National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA highlights 40 Years of the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center

March 28, 2019

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Global resource at Lawrence Livermore Lab in California celebrates decades of excellence in emergency response

WASHINGTON – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) today marked the 40th anniversary of the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California.

NARAC is the premiere resource for near-real-time computer predictions of the spread of hazardous airborne materials.  Decision-makers and emergency managers around the globe use this predictive capability to protect lives, mitigate consequences, and inform responders.

“NARAC is a key component of NNSA’s emergency response capability and often provides the first estimation of a potential radiological hazard’s extent,” said Jay A. Tilden, NNSA’s Associate Administrator and Deputy Under Secretary for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation.  “I congratulate everyone at NARAC for their invaluable contributions in evolving NARAC to meet our nuclear security mission over the last four decades.”

The center was established in 1979 when a newly-developed modeling system was used to help guide the response to the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant incident.  Predictions generated at LLNL guided federal and state measurement teams as they worked to determine the impact of the radiological material release.

This vital capability was also employed for the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine (then part of the former Soviet Union) and the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan.  It has also been put to use in numerous other emergency responses and emergency exercises.

The Fukushima emergency response effort was the largest in NNSA history with teams working around the clock for over two months to help the U.S. Government and the Government of Japan make informed decisions to protect citizens from potential radiation exposure.

NNSA's emergency response assets are trained and prepared to protect the public health and safety, and to advise emergency responders from both terrorist and non-terrorist events by providing a responsive, flexible, and effective radiological emergency response framework and capability for the nation. This mission is accomplished by applying NNSA’s unique technical expertise residing within the National Laboratories, plants, and sites.

Learn more about NNSA’s emergency response assets.