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Emergency Preparedness Drill Earns Good Grades

Nicholas Cafalone, Contributing Writer
VOLNEY, NY – A public briefing was held at the Joint Operations Center in Volney to wrap up a three-day exercise to check preparedness at the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant.

Representatives from the FitzPatrick nuclear plant, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) were present at the public briefing.

Representatives from both FEMA and the NRC gave PowerPoint presentations about what each agency did during the exercise to check the preparedness of the nuclear plant.

“It was a three-day exercise, with a lot of participation from a lot of different agencies,” said Rebecca Thomson, the regional assistance committee chairperson for FEMA.

Participants in the exercise included county, state and federal agencies.

“A great many county agencies participated as they always do. There is always enthusiastic participation by the counties and it’s always very impressive,” said Thomson.

She added that the involvement of a number federal agencies is not always the case.

FEMA’s investigation team consisted of 38 individuals.  During an exercise FEMA uses a list of criteria to check that includes six main areas and 33 sub-criteria so that they can check things to fine degree.

The exercise consists of three different phases to evaluate preparedness and response to an accident.  The first phase is the plume phase, then the ingestion and then the recovery phase.

“We also went to the Emergency Alert System station (WSYR) to make sure they knew how to receive the message and then disseminate in the right amount of time and make sure it was accurate,” added Thomson.

“Overall, our conclusion is this was a successful exercise. Proactive and knowledgeable participants, a lot of enthusiasm and everybody took it very seriously,” said Thomson. “The lessons learned will help improve capabilities.

Thomson added that there were no serious issues identified and that FEMA’s official report will be available within 90 days.

Senior Emergency Preparedness Inspector of Region Four of the NRC Steve Barr added that the exercise was adequate and demonstrated compliance with the NRC.

The NRC checks against previous inspections to ensure improvements were made.

Within 45 days, the NRC report of the exercise will be available.