Multiple Agencies Conduct 'Dirty Bomb' Drill on Water

Department of Environmental Conservation officers were at a command post Thursday at the Stony Brook Southampton Campus for a joint law enforcement exercise focusing on radiological threats. N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation

More than 20 local, state, and federal agencies and East End police departments began a "dirty bomb" interdiction exercise in Gardiner's Bay on Thursday, which will continue through Saturday with safety checks of recreational and commercial boaters.

In a statement from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office, Operation Blue Trident was described as a way to help make sure Long Island's bays and harbors do not provide a "natural sanctuary for potential smuggling of terrorists and/or radiological devices to the New York City metropolitan area."

The participating agencies, including East Hampton Town Marine Patrol and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, have deployed vessels in eastern Long Island waters. Roughly 100 personnel are taking part.

The exercise is not in response to a specific threat, Ed Michels, the chief harbormaster of the Town Marine Patrol, said.

D.E.C. officers working from a temporary command post at Stony Brook University's Southampton Campus, helm the exercise.

It was described as the first of its kind off eastern Long Island and was planned in keeping with the guidelines of the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program, the governor's office said.

The Division of Homeland Security, the Emergency Services Office of Counter Terrorism, New York State police, United States Coast Guard Sector Long Island, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and the National Marine Fisheries Service are participating, as are the New York State Police Department and officers from the Southampton, Southold, Shelter Island and other East End police departments..

"It is a good thing that we work together," Chief Michels said. He explained that the operation was the largest his agency had ever been a part of and that it was an important test of communication systems.

According to Basil Seggos, the D.E.C. commissioner, an initial phase of the exercise took place during the first two weeks of August, focusing on marinas and other shoreline facilities and checking compliance with water protection regulations.

The second phase of the exercise, which began this week, included training in the interception of illicit radiological material, as well as checks of navigational safety, foreign vessel interdiction, and marine fisheries and water quality compliance.

Checks of boaters are to continue through the weekend, the governor's office said, with an eye toward boating-while-impaired enforcement, threats to water quality, such as unsecured marine sanitation devices, threats to fishery stocks, and general navigational safety.

The D.E.C. has coordinated similar joint training exercises on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and, last year, Operation Clear passage on Lake Champlain.

The governor's office also announced that the Division of Homeland Security and the Emergency Services Office of Counter Terrorism would conduct about 70 counter-terrorism exercises on land this week. Law enforcement teams are checking numerous sites and facilities on Long Island, including public gatherings, truck companies, retail stores, and marinas.

In a statement, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. praised the exercise. "At a time of increased risk to New York's security, law enforcement must be prepared for all eventualities. The State D.E.C. is to be commended for spearheading this effort."