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NNSS logoCounterterrorism Operations Support (CTOS)
Center for Radiological/Nuclear Training

Come to Nevada to experience the best preparation possible for First Responders in a WMD event. Originally established for testing nuclear weapons, today the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), located northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada provides First Responder CBRNE Training in unique, authentic, and safe WMD venues using realistic training scenarios. The NNSS is the ONLY place for First Responders to experience an actual WMD environment! This training prepares the responders to take immediate, decisive action to prevent or mitigate terrorist use of radiological or nuclear WMDs, such as Improvised Nuclear Devices (INDs) and Radiological Dispersal Devices (RDDs or “dirty bombs”).


Training courses and exercises conducted at the NNSS, municipality-hosted locations, and online, provide state and local first responders with the tools they need to protect their communities from these threats. With FEMA/NPD concurrence, CTOS coordinates the development and delivery of preventive radiological/nuclear detection and interdiction training with the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), the DHS entity charged with this responsibility.

CTOS Courses


WMD Incident Exercise Site (T-1 Site)

The NNSS Radiological/Nuclear WMD Incident Exercise Site (T-1 Site) is like no other training ground in the United States. Four nuclear devices were detonated at this location between 1952 and 1957, and the small amount of nuclear fallout remaining from these detonations is now below the surface of the soil, providing a realistic and safe training area today. The soil emits low levels of radiation, simulating widespread radiological contamination from an IND or multiple RDDs, yet posing minimal risk to participants. Adding to the realism, radioactive debris, such as twisted steel fragments and sand melted into radioactive glass (trinity glass or trinitite), are still scattered throughout the T-1 Site. Industrial, sealed radioactive sources are also placed in exercise areas to create higher levels of radiation as needed for training objectives. The T-1 Site has more than 10 acres of exercise venues with elevated radiation levels, thus allowing over 100 emergency responders to participate simultaneously.


Actual Radioactive Material

With the exception of awareness-level and online courses, all courses are “live agent,” using radioactive material. These courses are designed and monitored so attendees receive only minor radiation dosages (lower than a chest X-ray or a typical round-trip airline flight across the U.S.); however, radiation levels are sufficient to practice techniques needed in a real incident involving much higher levels. Each attendee operates and employs radiation detection and measurement instruments throughout the course. Attendees practice with radioactive material in the classroom, and during drills and exercise scenarios. The NNSS exercise areas can be configured in thousands of square feet at elevated radiation levels.





The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) is a member of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC). Counterterrorism Operations Support (CTOS) – Center for Radiological/Nuclear Training at the Nevada National Security Site develops and conducts training courses for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Preparedness Directorate (NPD), National Training and Education Division (NTED), Training Operations within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Its continuing role is to provide expertise and training to the state and local emergency response community. The NDPC was formed in 1998 as partnership of several nationally recognized public universities, the DHS, and NNSA. The members are bound together into a single, well-coordinated, and fully integrated weapons of mass destruction (WMD) response and prevention training program of the highest caliber.


Nevada National Security Site

NNSA mapA unique national resource, the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) formerly known as the Nevada Test Site, is a massive outdoor laboratory and national experimental center that cannot be duplicated. Larger than the state of Rhode Island, approximately 1,375 square miles, the NNSS is one of the largest restricted access areas in the United States.


The remote site is surrounded by thousands of additional acres of land withdrawn from the public domain for use as a protected wildlife range and for a military gunnery range, creating an unpopulated land area comprising some 5,470 square miles.


Established as the Atomic Energy Commission's on-continent proving ground, the NNSS has seen more than four decades of nuclear weapons testing. Since the nuclear weapons testing moratorium in 1992 and under the direction of the DOE, NNSS use has diversified into many other programs such as hazardous chemical spill testing, emergency response training, conventional weapons testing, and waste management and environmental technology studies.


For more information on the Nevada National Security Site, please visit the website at: