WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the State of Maryland today announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) intended to strengthen efforts to prevent, mitigate and respond to radiological/nuclear threats and incidents in Maryland. NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the MOU, providing a strategic framework for areas of ongoing collaboration between NNSA and the State of Maryland.
“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 Administrator D’Agostino. “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 Governor O’Malley. “This agreement expands NNSA’s and Maryland’s ongoing partnership in important areas including training, situational awareness and improving security.”
There are thousands of civilian sites in the U.S. where nuclear and radiological materials are used for legitimate commercial, medical and research purposes. These materials are often found in open environments, such as 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.
NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), 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. These upgrades are in addition to security enhancements required by the NRC and state governments since 2006. GTRI’s security upgrades are federally-funded, cost-effective and prudent best practices that improve security beyond regulatory requirements.
Since GTRI and Maryland began working together three years ago, GTRI has secured 43 buildings that house nuclear and radiological material and has removed more than 13,000 curies’ worth of radioactive sources for safe and secure storage. The partnership between GTRI and the Maryland Department of the Environment is a strong example of a Government Accountability Office recommendation to increase outreach efforts to promote awareness of and participation in NNSA’s security upgrade program.
The U.S. government is working every day to prevent a dirty bomb from ever becoming reality. In addition to securing materials at the source, NNSA 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 is 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 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.
For more information on NNSA’s GTRI program, click here.
For more information on NNSA’s Emergency Operations program, click here.
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.