Relax: It was just a nuclear emergency ‘drill’

There was a little unintended excitement concerning the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear plant recently when a local radio station read an announcement about an emergency at the plant that evidently failed to include the words ‘THIS IS A DRILL.’

The incident occurred July 13, according to an “event” report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). South Texas was doing a drill that involved NRC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The NRC report, which was publicly posted July 20, noted that the radio station read a corrected version within four hours that made it clear that South Texas was merely doing an emergency exercise.

Here’s the information posted with NRC:

“During the planned NRC/FEMA evaluated drill exercise on 7/13/16, two press releases written in the Joint Information Center (JIC) were published in the Public Information and Emergency Response (PIER) system without ‘THIS IS A DRILL’ denoted at the top of the page. The original press release was stamped with ‘THIS IS A DRILL’ at the top of page 1 and at the bottom of page 2. When it was added into the PIER system for publication/faxing, it was not noticed the top of the document denoting ‘THIS IS A DRILL’ was cut off,” according to the NRC report.

“The local radio station affiliate was not aware of STP’s [South Texas Project’s] exercise on 7/13/16. As a result, the affiliate station thought it was a real event and read the press releases over the airwaves at 1014 [CDT] and again at 1046 [CDT].”

“At approximately 1400 [CDT] on the same day, the radio station told their listening audience of the mistake and stated STP was having a training exercise not a real event. The correction was broadcast over the airwaves three times every hour until midnight,” according to the report filed with NRC.

“This event is not significant with respect to the health and safety of the public,” according to the NRC report. The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

Located in Wadsworth, Texas, which is in Matagorda County, South Texas is home to two pressurized water reactors (PWRs) that together can produce about 2,700 MW. The station is held by STP Nuclear Operating. STP is jointly owned by NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG), CPS Energy and Austin Energy.

An NRG Energy-affiliated company, Nuclear Innovation North America (NINA) has been issued licenses to build and operate two new reactors at the site – which is largely considered a placeholder to keep the option of new nuclear construction open in the future.

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2016/20160720en.html

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.