TVA, Tennessee promote nuclear accident preparedness

TVA, Tennessee promote nuclear accident preparedness

December 17th, 2012 by Pam Sohn in Local Regional News

TVA distributes its annual Sequoyah calendar to people living within a 10-mile radius of the plant. The calendar includes emergency instructions and tips in case of a problem at the nuclear plant.

Photo by Allison Love/Times Free Press.

Sequoyah Nuclear Plant evacuation map and routes

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Sequoyah calendars

View calendars for Sequoyah, Watts Bar and Browns Ferry nuclear plants at www.tva.gov/power/nuclear/pdf/2013_SQN_Calendar.pdf.

If a nuclear accident occurred at Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, would you know what to do?

The 100,000-plus people who live and work within 10 miles of the plant can get tips from their 2013 Sequoyah emergency calendars, recently mailed. Others can find the calendar on the Tennessee Valley Authority's website.

Did you know, for instance:

• If you must evacuate your home, you should tie a white cloth or towel on the front door to signify to emergency responders that the home is empty?

• If you have special needs -- a blind, deaf, bed-bound or resident who uses a wheelchair -- the calendar contains a special-needs postcard to send now so state emergency workers can plan help.

• You can sign up for cost-free, spam-free emergency notifications on your cellphone at www.nixle.com.

TVA spokesman Ray Golden said the calendar is part of a comprehensive emergency plan for Sequoyah, including a list of shelters near communities, schools and day care centers.

There's a map of the 10-mile zone, labeled by emergency districts, along with the primary evacuation routes.

"If there ever is an emergency at the plant -- the probability of it is low, but it's not zero -- the plan could be implemented at different levels of whether you would shelter or evacuate. We always assume worst case: that it is evacuation," Golden said.

The Sequoyah 10-mile radius extends from the crest of Walden's Ridge and Signal Mountain to the Freewill community of Bradley County, and from Ooltewah to Sale Creek.

David Green, with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, said the plan isn't just on paper.

"It is tested regularly," he said,

Every year local agencies perform a number of drills, complete with mock injuries and mystery complications. Some are scored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Responders who get low scores must improve their plans and training, and sometimes be tested again.

In 2010, some Hamilton County responders had to adjust part of their emergency plan before the drill received complete approval, according to NRC documents. This year the drill received a complete thumbs-up from regulators, Green said.

In 2013, Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Tenn., will have a graded exercise that will be a very large drill involving a make-believe 50-mile plume and potential agricultural contamination, Green said.

"There's always room for improvement," Golden said.