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CTOS Staff Assists with Radiological Emergency Response in Japan


July 2014

Many of the CTOS team’s instructors and curriculum developers are subject matter experts in the fields of radiological/nuclear WMD response and prevention. Of these CTOS experts, two are members of the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) Consequence Management Response Team (CMRT) that supported the DOE/NNSA response to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant incident in Japan. The CMRT is always ready to deploy within two hours of notification and has the skills, expertise, and equipment to help assess, survey, monitor, and sample areas for radiation and radioactive contamination.

In the NewsOn March 14, 2011, CTOS instructor Latrelle “Smitty” Smith was training responders attending the PER-241 WMD Radiological/Nuclear Course for Hazardous Materials Technicians at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) when he got the call. Later that day, he, along with 32 other experts, boarded an U.S. Air Force C-17 transport aircraft at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) and headed for Japan. 

As a member of the Consequence Management Home Team (CMHT) that remained in the U.S., CTOS Curriculum Development scientist Dave Colton analyzed aerial radiological survey data collected by the team in Japan. The CMRT used the DOE/NNSA’s Aerial Measuring System (AMS) suite of sophisticated radiation sensors mounted in aircraft and helicopters to survey wide areas and determine the radiation dose rates and radioactive isotope concentrations at ground level. A key mission capability was being able to transmit survey data 24/7 from Japan to the CMHT for detailed analysis. After approval from DOE/NNSA Nuclear Incident Team (NIT), the CMHT distributed these analysis results to all of the key federal agencies involved in the emergency response operation, including the White House. 

In the NewsWorking the graveyard shift in Japan, Smitty used a radioactive isotope identifier to measure the gamma radiation spectra from the radioactive materials in air samples taken by survey teams. This data was transmitted to the CMHT for analysis and incorporation into the survey results. Smitty conducted field checks of instruments for air sampling and radiation dose rate measurements at the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Navy bases. 

Additionally, Smitty trained civilian aircraft maintenance workers on DOE standards for radiological surface contamination, including demonstrations on measuring surface contamination on the aircraft used for aerial surveys. This training increased the confidence level of the workers, allowing them to continue to support the aircraft maintenance effort without fear of health effects due to small doses of radiation. 

As of May 13, the CMRT ground and aerial survey teams conducted more than 507 flight hours for aerial survey operations and collected over 269,500 field measurements and 500 air samples. Smitty and Dave’s contributions during this incident were instrumental in ensuring the success of the mission. They exemplify the professional experience, skill level, and subject matter expertise of the CTOS team that conducts the DHS Response and Prevent Mission training for our nation’s responders. 

To view some of the results of the DOE/NNSA mission, including maps of joint U.S.-Japan aerial surveys and ground surveys, visit: http://energy.gov/situation-japan-updated-12513