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Science Notebook: Radiation Emergency Response – From the Field

2009 April 3

About the author: Gregg Dempsey is an EPA Radiological Emergency Response Team commander and has been with EPA more than 21 years. His job involves being an internal consultant to EPA on radiation issues and being a field response person for radiation emergencies.

image of author pointing to flowchartIf you’ve ever worried about some of the strange new terms that have been in the media since September 11, 2001, like ‘dirty bomb’, ‘radiation dispersal device’ and ‘improvised nuclear device’, you’re not alone. I worry about them too. But my worry is probably a little different than yours; I am part of a group of people who might have to monitor and cleanup the radiation from these types of events.

EPA deals with small radiation problems across the country all the time. They range from transportation accidents to cleanup at abandoned facilities. We work well with our state and local counterparts, and other Federal agencies to get the job done and remove dangerous radiation from our environment.

The smaller problems turn out to be mostly local issues, but they provide valuable lessons for larger accidents and incidents. You learn just how complicated measuring radiation can be, and how complicated it is to determine when you must act and when you might not need to act. Everyone agrees that high levels of radiation exposure are dangerous. It’s the lower levels that spark a huge debate. The debate ranges from questions such as ‘is my health at risk?’, ‘do we leave it here or must we clean it up?’ or ‘are these low levels still a danger?’ Depending on who you talk to, the answers are quite different. In my job, I try to help answer these questions.

I am unfortunately fortunate; I’ve been to and worked at a vast number of radiation cleanup sites across the United States, and I’ve participated in so many emergency response exercises that I’ve lost count. I’ve also been up close and personal at the Chernobyl accident site in Ukraine several times, and I have seen the devastation of wide spread contamination in the environment and how that accident affected its citizens. I try to bring that experience back to EPA.

The Radiological Emergency Response Team (RERT), of which I am a member, is one of many specialized technical teams in EPA. I’m often asked to provide help and advice on radiation issues in the field. That is, how to prevent, measure, clean up and protect people from needless radiation exposure. We train a lot, we maintain a good response capability, and we help where we can.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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11 Responses leave one →
  1. proje portali permalink
    April 3, 2009

    very nice article

  2. frraheem permalink
    November 28, 2009

    that’s great and fantastic too
    and i would like to thanks to see it here.

  3. hermine permalink
    January 8, 2010

    Came across your blog while doing my usual searching ’round the web. Great Article i found here.
    Thanks for posting about this.

  4. hermine permalink
    January 13, 2010

    There are times when a first responder must treat a patient who has been exposed to or present amid harmful radiation. To aid responders, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued radiation protection guidelines for responding to these emergencies.
    With regards

  5. Anonymous permalink
    January 18, 2010

    The Radiation Division plays a major role in maintaining and implementing the state’s Radiological Emergency Plan and responds to all transportation, industrial and research facility emergencies/incidents involving ionizing radiation.
    with regards

  6. Anonymous permalink
    January 18, 2010

    @doli ,
    All the best :) . Please make sure you read the feedback before. Please be aware that i have not tested it personally , I hope its a working solution. All the best once again.

  7. killeyh permalink
    April 4, 2010

    The Radiation Safety Department oversees authorized radiation use areas in the following WVU Health Sciences Center Buildings:

    1. Health Sciences Center North: Authorized Radioactive Material Research Laboratories
    2. Health Sciences Center South: MRI/PET, Authorized Radioactive Material Research Laboratories and all RSS facilities (waste management facility etc.)
    3. Cancer Center: Radiation Oncology and Authorized Radioactive Material Research Laboratories
    4. Health Sciences North Addition: Authorized Radioactive Material Research Laboratories

  8. micheal permalink
    April 11, 2010

    What is the Basic Steps to Protect ourself and our Family in a Radiation Emergency

    with regrads

  9. herry-nasa permalink
    April 11, 2010

    If a radiation emergency happens near where people live or work, you can take immediate action to protect yourself, your loved ones, and others around you. This kind of emergency could be a dirty bomb or nuclear explosion, a nuclear power plant accident, or a transportation accident. These actions will protect people in a radiation emergency……..

  10. Ameriphysics permalink
    May 18, 2011

    This is very informative. thanks

  11. swami ramdev medicines permalink
    February 3, 2012

    Everybody falls ill and needs medical support to get back to normal life. There have been many types of medical forms and therapies from very old ages. Ayurvedic is one of such ancient forms of medical sciences which started from the Indian subcontinent and made great contributions to the human and animal health. It is based on mountain herbs mostly from Himaliyan ranges; these herbs include Ashwagandha, Karela, Brahmi, Amalki, Lasuna, Neem, Tulasi, and many more. Indian people are working all over the world in a massive number; ayurvedic herbal medicines being the integral part of their life has became a pivotal factor to increase the footprints of this form of medical science.

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