Shoreline towns put to the test in case of a radiological release

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WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — If you live or work within ten miles of the Millstone Nuclear Power plant you can go to any local town hall and get Potassium Iodide or KI pills which protect your thyroid gland in case of a radiological release.

Earlier this week there was a full-scale exercise surrounding that scenario.

Waterford first selectman Dan Steward says the scenarios usually escalate to the highest level.

“As we’re evacuating we have to figure out how do we handle the handicapped, how do we handle the elderly, people that need assistance,” explains Steward. “Are we prepared to help them? Do we have enough vehicles? Do we have enough buses to transport students? Do we close schools? Do we open schools?”

Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford, Conn.

During these drills FEMA observes and evaluates governmental responses. There were two FEMA representatives inside Waterford’s Emergency Operations Center. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission or NRC observes and evaluates the on-site performance of Millstone Station staff.

“We would characterize performance as extremely well done,” Steve Colman told a group gathered at Fort Trumbull in New London for a briefing about the exercise.

He is chief of the Radiological Emergency Planning Branch of FEMA’s Region 1.

500 people at 19 locations took part in Tuesday’s drill.

Strengths were identified along with issues which are places where there’s need for improvement.

“What we wanted to know would be what would happen if a siren failed during an event,” Colman told the group.

Waterford firefighters planned to go road to road and broadcast the alert but they are now asked to map out routes beforehand to speed up the process.

“It’s very important,” says Colman. “What we like to do is challenge the ordinary throw a surprise into the day of the emergency management director.”

These full-scale exercises take place in the towns within ten miles of Millstone every two years.

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