One of my favorite topics in the world of emergency preparedness is training, exercises and drills. Most drills in the utility industry revolve around nasty weather, but I always encourage people to think outside the box when it comes to drill scenarios – in fact, I recently wrote about the ins and outs of conducting a missile attack drill! And just today I just stumbled onto an article that discussed a local municipality’s efforts to conduct a nuclear disaster drill. Now THAT is what I’m talking about!
Handling a Nuclear Disaster
Local officials in Decatur, AL recently conducted a drill at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. Any event involving nuclear power is unique because radioactive waste can become airborne and force the evacuation of everyone within a 10-mile radius of the compromised nuclear power plant.
The drill was extremely well represented, with fire, police and school officials from 5 counties on hand, as well as representatives from the NRC, AL Department of Public Health, and FEMA. The drill involved a core meltdown, as opposed to a hack attack.
A mock emergency responder staging area was setup at a local high school, and evacuation and radiation poisoning protocols were exercised. The lessons learned from the drill were used to update the emergency plan and the local evacuation plan. Click here to read more details about the Decatur nuclear drill.
Overall, it’s an incredibly useful way to practice handling an extreme emergency – for utility and first responder personnel, as well as local residents because the media coverage will help it become top of mind (at least for a little while). I applaud the folks who conceptualized and organized the effort, and I hope that it provides some ideas to other officials located near nuclear plants when they conduct a nuclear disaster drill or exercise.