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EPA's Radiological and Nuclear Emergency Response Program. June 18, 2009 Presented by: Ronald Fraass , Lab Director National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory. EPA’s Role in Terrorist Incidents. Pre-release Support the DHS and the FBI in threat credibility assessment

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EPA's Radiological and Nuclear Emergency Response Program

June 18, 2009Presented by:Ronald Fraass, Lab DirectorNational Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory

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EPA’s Role in Terrorist Incidents

  • Pre-release

    • Support the DHS and the FBI in threat credibility assessment

    • Can pre-deploy at Nationally Significant Special Events (NSSEs) or on Domestic Emergency Support Team (DEST)

      • Incident-specific

  • Post-release

    • Forensic assets assist in evidence collection

    • Emergency response assets respond to consequences of incident at the tactical level

    • Clean-up efforts

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Consequences Response Role

  • Provide overall response coordination (NRF/ESF#10) – emergency response management/support to federal, state, tribal, and local governments

  • Perform and coordinate radiological monitoring and assessment

  • Develop Protective Action Guides (PAGs)

  • Provide “Special Teams” emergency response radiological expertise and support under the NCP and also as NIRT members if requested by FEMA

  • Serve as Coordinating Agency under the NRF’s Nuclear/Radiological Incident Annex in some circumstances:

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US EPA’s SPECIAL TEAMSWorking Together to Support National Emergency Response

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EPA Response Assets



■ - OSC Locations ■ - National Labs & Centers

● - RERT Locations ● - ERT Locations

●- NDT Location *- NCERT

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Radiological Emergency Response Team (RERT)Established in 1971

  • Mission - leads or assists federal, state, tribal, and local response efforts before, during, and following a radiological incident

  • Focus: Radiation monitoring & evaluation

    • Sampling / monitoring

    • Lab analysis

    • Hazard evaluation

    • Characterization

    • Clean-up decontamination

    • Risk Assessment

    • Waste disposal

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Environmental Response Team (ERT)Established in 1978

  • Mission: Support the nation’s response, cleanup and renewal of its contaminated land, water and air.

  • Focus: “classic environmental” emergencies and more…

    • Characterization

    • Sampling / monitoring

    • Hazard evaluation

    • Risk Assessment

    • Health & Safety

    • Decon / disposal

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National Decontamination Team (NDT) Established 2003

Mission – to provide on-site scientific and technical expertise in response to incidences of national significance involving environmental contamination and acts of terrorism related to weapons of mass destruction.

Focus: WMD agents

  • Sampling

  • Health and Safety

  • Decontamination

  • Waste Disposal

  • Nature and extent of contamination

Buildings, infrastructure, indoor environments, agriculture, environmental media

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National Counterterrorism Evidence Response Team (NCERT)Established in 2001

MISSION – To provide specialized law enforcement management of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) incidents

Focus : provide special agents for crime scene forensics and evidence collection in contaminated zones

RNC 2004 NYC


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Special Team Assets


  • Environmental Scientists

  • Health Physicists

  • Medical Officers

  • Geologists

  • Industrial Hygienists

  • Toxicologists

  • Chemists

  • Biologists

  • Engineers (Chem, Env, Civ, Nuc)

  • Env Protection Specialists

  • Special Agents – Law Enforcement

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Special Team Assets

  • Mobile Labs – MERLS, TAGA, Phyllis, ASPECT, field lab systems

  • Scanner Van/ERGS/Robots

  • Real time Air Monitoring

  • Mobile Command Posts/platforms

  • Sampling and Monitoring equipment for rad/chem/bio

  • Forensic sampling

  • RadNet – Fixed & deployable monitors

  • Fixed Labs: Radiological and Mixed Waste

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National Radiation Monitoring

  • EPA has upgraded its national radiation air monitoring

  • because air is a likely pathway of exposure from a terrorist incident

  • Previously known as the Environmental Radiation Ambient Monitoring System (ERAMS)

  • Nationwide, continuously operating environmental radiation monitoring system

    • Upgraded air monitoring to include both fixed and deployable components

    • Air monitoring provides near real-time gamma spectroscopy & beta detection

    • Milk, precipitation, and drinking water also routinely monitored

  • Helps decision-makers estimate the effects of national scale radioactive releases on human health and the environment

  • Developed system to meet data quality objectives based on response timeline

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Fixed Monitor Systems

  • Major Components

    • Air Sampler

    • Radiation Instruments :

      Gamma Spectroscopy & Beta Detectors transmit data in near-real time

    • Data Processing & Storing

    • Data Telemetry—4 options

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RadNet Fixed Air Monitors

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Deployable Monitors

  • 40 deployable air monitors improve system coverage around an incident or potential threat

  • Automatically transmit near-real-time external exposure rate

  • Provide more flexible monitoring capability

    • Include high and low volume air samplers and simplified weather station

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Radiological Incident Response Challenges

  • Maintaining radiation emergency response, clean-up capabilities, and preparedness

    • Application of DHS guidance for establishing cleanup levels

    • Practical planning and exercises to make this approach viable and acceptable to affected state and local officials

    • Expanding national laboratory operating capacity for radionuclides

    • Processing and integrating massive incident data

  • Ensuring that appropriate research is being conducted to help support our radiological clean-up mission

    • Transferring decontamination & clean-up technologies to urban environments

  • Integrating limited technical specialists into national response