Ocean County’s Oyster Creek Replacing Sirens [AUDIO]
Superstorm Sandy was an eye-opener for owners of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Ocean County's Lacey Township.
During the October 29th weather emergency, the plant was offline for a scheduled refueling but it wasn't immune to problems. 7 of the 43 emergency alert sirens in and around the 10 mile radius of the generating station were operational. That means 36 weren't working. While Exelon is taking action, the issue has raised a barrage of other questions.
The company is in the process of installing new sirens with battery backups. But would you believe it isn't a federal requirement? If there was ever a nuclear emergency and the sirens failed, a first responder would board a truck, armed with a megaphone and a list of instructions to alert you and your neighbors. But what if there's a radioactive release and/or an evacuation order?
Neil Sheehan at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says, "The process if called route alerting. It has been in place for many years at plants all across the country. In the event of such disaster, there would be time for the person to go out there and let you know the instructions without putting him or herself in harms way. This is something that is tested and graded on by FEMA."
At the present time, there are no plans to make it a requirement for nuclear generators to have battery backup's in place for their sirens, something that isn't sitting well with residents who live near plants and officials. The only plant that does require this type of system is in Indian Point in New York. It was something that was mandated through legislation pushed forward by Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton years back, due to the population in the area surrounding the facility.
Sheehan adds, "The silver lining is that many plants in the U.S. are implementing the backup without being forced to. They want to have the extra measures in place and are taking those steps. If it ever becomes necessary, we would be able to make it a requirement but at this time, we don't see that happening."
Exelon plans to have the new Oyster Creek sirens up and running in June. All of the failed units have been replaced temporarily while the new, higher-tech alarms are put into place.