By Frank Lewis
If you live near the Piketon Department of Energy site don’t be alarmed if you see more activity than normal in that area on Saturday (June 13). The Department of Energy, Fluor-B&W Portsmouth and other site contractors will be participating in a biennial emergency response exercise. The graded drill is meant to test employees, first-responders, emergency management, support staff and off-site medical and rescue personnel on their response to a multi-victim emergency with the potential for off-site impact.
Fluor-B&W Site Deputy Director Fred Hughes said site personnel have participated and practiced these kinds of emergency scenarios for nearly three decades. Saturday’s exercise window is 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will involve 150-200 on and off-site responders including the Pike County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The site EOC and Joint Public Information Center (JPIC) will also be fully operational. Off-site responders will be pre-positioned on the reservation to avoid causing undue alarm to passing motorists. Regional air ambulance services may also be seen flying to and from the DOE site.
Depending on the nature of the incident the site-wide public warning system sirens may be activated. No action is required of the public for the exercise. The public warning system is tested weekly with an audible test performed twice a year. The most recent test was conducted in May. In the unlikely event of a real emergency at the Portsmouth site, plant neighbors within a two mile radius of the site would be advised to go indoors and close all windows and shut off any ventilation units such as air conditioners.
“This full-scale emergency response drill is a real chance to fully test our capabilities,” Hughes said. “Our site fire department is on-call 24/7 and regularly responds to both on and off-site events and accidents. So while they are regularly tested this is a chance to escalate an emergency and make sure field workers, site, county and state emergency operations center personnel, even Washington, D.C. DOE Headquarters staff have the information and resources to safely and efficiently respond to and recover from an emergency.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.