RICHLAND, Wash. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct a full-participation Emergency Response Exercise of the Columbia Generating Station (formerly known as Washington Nuclear Plant No. 2) September 12-13, 2000. A public meeting is scheduled for Friday, September 15 at 3:00 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel in Richland to explain State and local plans, detail findings, answer questions, and receive suggestions on recommended changes or improvements. Participating federal, state and local agencies will be represented. According to Deputy Regional Director Tammy Doherty, the exercise develops a realistic, if extreme scenario that is designed to fully evaluate the adequacy of Washington, Oregon and local emergency response plans.
"Federal regulations specify commercial nuclear facility emergency planning zones (EPZ) of ten miles for plume pathways, and fifty miles for ingestion exposure pathways. Plume exposure refers to gamma radiation risk from 'fall out,' or inhalation exposure from a passing radioactive cloud, or 'plume,' and ingestion exposure refers to eating or drinking contaminated foods or liquids," said Doherty. "It's the ingestion pathway planning zone that extends across the border into Northeast Oregon that requires Oregon to establish and exercise their own emergency response plans, and we had to develop a truly 'worst case scenario' to insure a comprehensive review of all participating agencies."
"Planning is not prediction, and no one expects anything like this to happen," continued Doherty. "But that's what emergency preparedness is all about: prioritizing possible hazards, and taking prudent precautions before disasters strike to mitigate their worst effects, minimize loss, and speed recovery."
While FEMA is the lead agency for State and local emergency planning and preparedness activities with respect to nuclear power facilities, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is responsible for on-site operations, and issuing commercial nuclear power plant operating licenses.
The exercise, plan reviews, and public meeting process are part of a mandatory program of emergency preparedness required to maintain the plant's operating license and to assure an adequate ability to protect the public's health and safety.