Are you and your family prepared for a nuclear emergency?We ensure the doors of our homes are locked tight before retiring for the evening. We purchase SUVs when we have children because we consider …
Are you and your family prepared for a nuclear emergency?
We ensure the doors of our homes are locked tight before retiring for the evening. We purchase SUVs when we have children because we consider them more safe to drive. Some of us have guns to protect our families in case of intruders. The list goes on and on ... but have any of us seriously considered what we would do if an accident occurred at TVA’s Soddy-Daisy Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, as portions of Bradley County are located within its 10-mile evacuation zone?
Officials from the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency want the public to be aware of the availability and important usefulness of its 2019 Sequoyah calendar, which contains important information about emergency plans that have been implemented in case an accident occurs at the nuclear facility. Each resident living within the evacuation zone receives the calendar each year.
TVA media and public relations spokesperson Scott Fiedler said agency officials embark on a media campaign each year to ensure public awareness. He said he wants residents and those doing business in the evacuation zone to be aware of the calendar and the safety information listed within.
“We go out every December and meet with media in the emergency planning zone,” Fiedler told the Cleveland Daily Banner.
The calendar lists information concerning evacuating the area in case of a radiological release including evacuation routes, shelters where schoolchildren are moved in case an emergency occurs during school hours, information for people with special medical needs, information for farmers and home gardeners, an emergency supplies checklist, as well as information about radiation and the nuclear plant.
TEMA technical hazards manager Tim Holden, who is based in Nashville, works closely with local emergency management officials at the 911 Center and said the team there is highly trained to handle emergency situations, including nuclear accident preparedness and procedures.
“There are extensive plans and policies in place to protect the public,” Holden told the Banner. “They work extensively with the state for planning and response and know how to deal with emergency situations involving the nuclear plant.”
The officials noted that special instructions for those who are confined to a bed, have lack of transportation, are blind, use a wheelchair, cannot hear or have any other special issues that may prevent them from evacuating during an emergency, are contained within the information section of the calendar.
In the calendar is a postcard they may fill out and mail to TVA, which will then coordinate with local officials who will respond if an accident occurs.
“Rescue personnel in Bradley County will help them evacuate,” Holden said.
Holden said approximately 130,000 people live within the 10-mile zone, of which 3,000 are Bradley County residents.
While Sequoyah has had an excellent operational record since going online in 1979, an incident that took place last month serves as a reminder to those living within its radius that they need to be prepared if a serious accident occurs.
According to Sequoyah emergency preparedness manager Paul Gain, last month’s event involved a situation where smoke was generated from oil from a wrench-like tool that came into contact with a hot surface. The plant was offline at the time.
“We had smoke, but no fire,” Gain said. “The incident that caused the smoke was hydraulic fluid.”
Gain explained that the fluid, which had a flashpoint of 410 degrees, came into contact with a pressurizer, which is a cylindrical-shaped piece of equipment that contains superheated water. The pressurizer surface was 430 degrees, which resulted in causing smoke when it came in contact with the oil.
Although it was a minor situation, Gain said the facility immediately notified state officials of the event, which began at approximately 8:16 a.m. The officials were notified at 8:18 a.m.
Gain said there are several emergency levels that classify emergency events. (See graphic.)
“We went to the lowest level, which is called an ‘unusual event’,” Gain said, adding that the different levels are listed in the calendar.
Gain said the Bradley County 911 Center was notified within 15 minutes.
Bradley County fixed nuclear facility planner Jeff Gunter said people in the evacuation zone can receive emergency alerts about nuclear accidents, as well as other dangerous conditions such as tornadoes, via text message.
"They can get cell phone alerts by texting CBCEMA to 888-777," Gunter said.
Nuclear power is one of the safest forms of power production, according to Holden.
“The track record is there,” Holden said. “It’s also excellent with working local and state officials.”
Still, the officials want the public to be aware of safety procedures and for them to closely study those listed in the information section of the calendar. Also, keep the calendar in an easily accessible area where it can be located quickly.
“Take a couple of minutes and read through the calendar," Gain said.
For more information, visit the following websites:
Residents of Charleston, Cleveland, Bradley County and neighboring communities can immediately begin receiving pertinent information via text message or email by texting CBCEMA to 888777 or registering at https://www.bradleycountytn.gov/ema_emergency_mgmt.html
Anyone wanting more information about the calendar or emergency plans can contact TVA at 423-843-7839 or the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency at 423-728-7289.
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