Annual Exercise an earth-shaking activity

By Sue Major Holmes

Photography By Lindsey Kibler

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Annual exercise event

For more images from Sandia's annual emergency training exercise, go here.

More than 100 employees from across the Labs participated Oct. 14 in the 2015 Emergency Management full-scale exercise at Sandia/New Mexico. Emergency

Management uses the annual event as a self-assessment to verify the effectiveness of its program in accordance with the site’s plans and procedures and the DOE order covering the comprehensive emergency management system.

In this year’s scenario — Dust in the Wind — a 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook the greater Albuquerque area. The epicenter was just south of the Albuquerque International Sunport, causing widespread panic and severe damage within a 20-mile radius. Twenty-three Sandia buildings sustained damage and 37 employees were injured, prompting evacuations and the establishment of the Family Assistance Center. 

In the scenario, the Sandia Pulsed Reactor Facility (SPRF) was accepting three drums from a Radioactive Mixed Waste Management Facility vehicle at the time of

the earthquake. As the exercise played out, one of the drums fell onto a worker and popped its primary and secondary lids, contaminating him. A 13Kv transformer near the transfer site exploded, injuring two more workers.

Emergency response teams were dispatched the area to assess the casualties. One “injured” patient was triaged and sent to the University of New Mexico Hospital, which participated in this year’s exercise to test its contamination procedures. Other outside organizations that took part were the Sandia Field Office, NNSA and DOE headquarters, and Albuquerque Ambulance Service.