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NNSA officials take part in the annual Nuclear Energy Disaster Prevention Drill in Shimane, Japan.
NNSA officials take part in the annual Nuclear Energy Disaster Prevention Drill in Shimane, Japan.

NNSA recently joined experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as seven other countries to observe and participate in the annual Nuclear Energy Disaster Prevention Drill in Shimane, Japan.

The drill, one of Japan’s largest annual nuclear disaster exercises, consisted of three days of field activity followed by a half-day discussion about lessons learned.

“This annual exercise is an extraordinary opportunity to see first-hand how Japan practices response to radiological and nuclear emergencies and involves people at all levels, from the Prime Minister down to local community members,” said Ann Heinrich, Director of the Office of Nuclear Incident Policy and Cooperation. “This type of exchange allows U.S. and international experts to learn from and share experiences with some of our most important foreign partners.”

The scenario involved a major earthquake resulting in an accident and radiological release at the Shimane Nuclear Power Station. The group of government officials traveled to 11 different venues to observe Japanese efforts for responding to the incident, including emergency operations centers, medical facilities, community relocation centers, screening and decontamination areas, and the nuclear power plant.

 

Participants in the annual Nuclear Energy Disaster Prevention Drill in Shimane, Japan.
Participants in the annual Nuclear Energy Disaster Prevention Drill in Shimane, Japan.

By witnessing Japan’s plans, procedures, and capabilities in action, the U.S. delegation gained new and valuable insight into Japan’s strengths and challenges, while also discovering ways to improve U.S. approaches to managing nuclear and radiological incidents.

This activity fulfilled a joint commitment under the Emergency Management Working Group (EMWG) of the U.S.-Japan Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation, strengthened our relationship with new and existing Japanese partners, and paved the way for additional collaboration, including workshops and technical exchanges already planned for 2020.

The EMWG was established in 2012 following Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident. The group brings together nuclear incident preparedness and response experts from across both governments’ agencies for strategic dialogue, sharing of best practices and lessons learned, and technical exchanges.

NNSA representatives observe exercise activities at a local hospital in Shimane, Japan.
NNSA representatives observe exercise activities at a local hospital in Shimane, Japan.