Hundreds of emergency responders from federal, state and local agencies will be running evacuation routes, setting up radiation detection equipment and participating in alert and relocation activities around the Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant Wednesday.
But the exercise is only a drill. Police and emergency response teams from the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Hamilton County sheriff's office, the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency and and other emergency response personnel are participating in the annual graded exercise of how well they would respond to an emergency or radioactive leak at TVA's Sequoyah Nuclear Plant near Soddy-Daisy.
"This is test of our ability to effectively manage an emergency at the facility as well as coordinate with the emergency facilities at the Chattanooga Office Complex downtown, and then to communicate with our emergency response partners to communicate with the pubic," TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said. "We have radiological monitoring vans that we manage out at Sequoyah and TEMA also has similar equipment . As part of the drill, we try to give the individuals who would be staffing those vehicles experience in actually going out on the road with these vehicles."
Hopson said there will be a lot of unusual activity by police, fire, ambulance and other emergency responders during the drill.
"Residents may see increased vehicle traffic in the local area and hear on- and off-site sirens briefly activated during the exercise," he said.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal regulatory agency that oversees nuclear power plants, will evaluate how well TVA does in its simulated emergency response and give the federal utility a grade for its performance. Results of the exercise will be shared at a public meeting on Friday, Oct. 5 at 11 a.m. EDT, at TVA's downtown Chattanooga Offices, in the Missionary Ridge building Tennessee River room.
The Sequoyah drill will largely be done in the morning just ahead of another test scheduled for Wednesday of the Integrated Public and Warning System at 2:20 p.m. Wednesday. That test, which is totally separate from the Sequoyah drill, is a national test of the emergency alert system created to give warnings in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.
"We don't want Tennesseans to be surprised when they see, or hear, the alert on television or radio, and also receive it on their mobile devices," said Patrick Sheehan, director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. "This is also a preparedness opportunity to remind citizens how important it is to have multiple options for receiving emergency alerts and warnings at home, on the road, and at work."