Health Physics Support to the Special Medical Augmentation Response Team - Preventive Medicine (Smart-Pm) in Response to the Terrorist Attack Against the Pentagon on September 11, 2001


R. A. Reyes, M. A. Melanson, D. P. Alberth


Among the first responders to the attack at the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 was the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (USACHPPM) SMART-PM team. Once cleared for entry into the incident site, the health physics component of the team did a series of external radiation surveys using the beta/gamma, x-ray, and pancake probes of the Army's AN/PDR-77 radiation detection instrumentation. The surveyed areas included the outside perimeter, including the heliport and crash site between corridors 4 and 5, and the inner-patio (the open courtyard inside the rings of the building). A scanning survey was performed down the main corridors and static measurements were taken on every floor. A surface contamination survey was conducted on approximately 80% of the aircraft evidence and personal items collected by the FBI. Among other places, ventilation systems, air inlet and outlet vents, and water fountains located along all floors in corridors 2, 3, and 7 were also surveyed. Some wipe samples from these areas were collected and sent to the laboratory to be screened with a gamma spectroscopy system for identification of radionuclides. A parallel investigation took place by a reach-back team about the potential presence of radiological sources on the aircraft. All surveys performed outside and inside the Pentagon building indicated that there were no ionizing radiation levels above natural background. Gamma screening of collected samples indicated that there were no identifiable radionuclides, other than those found in the natural background. Based on survey results and communications with aircraft manufacturer, the team concluded that there was no radiological threat associated with this incident.


This abstract was presented at the 36th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Radiation Safety Aspects of Homeland Security and Emergency Response", Poster Session, 1/26/2003 - 1/29/2003, held in San Antonio, TX.

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