ARL and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Sign Memorandum of Understanding

August, 2015

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory with the purpose of allowing both parties to collaborate on research related to atmospheric transport and dispersion (ATD) of radiological contaminants. In particular, ARL will provide the NRC with its Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) dispersion model. The NRC will integrate HYSPLIT code into it’s MELCOR Accident Consequences Code System (MACCS) which is used by domestic and international organizations to assess potential consequences of severe nuclear reactor accidents involving the release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere. MACCS models atmospheric transport and deposition, emergency response actions, exposure pathways, health effects, and economic costs. Currently MACCS uses a traditional Gaussian plume segment model, and the NRC seeks to incorporate HYSPLIT as an alternative ATD model for use in MACCS. The NRC will provide feedback to ARL on HYSPLIT’s radiological capabilities.

Background: ARL has over sixty-five years of research and development expertise in atmospheric transport and dispersion of harmful materials. The HYSPLIT model is a highly-valued tool that helps track and forecast the release and transport of radioactive material, as well as volcanic ash, wildfire smoke, and other pollutants from various emission sources. In 2014, ARL provided a training session on HYSPLIT for the NRC, stimulating the development of the MOU.

Significance: The accidental or intentional release of nuclear agents (as well as chemical and biological agents) can have significant health, safety, national security, economic, and ecological implications. NOAA is tasked with providing the Nation environmental forecasts, warnings, data, and expertise critical to public safety, disaster preparedness, all- hazards response and recovery, the national transportation system, safe navigation, and the protection of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and natural resources. ARL’s HYSPLIT model is an essential tool used by decision-makers and the research community to improve prediction of how, where, and when radioactive materials are atmospherically transported and deposited.

For More Information, contact: Glenn Rolph