GOHSEP leads nuclear prevention exercise on Mississippi River

BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) - The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness led a nuclear prevention exercise Wednesday near the Port of Baton Rouge.

The "Operation Great River" exercise focused on preventative radiological and nuclear detection.

"There's a tremendous pathway to get into the state of Louisiana,"  Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Capt. Eddie Skena said. "We are testing our ability to detect this illicit material and prevent a disaster from happening to Louisiana citizens."

The exercise tested and evaluated several agencies in the areas of tactics, communications, source detection and identification and their ability to obtain products, services and materials. 

There was federal, state and local participation from GOHSEP, Louisiana Fusion Center, Louisiana State Police, Joint Task Force-7, the Louisiana National Guard 62nd Civil Support Team, the Department of Homeland Security Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Savannah River National Laboratory and the Department of Energy- Radiological Assistance Program.

"We are in a full-scale exercise with GOHSEP and other partners to test our equipment, to test our communications, to test our inner operability between agencies and to make sure we have every piece in place to take care of any threat that may come in the port area," West Feliciana Sheriff's Office Capt. Brian Spillman said.

Officials tout the the importance of the Mississippi River for Louisiana agriculture, economy, and trade.

“The Mississippi River is critical for our agricultural, energy and trade-related industries,” said GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom in an official release.  “It is important to have collaboration from each level of government should we face this type of emergency.”

Since Louisiana is main hub for commercial barge transport in and out of the United States, officials said these safety exercises are key.
 


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