Homeland Security: First Responders' Ability to Detect and Model Hazardous Releases in Urban Areas Is Significantly Limited, Report to Congressional Requesters   [open pdf - 1MB]

"First responders are responsible for responding to terrorist-related and accidental releases of CBRN materials in urban areas. Two primary tools for identifying agents released and their dispersion and effect are equipment to detect and identify CBRN agents in the environment and plume models to track the dispersion of airborne releases of these agents. GAO reports on the limitations of the CBRN detection equipment, its performance standards and capabilities testing, plume models available for tracking urban dispersion of CBRN materials, and information for determining how exposure to CBRN materials affects urban populations. To assess the limitations of CBRN detection equipment and urban plume modeling for first responders' use, GAO met with and obtained data from agency officials and first responders in three states. The Secretary of Homeland Security should reach agreement with agencies on who will have the mission and responsibility to develop, certify, and independently test first responders' equipment for detecting hazardous material releases, ensure testing and validation of manufacturers' claims about CBRN detection equipment's sensitivity and specificity, refine IMAAC's procedures for addressing contradictory modeling predictions in CBRN events, with IMAAC, work with the federal plume modeling community to accelerate R&D on model deficiencies in urban areas and improve federal modeling and assessment capabilities."

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Government Accountability Office (GAO): http://www.gao.gov/
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Listed on July 2, 2008 [Critical Releases]