does not come without certain challenges.
"There are always obstacles but the hardest part is getting together and getting it right," said Major Fred McCoy, executive officer, 104th Military Police Battalion. "The Soldier's, airmen, and civilian forces really came together and integrated well."
Closing down a major part of downtown Kingston for a training exercise and the amount of coordination in working with so many different support teams in no way outweighs the importance of the exercise itself.
"In a natural disaster this is what would happen," McCoy said. "We would in such a case integrate with civilian forces so this integration is reality" (Read Media, 2011).Title: Nuclear Drill Set In Suffolk In December
Date: November 14, 2011
Abstract: Counterterrorism units of the NYPD and Long Island police departments will fan out across Suffolk County on Dec. 15 as part of a major exercise to find and intercept a mock improvised nuclear bomb destined for New York City, officials said Monday.
The Suffolk nuclear drill, similar to one carried out in April in the city that looked for a "dirty bomb," will focus the search for a device containing... (Newsday, 2011).Title: Japan’s First Anti-Terror Drill For Dirty Bomb Attack
Date: September 2, 2011
Source: 9 ABC
Abstract: In the Japanese
capital Tokyo, dressed in chemical suits exercises rescue personnel in
anti-terror drill” wounded. ” Day, large-scale anti-terrorism drill in Tokyo,
Japan. This is the first time in Japan for the “dirty bomb” in anti-terrorism
exercises aimed at improving the terrorist attacks, the agencies’ response
capabilities and ability to inter-agency cooperation. Tokyo Fire Department,
Coast Guard, Japan Radioisotope Association, about 11 institutions who
participated in 1000 lasted an hour’s exercise. “Dirty bomb”, also known as
radioactive bomb, detonated by conventional explosives such as TNT, etc., with
the enormous explosive power of a bomb containing radioactive material, mainly
radioactive particles, projectiles scattered into the air, causing the
equivalent of nuclear radiation dust pollution (9 ABC, 2011).