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Early Results Are In For FEMA’s Full Scale Radiological Emergency Test

Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant (Exelon)

First responders and Oyster Creek were put through the paces last week as part of a full scale Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Radiological Emergency Preparedness Drill.

The drill is based on an unlikely scenario of things going from bad to absolute worst at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township. It’s all in an effort to see not only how the nuclear power plant operators respond but all the systems put in place to protect the public in the event of a radiological emergency.

The preliminary findings released Friday, March 21 by FEMA shows that Ocean County is well prepared in the event of a disaster at the plant. FEMA Tech Hazards Branch Chief Rebecca Thomson said “FEMA was happy to see that things worked very well the other night and over the past two years.” “Some times it has been a controversial site but not for us,” she explained. “We always feel that the state and local governments are prepared here in new New Jersey.”

NRC Senior Emergency Preparedness Inspector Steve Barr at the NRC’s Region 1 office out of King of Prussia Pennsylvania, said they get to review the story line to make sure it adequately test emergency personnel at Oyster Creek.

“We’re not looking for something easy to make them look good the night of the drill. We want it to be a fair test,” Barr said.

Because it’s such a rigorous test, Barr said the NRC is not looking for perfection but they are looking for Oyster Creek’s emergency staff to have the ability to recognize their own short comings and to take corrective action.

Thomson said the final report is due out in three months. FEMA’s full scale Radiological Emergency Preparedness Exercise is conducted every two years at every nuclear power plant in the country. She said the drill, that took place during the afternoon and evening of Tuesday, March 18th, was wide-ranging in scope, looking at several hundred criteria as well as a large number of out of sequence drills for things like medical services and for schools, to make sure the entire system will work.

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