To conduct the most realistic performance-based radiological/nuclear WMD counterterrorism training possible, CTOS conducts resident training courses at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). The NNSS is a massive outdoor laboratory, national experimental center, and training facility located 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Originally established for testing nuclear weapons, from 1951 to 1992, 1,021 nuclear detonations and numerous radiological dispersal tests have been executed at the NNSS.
Since the 1950s, the NNSS has been conducting training and exercises using radioactive materials and contaminated environments. The rich nuclear testing history of the NNSS offers dynamic training opportunities today. The 1,375 square miles of secluded and secure land at the NNSS provide a safe environment for training in realistic WMD scenarios.
In 1955, the Federal Civil Defense Administration constructed a small town at the T-1 Site. The town included houses and bungalows built to various building codes, electric power systems, a radio broadcasting station, weigh station, propane tank farm, vehicles, fire equipment, food supplies, and other items used for the test. In a nationally televised event on May 5, 1955, this community was devastated by a 29-kiloton nuclear detonation in order to evaluate the effects of a nuclear explosion on civilian communities and test the emergency response capabilities of Civil Defense organizations. 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. Adding to the realism, radioactive debris created during the nuclear detonations, such as twisted steel fragments and sand melted into radioactive glass (trinity glass or trinitite), is still scattered throughout the T-1 Site. Industrial, sealed radioactive sources are also placed in exercise areas to create elevated radiation levels and the realistic training venues needed for training objectives.
After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the CTOS training program converted the T-1 Site at NNSS into a training center demonstrating an American community attacked by terrorists using an IND or multiple RDDs. Completed in 2004, the T-1 Site is once again being used to prepare the country to respond to and mitigate the effects of a nuclear attack. The Radiological/Nuclear WMD Incident Exercise Site (T-1 Site) at the NNSS covers approximately 40 acres allowing over 100 emergency responders to participate simultaneously.