NNSA Conducts Aerial Radiological Measurements International Symposium

Press Release
Apr 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration Office of Emergency Operations this week is holding an international symposium in Las Vegas, Nev., on the techniques and challenges associated with aerial radiological measurements. Symposium participants include 17 international experts from eight countries and U.S. experts from NNSA, DOE/NNSA laboratories, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Aerial radiation measurements have been used in the U.S. to respond to nuclear incidents and characterize currently existing radiation around U.S. nuclear sites and were extensively used in Japan to map ground contamination following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan last March. In response to that accident, NNSA experts flew radiation detection equipment on U.S. military aircraft to support the Japanese government’s monitoring effort. Four scientists from Japan are attending the symposium to explain their ongoing challenges and what analysis techniques they are employing to address these challenges as they continue to respond to the Fukushima accident.

“Although the symposium is not solely about NNSA’s experiences in Japan, it is in part because those events reminded us of the many technical challenges and importance of aerial measurements,” said Joseph J. Krol, Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations. “These aerial measuring capabilities quickly indicate where radioactive contamination is, as well as confirming where it is not, an equally important public safety function.”

The NNSA maintains the U.S. Aerial Measuring System (AMS) capability to respond to radiological and nuclear incidents in the U.S. The AMS uses specialized radiation detection systems mounted in aircraft to provide real-time measurements of ground contamination. The AMS team consists of scientists, technicians, pilots and ground support personnel. These trained experts are in charge of maintaining a state of readiness to respond to a radiological emergency at any time. The teams are based out of Las Vegas, Nev., Washington, D.C., and Aiken, S.C. The symposium includes a tour of the DOE/NNSA Aerial Measuring System at the Remote Sensing Lab at Nellis Air Force Base.

Representatives from Switzerland, Sweden, France, United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada, Japan and Norway are in attendance at the symposium.

Group photo

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.