State Conducts Dirty Bombing Training in Richland - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

State Conducts Dirty Bombing Training in Richland

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RICHLAND, Wash. - The State of Washington is preparing to respond to an act of terrorism. A combination of local, state and federal agencies are learning how to handle a radioactive bomb.

The United States faces threats today that didn't exist before.

Take this five gallon bucket for example. You can use it to store paint, or potting soil, but as you're about to see - if you fill it full of ammonium nitrate it becomes a deadly weapon.

"Fire in the hole... BOOM!"

You see the blast, then hear the boom.

It's no ordinary training, it's an explosive test, State of Washington representatives claim we desperately need.

"It's not if, it's when. We need to be prepared," said Gary Robertson, WA Dept. of Health, Director of Radiation Protection.   

Wednesday, the Department of Health, Department of Energy, the U.S. National Guard, fire fighters and local police officers gathered in Richland to learn how to respond to a radioactive bomb.

The state volunteered for the testing five years ago and realized then we weren't ready for a real attack.

"We had 100 actors at the scene that were injured. By the time they got out of the incident scene they all perished," said Robertson.   

So now responders are learning to balance saving lives, and saving evidence. It's a new idea for the country as well as local experts trained in radioactive chemicals.

"We have specific training to our particular job, but this is to understand how each other works and to be able to communicate and operate as one unit, even though we're from different agencies," said Rob Yasek, WA Dept. of Energy.    

As of now 3,000 emergency workers are ready to respond to a dirty bomb. But state officials said they still need to train 100,00 more.

Wednesday's responders will work around the clock gathering evidence, and treating patients. But it will be another two days before we learn how well our area reacted.