A major gap in the Nation's preparedness against food terrorism is the lack of a comprehensive State-based radiological testing capability and capacity needed to identify, screen, and monitor radiological contamination of infrastructures, foods, water supplies, and humans following such events as a dirty bomb, a nuclear plant accident, or sabotage. Maryland presents significant challenges for food protection with an intimate mix of urban and rural environments and activities. Maryland is a major agricultural state and harvester of aquatic tissues. The Chesapeake Bay is a major State asset and a significant source of seafood. The Bay is home to the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power plant and is downstream from both the Three Mile Island and Peach Bottom plants located on the Susquehanna River. It is home to a number of military installations. Maryland is home to one of the largest ports in the Nation and, by surrounding the District of Columbia on three sides, includes a major portion of the National Capital Region. Five nuclear power plants are found close to the State's borders. A sixth nuclear plant is currently the subject of potential expansion. In addition, there are six research reactors within the State located such as at NIST and DoD. The Maryland Radiation Laboratory, like other state public health laboratories, has received comprehensive access through previous cooperative agreements, to the resources needed to develop and expand its capabilities and capacities in environmental radiological food defense and safety. By this application, the laboratory proposes to further develop and maintain a comprehensive environmental radiological food defense and safety program through: (1) improve performance and throughput of sample preparation procedures and instrumental analysis for counting, screening, and identification of radionuclides;(2) make available to Maryland, the National Capital Region, and the nation, routine and surge capacity;(3) maintain expertise and proficiency of the staff;(4) promote and foster partnerships with FDA, USDA, and other laboratories;(5) continue to develop methods for use and technology transfer to other FERN laboratories;(6) actively participate in emergency response exercises;and (7) coordinate efforts to redress any issues identified during the MENU2010 exercise. Food defense is not only important in public health but has significant economic value and impact on food-related industries and thus on the US economy. The Maryland Division of Environmental Chemistry proposes to carry out this project with a requested federal budget of $1,250,000 over 5 years.
The Maryland's Division of Environmental Chemistry proposes to develop and maintain a comprehensive environmental radiological defense and safety surveillance monitoring program for testing foodstuffs. By this application, this Cooperative Agreement will be used to enhance capability and capacity to respond to food radiological incidents and provide continuing surveillance through improving methods performance and technology transfer, staff proficiency, partnerships, and future exercises.