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Amber Waves

ORISE coordinates tabletop exercise to help agencies prepare for the threat of dirty bombs

Radiological dispersion devices (RDDs), also known as dirty bombs, are conventional explosives packed with radiological material and designed to cause local contamination and blast damage. This is a threat with the potential to provoke extreme public fear and confusion as officials grapple with the added complexity of a radiological emergency response.

How ORISE is Making a Difference

To help agencies prepare to manage such a threat, ORISE assisted the U.S. Department of Energy in delivering a series of training events designed to foster interagency collaboration among federal, state, and local organizations with stakes in a radiological emergency response. Known as Amber Waves 2012, the exercise events were hosted by the states of Kansas and Missouri. The effort brought together senior level decision makers and all levels of government to concentrate on a variety of functional areas, including incident management, public information, public health, agricultural and environmental impact, and field monitoring management.

By incorporating a senior leadership seminar, Amber Waves provided a rare opportunity for more than 30 high-ranking participants to discuss response plans, policies and procedures relating to the initial “whole community” response to an incident involving multiple RDDs. The whole community focus acknowledges the roles played by private sector, community and faith-based organizations as well as government agencies.

Amber Waves culminated in a tabletop exercise that allowed interagency operational personnel to strategize the initial response phase of a multi-jurisdictional RDD incident, including how state and federal response activities would be integrated into the initial local response. In addition, several specialized technical sessions addressed livestock and feed issues as well as long term environmental considerations.

Amber Waves was the latest event in a series of radiological preparedness exercises that ORISE has developed for DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration. In particular, it builds on the success of Empire 09, a full-scale consequence management exercise carried out in Albany, New York in 2009. Planning is currently underway to a 2013 exercise that will involve DOE/NNSA and the U.S. Department of Defense.