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Radiation Emergencies
Emergency Response:

Homeland Security

Emergency Preparedness
and Response

EPA has a long-standing role in hazardous materials and nuclear emergency response. As a result, the Agency is actively involved in the federal program to protect the nation from acts of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear terrorism.

EPA's response team also works with other federal agency Homeland Security organizations to develop a coordinated federal response to domestic terrorism. In addition, EPA participates in high-level interagency planning and coordination meetings and takes part in major cross-agency training exercises.

During the response to a terrorist incident involving radioactive materials, EPA supports the Department of Homeland Security and other federal, state, and local response efforts.

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Who is responsible for coordinating the federal response during a terrorist incident?

Which organization is the Coordinating Federal Agency during a terrorist incident involving radioactive materials depends on who is responsible for the materials involved. If the radioactive materials are owned, operated, or licensed by the Department of Defense, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, or an Agreement State, the response is coordinated by the agency or state responsible for the material.

When none of these governmental organizations is responsible for the material involved in a terrorist incident, the Department of Energy becomes the Federal Coordinating Agency and is in charge of coordinating the initial and intermediate federal radiological response phases.

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What is EPA's role?

EPA provides the same technical support during a response to a terrorist event that potentially or actually involves a radiation release as it does during any other radiological emergency. EPA's Radiological Emergency Response Team assesses health risks, recommends steps to protect public health and the environment, provides technical advice and support, monitors the environment, and analyzes field samples in its laboratories.

In addition, in cases in which no agency or state is responsible for the radioactive materials involved in a terrorist incident, EPA takes over the Coordinating Federal Agency role from DOE for the environmental cleanup and site restoration phases of the response.

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Who coordinates the response organizations within EPA?

EPA's Office of Homeland Security coordinates the numerous offices within the Agency that participate in EPA's Homeland Security efforts.

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Sources of Information on Counter Terrorism

You can find information about U.S. counter terrorism activities on the Radiological Emergency Response Links page.

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