Crews pretend Grand Rapids hit by ‘dirty bomb’ in area-wide emergency exercise

Posted at 8:18 AM, Jun 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-24 08:18:17-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A dirty bomb has been set off in Grand Rapids and emergency crews are scrambling to deal with the damage to people and property. Don’t worry, it’s just pretend.

A days-long emergency exercise dubbed Operation Northern Exposure is underway in Michigan, where emergency crews are put through their paces in various locales to be sure that when real disaster strikes, they’re ready.

Kent County’s assignment is to deal with a so-called dirty bomb, a small-scale nuclear device that could be used in a terrorist attack. In the scenario, the area affected has a radius of under a mile, but crews will need to respond to smoke, debris, HAZ-MAT coordination, and medical emergencies.

Citizens will notice what looks like emergency activities around the former Butterworth landfill.

In Kentwood on June 24, Crestwood Middle School on 44th Street will be the focus of training, and neighbors will notice emergency vehicles and helicopter activity.

“We do not expect the exercise to interrupt daily activities,” said  Kent County/Grand Rapids Emergency Management Coordinator Jack Stewart in a release.

“This type of exercise allows us to reach across county lines to exercise our capabilities,” said Muskegon County Undersheriff Dan Stout.