'Dirty Bomb' Test Brings Virginia, Federal Agencies Together

A May 22 exercise in the Hampton Roads, Va., area brought state and federal responders together to simulate their response to a radiological release. The East Coast Initiative/U.S. Coast Guard Hampton Roads Area Maritime Security (ECI/AMSC 08) exercise brought together Virginia’s Office of Commonwealth Preparedness, the U.S. Navy's Center for Asymmetric Warfare, and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Hampton Roads Area Maritime Security Committee to test procedures, resource deployment, and information sharing among the three organizations.

"Exercises at this level help us to learn how our response partners work," said Steve Mondul, deputy assistant to the Virginia governor for Commonwealth Preparedness. "It is important that we find possible gaps in communication now, before there's an emergency." Results will help to validate priorities for Maritime Transportation System recovery, assess Virginia National Guard deployment, improve information sharing, and evaluate ways to reduce security after an incident. The primary purpose of ECI/AMSC 08 was to conduct a weapons of mass destruction exercise for local/state/federal authorities and AMSC members in a maritime environment. The exercise took place at several venues, including the Virginia Fusion Center, Emergency Operations Center in Richmond, and at Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center in Portsmouth.

Participants included the Virginia Fusion Center, Virginia Department of Emergency management, Virginia State Police, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The U.S. Coast Guard’s Hampton Roads Area Maritime Security Committee consists of the Transportation Security Administration, Regional Emergency Management Technical Advisory Committee, Virginia Maritime Association, Hampton Roads Chiefs of Police, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Ports Authority, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Port of Richmond, and the Maritime Administration.

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