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U.S. Department of Homeland Security Conducts Radiological and Nuclear Material Detection Drills with Puget Sound Partners

Boats conducting the Small Vessel Standoff Detection exercise in Sequim Bay, Washington.

In October 2013, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) partnered with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine Sciences Laboratory to host a day of maritime radiological and nuclear detection drills with 77 participants representing federal, state, and local departments and agencies.  The drills took place within the Puget Sound region in Sequim Bay, Wash., as part of DNDO’s Small Vessel Standoff Detection (SVSD) Program. 

DNDO conducted the SVSD exercise to screen small vessels—less than 40 ft. long—for radiological and nuclear materials, train detection boat crews, and test the detection capabilities of human-portable and boat-mounted equipment. 

The SVSD event used three floating platforms anchored in Sequim Bay, each representing a small vessel.  The platforms contained sealed radiological and nuclear sources which allowed participants to exercise their standard small vessel detection screening procedures. The SVSD event offered participants a unique opportunity to train capabilities to detect special nuclear materials in a maritime environment. 

Over the past eight years, the SVSD Program has provided step-by-step guidance and participated in these kinds of drills to help first responders develop and enhance radiological and nuclear detection capabilities.  These training events help maintain skills and training, while refining detection operations. 

Close coordination between federal, state, and local agencies is critical to detecting radiological and nuclear materials in the maritime environment.  The following departments and agencies participated in this event:

  • Bainbridge Island Police
  • Clallam County Sheriff
  • Port Orchard Police
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Seattle Fire Department
  • Skagit County Sheriff
  • Snohomish County Sheriff
  • Tacoma Police
  • U.S. Army National Guard Bureau 10th Civil Support Team
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine
  • Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Washington State Department of Health Radiation Division
  • Washington State Police Bomb Squad

For information about other regional efforts conducted by DNDO or to participate in future training events, please contact DNDO at dndo.sla@hq.dhs.gov.

The DNDO is a jointly staffed agency within the Department of Homeland Security.  DNDO is the primary entity in the U.S. government for implementing domestic nuclear detection efforts for a managed and coordinated response to radiological and nuclear threats, as well as integration of federal nuclear forensics programs.  Additionally, DNDO is charged with coordinating the development of the global nuclear detection and reporting architecture, with partners from federal, state, local, and international governments and the private sector.

Last Published Date: November 22, 2013
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