DNN’s Office of Global Material Security (GMS) and the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) concluded a three-day workshop in November 2015 on the security of the global maritime supply chain at the Wilton Park Conference Centre in the United Kingdom. Fifty participants from 15 countries and 9 international organizations developed recommendations and shared best practices for effectively deterring, detecting, and responding to trafficking of nuclear and radiological materials out of regulatory control (MORC). The participants represented a broad range of stakeholders, including policy organizations, detection operations agencies, regulatory authorities, regional and international organizations, and major terminal operators.
At the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, 13 countries signed a joint statement recognizing the importance of a national-level approach to combat the illicit transfer of MORC using the global maritime shipping system. In addition to pledging a deeper commitment to detection and removal of MORC, the signatories of the joint statement committed to participate in November’s workshop, which sought to identify best practices and actionable recommendations for permanently removing MORC from the maritime supply chain. The outcomes of the workshop were captured in a follow-on joint statement (co-drafted by GMS and DECC) to be presented at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC. DNN and DECC are also preparing a best practices guide that will be shared with the workshop participants and will be made publicly available. The joint statement and the best practices guide will provide a framework for follow-on actions aimed at addressing this issue.
The interactive workshop consisted of panelists, speakers, and exercise breakout group sessions, which allowed participants to develop key findings, best practices, and recommendations. The workshop participants reconfirmed that detection systems are one important tool in a nation’s approach to combatting nuclear and radiological smuggling. Participants further agreed to the importance of both longterm planning to sustain detection systems and a comprehensive “end-to-end” regulatory framework for all those involved in detecting and responding to MORC. Participants discussed best practices, including regular training and routine exercises of systems to verify that relevant stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities and maintain a state of readiness. Additionally, the workshop yielded recommendations for the international community to seek opportunities to further share information and develop better technical and operational solutions to reduce the high rate of innocent, naturally occurring radioactive material (“NORM”) alarms. These alarms have a negative impact on commerce and detract resources from detecting materials of concern.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, represented by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), made significant contributions to the workshop. DNDO provided subject matter expertise in exercise design and development, and the Director of DNDO, Dr. Huban Gowadia, participated in a panel discussion on the benefits and challenges to radiation detection programs. CBP also provided subject matter expertise to the workshop content, shared the agency’s lessons learned and best practices for operating and sustaining their detection program, and presented case studies of different types of detections. Best practices and recommendations from the workshop will serve to further enhance collaboration in the area of global maritime supply chain area security and will be formally presented at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.
See the related press release at http://nnsa.energy.gov/ mediaroom/pressreleases/nnsa-co-hosts-nuclear-security-summitworkshop-maritime-security-uk.
Kaitlin Oujo is an NNSA Graduate Fellow in the GMS Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence. She recently completed a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.