FEMA puts TVA and local EMAs to the test

In the case of an emergency, agencies have thousands of possible scenarios to run through
Published: Jun. 26, 2019 at 10:21 PM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - Housing three nuclear reactors, Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant contains more energy than you can imagine.

It’s energy that could cause a disaster if something goes wrong.

Tennessee Valley Authority public information officer Jim Hopson says, “We actually spend many hundreds of hours both for TVA as well as the local emergency management agencies considering every possible scenario and how we would protect those residents in the area of Browns Ferry should something happen.”

Hopson says there’s thousands of scenarios to prepare for. In light of an emergency, there’s several steps that are taken to ensure everyone’s safety.

TVA, local law enforcement, emergency responders, school officials, emergency management agencies and other organizations practice annually for an emergency.

“We feel it is our responsibility to be able to effectively communicate timely, accurate information that the public’s going to be able to use to ensure their safety even though we don’t think anything is going to happen at Browns Ferry any time in the future," Hopson said.

Hopson explained Browns Ferry employees practice emergency nuclear drills once every five weeks. They’re re-certified regularly.

Morgan County EMA director, Eddie Hicks, says the annual drill helps prepare agencies for all sorts of situations. He says, the preparation effort really makes a difference.

“We’ve had some situations in the past that was not part of Brown’s Ferry that we brought people in to the operations center, and they knew exactly what to do," Hicks said.

On Wednesday, FEMA officials came to Decatur to grade Morgan County’s EMA and TVA’s emergency practice drill.

However, not only does TVA prepare for an emergency at the nuclear plant, they also prepare for flooding or the potential failure of any of its dams.

In February, TVA officials say the dams performed perfectly when they had to run millions of gallons per minute through the dams on a short-term notice.

“When mother nature dumps anywhere from 12-20 inches of water over a 2-3 day period, there’s gonna be some localized flooding. We work together with local officials to try and minimize those aspects to the limit that we can," Hopson explained.

TVA, the Morgan County EMA and other agencies want you to know they’re prepared for anything.

Their top priority is keeping everyone informed and safe.

The agencies will get their graded score from FEMA in a few weeks.

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