SRS emergency drill centers on earthquake scenario

A drill involving a mock earthquake and radiological release helped Savannah River Site officials test and evaluate its emergency response programs and personnel Wednesday.

“It was a multifacility drill involving a natural disaster,” said Jim Giusti, a site spokesman for the U.S. Department of Energy, which graded the performance of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and other participating contractors.

The daylong scenario involved a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in the Charleston, S.C., area that resulted in a 6.6 scale quake at SRS, causing damage to buildings that house nuclear waste and tritium facilities. The simulation also included damage to Par Pond that made a dam collapse possible.

“Part of the objective was to evaluate how emergency response organizations respond to all these events at the same time,” Giusti said. “Usually, in these drills, we have one facility involved, and this is the first time we’ve done multiple facilities at the same time.”

The exercise involved several hundred people. Teams of evaluators will share and discuss their observations in ongoing efforts to improve safety and response programs.