Strengthening national response to CBRN incidents: IGSU field exercise

Between March 27 and 29, 2024, the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (IGSU) is conducting a field exercise aimed at enhancing national authorities’ capabilities for cooperation and response to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) incidents and accidents. The exercise has been organized as part of the “CBRN Preparedness Programme (C2)” under the auspices of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) of the US Department of Defense and implemented in partnership with the US European Command.

The launch event was attended by the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, representatives from the European Command, DTRA and WHO, National Public Health Agency of the Ministry of Health, and IGSU leadership.

During his address, the head of the Inspectorate, Colonel Oprea, emphasized the adverse environmental impact and high casualty rates associated with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear accidents. He underscored the importance of developing intervention capabilities to effectively manage crises and expressed gratitude to the US partners for their dedication and persistence in training authorities responsible for responding to CBRN accidents. He also acknowledged the productive five-year cooperation, resulting in carrying out this and other joint exercises.

Secretary of State Jana Costachi highlighted the significance of inter-institutional exercises in training frontline personnel. She noted that, through 18 exercises organized over five years within this project, involving the training of 50 IGSU employees, there is now potential to sustain such training efforts internally. Furthermore, she expressed gratitude to partners for investing USD 1.2 million in acquiring necessary equipment for the programme.

According to Jordan M. Seymour, Staff Officer at DTRA, this exercise marks the culmination of events and training conducted over the five-year project, with a total investment of US$ 6 million. He emphasized that the project enhanced the capabilities of the CBRN team to respond effectively to the consequences of CBRN accidents, with the primary goal of saving lives and ensuring stability in Moldova.

The overarching objective of the exercise is to bolster Moldova’s national capacity to address the impacts of CBRN incidents and accidents and illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological materials.

As per the scenario, both national and international crisis management institutions will participate in simulated CBRN accident scenarios for consequence management.

The exercise will also involve practicing legal protocols for handling chemical/radiological incidents and assessing the efficacy of Standard Operating Procedures for CBRN accidents.

The field exercise will conclude with a workshop evaluating the communication, coordination, management, and response capabilities of national authorities in addressing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents.

Over the five-year period (2019-2023), the CBRN training program (C2) conducted 18 training courses, in the country and abroad, training over 50 IGSU employees (including 15 trainers) in effective CBRN incident management, use of personal protective equipment, CBRN research and mass decontamination procedures. Additionally, the Defense and Threat Reduction Agency provided CBRN equipment in the amount of about USD 1 million and CBRN vehicles in the amount of about USD 204.7 thousand as assistance to IGSU.

The Support from US partners has enhanced the capabilities of IGSU personnel in addressing CBRN threats. Equipped with these skills, IGSU specialists are now better prepared to handle exceptional situations arising from CBRN incidents and can share their knowledge with other Ministry of Internal Affairs employees as trainers.