IDFA and the Nuclear Energy Institute sponsored a cross-sector workshop last Thursday to review and enhance protocols for information sharing in the event of a radiological emergency affecting food and agriculture in the United States. More than 70 representatives from key federal agencies, state and local governments and the private sector participated in the workshop held in Washington, D.C.
Using a fictional scenario depicting radiological contamination in states with abundant agriculture and livestock, the group discussed current communications procedures and identified gaps that will help each organization to update its standard operating procedures. The participants will test and refine these procedures in a tabletop exercise later this year.
The Department of Homeland Security developed the workshop at the request of the Nuclear Reactors, Materials & Waste and Food & Agriculture Sectors and in coordination their governing councils. IDFA has played a critical role in the Food & Agricultural Sector Coordinating Council, a presidentially mandated partnership between government and the private sector, since its formation 10 years ago. Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs, is the council's co-chair.
"The sector coordinating councils have been absolutely invaluable during the last decade, and the public-private relationships and information sharing are critical to improving our nation's resilience," Detlefsen said. "I came away from this workshop completely reinvigorated and extremely impressed with the collective knowledge in the room. The bottom line is that we will be able to act much more quickly and efficiently should something happen."
In addition to DHS, the participating federal agencies included:
- Customs and Border Patrol,
- Department of Energy,
- Environmental Protection Agency,
- Federal Emergency Management Agency,
- Food and Drug Administration,
- Health and Human Services,
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission and
- U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Representing the private sector, along with IDFA and NEI, were professionals from Clemson University, Dairy Management Inc., Duke Energy, Exelon Nuclear, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Milk Producers Federation, the Pork Board and United Fresh. Emergency response and communications professionals for the state governments of Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi and Virginia also participated.
"We hope to continue the momentum that we built today and continue building relationships as we look forward to the tabletop exercise later this year," said Andrew Mauer, NEI’s senior project manager for fuel and materials safety.
For more information, contact Detlefsen at email@example.com.
Upcoming Crisis Communications Drills
The Dairy Communications Management Team will offer three crisis communications drills that will focus on dairy-specific response to a similar fictional scenario. The initial drill is scheduled for June 5-6 in Washington, D.C. IDFA members are welcome and encouraged to attend. Additional drills will be held in Salt Lake City and Minneapolis later this year.
For more information, contact Peggy Armstrong, IDFA vice president of communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Marti Pupillo, IDFA director of communications at email@example.com.