A major exercise Wednesday at Plant Vogtle and Waynesboro, Ga., will be monitored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as a host of state and local agencies test Southern Nuclear’s network of warning sirens, radio signals and emergency-response activities.
The event, which will involve several hundred officials, is a simulation of what would transpire during a nuclear emergency. Although drills are held several times each year, the large-scale exercise scheduled for Wednesday is conducted every two years. The event will last from 8:30 a.m. until about noon.
As a part of the simulation, Georgia Power Co. will activate its Vogtle Joint Information Center in Waynesboro, a $2 million facility that opened in January 2011. In a real emergency event, the center — equipped with a briefing room, newsroom and offices for emergency officials — would be the site for information dissemination to the public and media.
In addition to operating Vogtle’s two existing nuclear reactors, construction work is under way for units 3 and 4, involving thousands of additional workers at the site and increased activity, all of which will be taken into account as the drill unfolds, company spokesman Carol Boatwright said.
“It’s the largest drill that we conduct out there,” she said.
Agencies including the NRC will evaluate the response activities later as part of ongoing efforts to improve safety programs. The last major exercise at Vogtle was held May 18, 2010.