The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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December 8, 2012

Officials: Nuclear drill a success

CLINTON — After performing a routine exercise, officials remain confident in their ability to inform and protect the public in the case of an incident at the nuclear power plant in Cordova, Ill.

Officials on Wednesday from Clinton, Scott, Whiteside and Rock Island counties gathered in their respective locations to preform a drill simulating the work that would need to be performed.

Leaders met with FEMA on Friday to discuss the exercise and briefly detail the results.

“I’ve been doing these exercises for 20 years and this was an excellent exercise,” Kathy Stodola, with the Readiness and Response Bureau of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said.  “There are hundreds of criteria we exercise to improve on.

Great job by our local emergency management coordinators, volunteers and participants.”

Agencies covering areas inside the 10-mile emergency preparedness zone, which includes Camanche, Low Moor, LeClaire, Port Byron, Cordova, Albany and parts of Clinton, were evaluated by the Technological Hazards branch of the National Preparedness division of FEMA in Region VII during the biennial drill. A team of 18 evaluators will file reports covering 95 criteria on agencies’ procedures and responses that were evaluated.  

The evaluation of the exercise is ongoing and the final report will be delivered to the state within 90 days, according to Ron McCabe, chief of the Technological Hazards Branch and chairman of the Regional Assistance committee with FEMA.

The report will review the emergency operations management, actions taken to protect the public, technical aspects of the drill, emergency notifications and other responsibilities that need to be covered during a nuclear event.  

While the detailed results, successes, problems or deficiencies won’t be identified until all of the reports and background materials are analyzed, for now officials are deeming the drill a success.

“We believe that our ability to continue to protect the health and safety of the public is at a very high level,” Quad-Cities Generating Station Communications Manager Bill Stoermer said. “We think the drill went very well from our perspective and certainly that’s what we expect. These have to be very high level performance. We expect nothing but excellence.”

The performance of the participants on-site at the nuclear plant in Cordova were observed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  

“We are very proud of our people at the station. This is a very comprehensive process. We met all eight of the criteria set forth by the NRC,” Stoermer said.

This is the third year Chance Kness, the Clinton County emergency management coordinator, has participated in the drill.  He’s heralding it as the best of the three.

“The beauty of the (emergency operations center) and the participants is, we throw out the question and have that group discussion because we’re able to come up with more creative ideas as a group of people from different disciplines,” Kness said. “Not to mention all those different participants have different resources.”

Among the creative ideas that came from the 30 direct participants in addition to the hundreds of other tertiary participants this year was one regarding the staging of resources such as buses in case of an emergency. Kness said during the drill they also requested more resources from the state than has been in previous years.   

Above the performance of the participants, Kness and other officials said they are proud of the commitment that people integral to the process exercise.  

“They volunteer their time to make Clinton County safer,” Kness said.  

Not only is this exercise important for what to do in case of an event at the nuclear power plant, but also in regularly occurring events such as ice storms and floods, Kness said.   

“Sometimes there is an irrational fear about nuclear power. It being one of those hazards that we have, (the public) needs to know we’re preparing for that specifically, but they also need to know we prepare for all disasters.”

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