Emergency Radiological Response Metrology Infrastructure

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Objective for MPD E.1.1

  • Develop the metrology infrastructure for the national network of radiological analytical laboratories under ICLN by improving its capabilities for responding to RDD/IND incidents as well as accidental releases of radionuclides.

Background: The Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-9 on Defense of the United States Agriculture and Food (30 January 2004) called for the development of integrated national laboratory networks for measuring and assessing food, animal, plant and water quality. Both federal and state resources were to be interconnected and harmonized with standard diagnostic protocols and analytical procedures.

In June 2005, the EPA, USDA, DOD, DHS, DOC, DHHS, DOI, DOJ and DOS signed a Memorandum of Agreement for an Integrated Consortium of Laboratory Networks (ICLN). This established the framework for a multi-agency, national laboratory capability that focuses a coordinated response to accidental or deliberate incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents. The ICLN consists of five major laboratory networks, covering environmental, air, food, water, plant, animal and health domains, as well as the federal systems designated with responsibility for laboratory preparedness and response. With emphasis on both surveillance and operational readiness, each agency is mandated to develop the necessary emergency response network that will look after the safety of responders and population, evaluate the quality of air, food, water and environment, and contribute to the maintenance of civic order. With respect to radiological resources, it requires augmentation and upgrading of existing laboratory facilities for handling non-routine radionuclides and newly relevant matrices, developing rapid methods, and planning for surge capabilities.

The specific agencies have critical roles in ensuring the success of the ICLN in formulating its concerted radiological response effort. A realistic assessment of the present situation indicates that the different agencies have progressed unevenly; furthermore, there are very prominent gaps in the capabilities throughout the ICLN that need to be addressed. A few examples may be cited here.

Action Items:

1. Promote formulation of a consensus standard within ICLN on acceptance criteria for consequence management of radiological incidents.

2. Support development of criteria for and implementation of performance testing exercises to evaluate response capabilities and competence of networks and their laboratories. 3. Advocate the development and validation testing of streamlined, rapid radioanalytical screening methods and procedures.

4. Collect existing methods into a readily accessible, easily searchable radioanalytical emergency procedures manual database (REPMD) to assist networks and their laboratories in selecting appropriate radiological methodologies (e.g., fast screening and analytical methods).

5. Query the radioanalytical community for suggestions about new certified reference materials (radionuclides and matrices) needed for testing the various laboratory networks’ response to realistic emergency conditions and samples.

6. In the near future, use newly developed certified reference materials to establish traceability links to NIST by way of routine and emergency performance testing exercises.

Resource Requirements:

1 – Develop consensus performance standard for CM radioanalytical laboratories - $600k first year, $200k/yr for next 4 years.

2 – An appropriate radioanalytical methods database server, software and computer services for the first year of developing the database - $500k for two years.

3 – Ongoing support by computer services - $100 000 annually.

4 – Full-time staff for program administration - $300 000 annually.

5 – Traceable performance and readiness testing program - $630k annually.

6 – Rapid radioanalytical methods development and validation - $200k/yr.

Total: $ 2.33M for two year, $ 1.43M subsequent years.