Federal, state and local agencies last week responded to a simulated attempt by extremists to seize radioactive cobalt from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for use in a radiological “dirty bomb,” the Boston Globe reported. The FBI and Energy Department coordinated the unpublicized exercise, which involved medical and fire personnel as well as state, city and campus police. The effort was part of the “Silent Thunder” series of drills, which focuses on responses by multiple levels of government to threats involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. Government sources refused to discuss difficulties that might have emerged in the drill, which addressed possible means of preventing would-be thieves from obtaining dirty-bomb ingredients as well as potential government responses to an attack involving radiological material or a different type of unconventional weapon. “Exercises of this type are valuable tools for enhancing coordination among the various organizations involved in response management,” the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory head said.

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