What kinds of experts and equipment does the EPA’s radiation protection program have to support a radiological emergency response effort?
The EPA is a member of several interdisciplinary radiological emergency response teams. Any one of these teams can be called upon to support a radiological emergency. Some of these teams are listed below.
- Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center (FRMAC): During a major radiological emergency, the FRMAC is the control point for federal assets involved in monitoring the potential impacts of the incident, including specialized equipment, emergency response personnel, and scientific experts. By providing environmental radiological data to emergency responders, the FRMAC assists state, local and tribal governments in their mission to protect the health and well-being of their citizens. The EPA may support the FRMAC by providing field teams to collect environmental monitoring data, supplying data from the EPA’s RadNet monitoring data and providing radiation experts to the Federal response. The Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for establishing the FRMAC. As the response starts to focus on long-term environmental cleanup, the EPA takes over FRMAC leadership.
- The Advisory Team for Environment, Food and Health (Advisory Team): The Advisory Team is comprised of radiation experts from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During a radiological emergency, the Advisory Team can provide radiation guidance to state, local and tribal response organizations. This can include guidance on evacuation, relocation, worker safety, food and water safety, medical intervention, human health impact, animal health impacts, crop management, environmental assessment through monitoring and sampling, and waste management. Beyond providing technical guidance, the Advisory Team works with the data collected by the FRMAC to interpret the EPA’s Protective Action Guide (PAG) Manual for a specific incident.
- The Radiological Emergency Response Team (RERT): The RERT is a team of multidisciplinary, specially-trained staff from across the EPA. The team provides critical scientific and technical expertise to complement other government services during radiological emergencies. The RERT responds to emergencies that can range from incidents at nuclear power plants, to transportation incidents involving shipments of radioactive materials, to deliberate acts of nuclear terrorism. During an emergency, the RERT provides monitoring and data analysis services such as specialized scanning and monitoring equipment. The EPA has the capability to deploy mobile incident command post and mobile radiation monitoring lab to manage and monitor the situation wherever it may occur. The team can be reached at any time through the National Response Center.
- RadNet: The EPA’s nationwide RadNet system monitors the nation's air, precipitation and drinking water to track radiation in the environment. Over time, RadNet sample testing and monitoring results show the fluctuations in normal background levels of environmental radiation. RadNet has 140 air monitors in 50 states and runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week collecting near-real-time measurements of gamma radiation. For more information about near-real-time air monitoring, visit Learn About RadNet.