FBI tests nuclear bomb drill at Port of Anchorage

An Aerial view of the Port of Anchorage from 1999. (Photo: By U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
An Aerial view of the Port of Anchorage from 1999. (Photo: By U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation wrapped up a two-day assessment of how to respond to a nuclear bomb discovered at the Port of Anchorage.

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“We started on Monday morning,” said Staci Feger-Pellessier, spokesperson for the FBI’s Anchorage office, who explained the first day focused on deployment of forces, “And then really identifying and rendering safe the situation–that took place on Tuesday.”

The drills had less to do with with Alaska as a potential target for an attack than with the cold, snowy weather that can be hard to come by near the Bureau’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“This was absolutely not something that was done because of a perceived credible threat that was going to happen on our area, absolutely not,” Feger-Pellessier said by phone Wednesday. “They really wanted to do it for more of a winter environment.”

A specialized team of trainers from the Critical Incident Response Group based in DC helped local agents with logistics training. National security protocols dictate that when a weapon of mass destruction is located the FBI takes lead, coordinating with local agencies, which in this case involved the Defense Department, Port of Anchorage, Department of Energy, and Anchorage Police.

Though Alaska is not considered a high-risk target, ports across the country have been consistently criticized for their vulnerability to attack. As of 2012, only 4.1 percent of the 11.5 million containers shipped into U.S. ports were screened, according to Bloomberg News. The Port of Anchorage handled 1,9511,820 tons of freight in 2014, constituting about 90 percent of all the cargo brought into Alaska.

Feger-Pellessier couldn not say how much the exercise cost.

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Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska. @ZachHughesAK About Zachariah