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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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Authorities Conduct Radiological Drill in Hawaii

A recent exercise in Hawaii called on authorities to manage a simulated extremist incident involving radiological substances, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration said on Thursday (see GSN, March 23).

National, state and jurisdictional government and emergency personnel took part in the tabletop "Island Thunder" drill, one of a series of exercises in which officials respond to mock situations such as an extremist effort to wrest control of a possible radiological "dirty bomb" ingredient from a laboratory. The FBI facilitates the drills with the NNSA Global Threat Reduction Initiative and Counterterrorism Policy Office.

“NNSA remains committed to continuing exercises such as this, in order to help maintain the readiness of federal, state, local and private-sector officials and facility operators. We welcome the opportunity to work with key organizations like those in Hawaii to ensure effective planning, communication and response coordination,” Deputy Energy Undersecretary Steven Aoki said in a statement. “NNSA’s investments in nuclear security provide the unique technical knowledge and capabilities that help protect our country against terrorist attacks.”

Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) added: “At my request, the Government Accountability Office recently reported that radiological materials in U.S. hospitals are alarmingly vulnerable to theft (see GSN, March 30). However, NNSA has successfully worked with partners in Hawaii to complete security enhancements on all high-priority radiological materials in the state."

“Hawaii is now safer, and I am pleased that federal and local officials are continuing training and drills, like these counterterrorism exercises, to ensure that responders are well prepared to handle radiological threats," Akaka said. "NNSA’s successful progress in Hawaii is a great model for securing all high-risk sites nationwide” (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration release, March 29).

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