CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) — The West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WVDHSEM) hosted multiple state agencies Nov. 21, 2019, during a Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) program exercise based on a mock event at the Beaver Valley Power Station (BVPS) located in Shippingport, Pa.
The exercise was part of a series of annual exercises required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for jurisdictions that might be impacted by an accident or incident at nuclear power facilities. While the Beaver Valley Power Station is located in Pennsylvania, communities in the northern panhandle of West Virginia fall within the 50-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ), which are required to have response plans in place should an accident or incident occur.
The goal of the REP program is to provide guidance and policies necessary to ensure that adequate capabilities exist to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from incidents involving commercial nuclear power plants.
Participants in the exercise were given a scenario of a possible event of concern happening at the BVPS. Participants were then responsible to initiate response actions based on their existing agency emergency plans to include highway and road closures, evacuations and sheltering, agricultural and animal concerns, and public information. Emphasis was placed on inter-agency communications and working across state agencies to support a unified command and response approach.
“Having regular exercises for a potential incident at the BVPS provides us the opportunity to hone our skills and to both identify and work through potential problematic response issues so we can resolve them before an actual real-world event,” stated Meghan Hutchinson, WVDHSEM REP State Agency Coordinator. “Working in a joint-agency environment greatly enhances our coordinated response efforts and helps us best support and protect the 120-thousand fellow West Virginians that live and work in the northern panhandle areas within the 50-mile EPZ.”
Counties within the 50-mile Ingestion Pathway EPZ for the BVPS include Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and the northern portion of Marshall county. Areas of Hancock County also fall into a 10-mile Plume Exposure Pathway EPZ which requires additional levels of planning and response capabilities.
Agencies participating in the exercise included the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, West Virginia National Guard, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, West Virginia Division of Highways, the American Red Cross, and the National Weather Service.