A federal agency has approved the continuation of emergency response plans by Missouri and Nebraska after evaluating a summer exercise involving Cooper Nuclear Station.

A report on the exercise, released Monday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, noted that areas of concern — including the notification of affected residents in both states — are being addressed by participating agencies.

The full-scale response exercise was conducted July 31 and Aug. 1 in the area around the facility located southeast of Brownville, Neb. Dozens of regional agencies, 150 plant personnel and several hundred off-site officials and volunteers were involved in the radiological accident simulation.

Evacuated areas in the exercise included Rock Port, Mo., and Brownville, and affected 4,000 residents. Meanwhile, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff conducted observations of Cooper’s personnel.

“The off-site radiological emergency response plans and preparedness for the states of Missouri and Nebraska and the affected local jurisdictions are deemed adequate to provide reasonable assurance that appropriate measures can be taken to protect the health and safety of the public in the event of a radiological emergency,” FEMA said in a conclusion to its report.

The majority of the evaluations praised the participants’ responses. Officials said concerns arose over the processes used to notify residents under the scenario’s guidelines.

For example, the Missouri Joint Information Center failed to provide written copies of news releases to the Atchison County Emergency Operations Center before or immediately after the releases were issued to the media.

Officials recommended that the affected Missouri counties be included whenever news releases are issued to the media.

Another circumstance that arose during the exercise found an error in a Nebraska news release containing instructions to the public. The news release contained incorrect boundary information, with county lines reversed. A lack of oversight, accountability and procedures were cited as possible reasons for the mistake.

“The incorrect information could have put the residents in the affected areas at risk for delaying their departure for relocation or potential contamination,” FEMA said.

The report praised the Missouri State Emergency Operations Center’s teamwork, direction and control. Two state radiological field teams were “impressive throughout the exercise” and were well set for sampling, the agency added.

“Fairfax Community Hospital has an excellent facility and setup,” it said. “The Atchison-Holt Ambulance Service demonstrated that equipment and supplies were sufficient to support emergency response operations. All team members demonstrated positive attitudes.”

The Nodaway County Ambulance crew performed well in the use of personal protective clothing, according to FEMA. An employee with radio station KFEQ was aware of his duties regarding the activation of the Emergency Alert System and other station activities during an emergency at the reactor.

FEMA commended the training, scenario development and drill preparation by the Nebraska Public Power District, which owns and operates the plant.

The station is the single largest unit electrical generator in Nebraska and began operations in 1974.

Ray Scherer can be reached at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.







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