By BRIAN GRAVES
receives a utility bill within the 10-mile emergency evacuation zone of Sequoyah
Nuclear Plant will be receiving a calendar that will do more than tell what
month and day it …
Everyone who receives a utility bill within the 10-mile emergency evacuation zone of Sequoyah Nuclear Plant will be receiving a calendar that will do more than tell what month and day it is — it could also save your life.
TVA's Sequoyah Nuclear Plant Manager Matt Rasmussen recently welcomed members of the media to the plant's training center to discuss the plant and how it prepares for emergencies.
Rasmussen said the plant is currently generating 2,400 kilowatts of power, which is enough to power 1.3 million homes.
"We continue to produce power safely and efficiently," he said.
He called the event a "great opportunity for us to share our mission and what our strategy is for the safe and reliable operation of our facilities."
Rasmussen said the plant partners with local emergency management operations, such as Bradley County EMA, along with TEMA and FEMA on strategies that would come into play should an actual public-threatening emergency occur.
Paul Gain, emergency preparedness manager, described the purpose of the calendars, which are being delivered to local energy customers.
"If you live within the 10-mile emergency planning zone [around the plant], we send you a calendar," Gain explained. "How we do that is using your electric bill. If you get an electric bill, you get a calendar."
"What this calendar does is give you information about where your children would be in the event we have an issue where we have to evacuate," Gain said. "It also tells you the different levels of notifications and events. It tells you who is to evacuate and how and where to go. There is also information as to how the plan actually functions."
There are contact numbers for various agencies also included within the calendar.
"This calendar is very important," Gain said. "This is how we ensure the public gets information that is needed in the event there is an emergency."
The calendar also contains postcards, which can be sent to the state emergency agency in order to place on record the name, and address of persons who would need assistance during an emergency because of special needs or conditions.
The major evacuation route concerning Cleveland and Bradley County would direct people to Ocoee Middle School. Prospect Elementary would also be evacuated to Ocoee Middle.
Korner Kampus II Day Care would also be relocated to the Ocoee Middle facilities.
TEMA Technical Hazards Director Tim Holden said the local entities do maintain the ability to use backup sites should the main facility be unusable at the time of an emergency.
Both Holden and Gain specifically mentioned the professionalism of and the good working relationships held with Bradley County EMA Director Troy Spence and that agency.
"Jeff Gunter [of Bradley EMA] is specifically involved with the Sequoyah emergency off-site policies and procedures," Holden said.
The calendar also shows reminders the plant tests is sirens on the first Wednesday of each month.
A demonstration of what happens in the plant's control room showed how an emergency might look and sound with the plant's team navigating a plethora of buttons, lights and levers.
"The lights and alarms are overwhelming initially," Gain said. "These guys are highly trained. They understand every one of these lights that go on and off, and what that means about where to go and how to go. It is a very vigorous program."
"Their primary concern if anything goes bad is the plant is secondary, first is the health and safety of the public always," Gain said. "They are trained continuously."
Once an emergency begins, the team with the control area speaks with extremely clipped and clear speech patterns.
"You will notice we never use words like 'increase' or 'decrease,'" noted operations lead instructor Harold Siercks. "Those can be too easily mistaken for each other."
There is never more than one person talking at a time and each question or command is notated by the raising of a hand.
Siercks said the calmness with which the simulation went is duplicated under real duress.
"We do these simulations so many times, the way we spoke today is exactly how you would hear it in a real emergency," Siercks said.
Anyone wanting more information about the calendar or emergency plans can contact TVA at 423-843-7839 or the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency at 423-728-7289.
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