By supporting State and local agencies the Radiological Program protects the health and safety of Louisiana citizens from hazards associated with the misuse or improper handling of radioactive materials. Planning, training, exercises, equipment support, and subject matter expertise are key areas in which GOHSEP supports key stakeholders in protecting the public.
While the Radiological Program supports preparedness for and prevention of all radiological hazards, three specific areas of focus have been identified.
Nuclear Power Plants
Since the Three Mile Island incident in 1979 there have been extensive developments in nuclear safety both from an operational and emergency response standpoint. The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness assists the Department of Environmental Quality and other State and local agencies plan and prepare for the extremely remote chance that radiological control is lost at once of the nuclear power plants in or near Louisiana.
Louisiana hosts the River Bend Station and the Waterford 3 Steam Electric Station nuclear power plants, and Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, in Port Gibson, MS, sits two miles away from the State. GOHSEP assists in planning, training, and equipment support with State and local jurisdictions within the 10-mile and 50-mile emergency planning zones surrounding each of these plants.
FEMA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission evaluates the readiness of the entire response community around these nuclear power plants biennially with full-scale exercises. GOHSEP activates the State Emergency Operations Center for these evaluations allowing all the State's Emergency Support Functions to be exercised, ensuring that emergency responders at all levels of jurisdiction and responsibility are prepared to protect the citizens of Louisiana.
Ready.gov Public Information on Nuclear Power Plants
Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)
In 1999 the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) opened as a repository in New Mexico for certain types of radiological waste. Shipments heading to the WIPP are occasionally routed across northern Louisiana. Ensuring that these shipments arrive at the WIPP safely is a mission shared by Federal, State, local and tribal governments. With over 15 years of operation and thousands of completed shipments, there has never been an incident with a WIPP shipment resulting in any radiological risk to the public thanks to the excellent training, practices, and robust packaging used for the WIPP project.
GOHSEP supports the safe conveyance of WIPP shipments across Louisiana by providing local jurisdictions with the planning, training, and equipment necessary to effectively respond to any potential incident along the WIPP route. GOHSEP has facilitated multiple full-scale WIPP TRaining EXercises (WIPPTREX) along the WIPP shipping route to demonstrate both the readiness of first responders and the state's capability to support a response while interfacing with federal stakeholders.
Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Official Website
Preventive Radiological Nuclear Detection (PRND)
The Louisiana Preventive Radiological/Nuclear Detection Program is a state-wide effort to deter, detect, and report the hazardous handling and/or unauthorized attempts to import, possess, store, develop, or transport illicit radiological/nuclear material within the State. Developed by the Louisiana PRND Executive Steering Committee with the aid of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, this program seeks to protect the safety of the public from both maritime and land-based radiological hazard.
Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, Official Website