- Associated Press - Thursday, November 5, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - FBI officials said a Washington, D.C.-based bomb squad defused a simulated nuclear device at the Port of Anchorage during a training exercise this week.

The FBI’s Anchorage office said in a statement that Alaska was chosen as a training location for the Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices Section for its cold, snowy weather conditions. The primary disposal team had been “wanting to practice their response in a winter environment.”

Anchorage-based bureau spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessier said that the two-day logistics training began with a “deployment of forces” Monday. The simulated bomb response began Tuesday morning and continued through the evening, reported The Alaska Dispatch News (https://bit.ly/1MjxdPY).

The exercise involved members of the federal departments of Defense and Energy as well as Anchorage police officers.

Deirdre Fike, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Anchorage office, said in the statement that the port was the “perfect location” for the training exercise.

“From the very beginning, officials from the Port of Anchorage were incredibly accommodating in helping us with this training.” Fike said.

Federal law states that the FBI is the primary agency for responding to nuclear devices or weapons of mass destruction on American grounds. Among the initial responders include locally based FBI technicians, which are supported by other agencies.

“An incident involving a weapon of mass destruction would require an immediate combined response with our federal, state and local partners,” said Fike. “Training, like the exercise earlier this week, allows us to build upon our already strong partnerships.”

The device used in the exercise was transported from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and placed in a standard shipping container.

Feger-Pellessier declined to provide details of the exercise, citing security reasons. She did say the bureau’s bomb-disposal procedures typically include locating a device, clearing and securing the area, assessing the threat and then rendering it safe.

“Our priority and mission is to keep America and its citizens safe from any form of attack,” Feger-Pellessier said.

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Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com

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