Action / News

“Fake nuclear drill mocked; Protestors charge evacuation exercise is unrealistic” by Rita J. King

“Real reporters weren’t allowed to ask questions during the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Radiological Emergency Preparedness Plan drill yesterday (Tuesday) regarding a terrorist attack at Indian Point, apparently because the situation presented isn’t real.

FEMA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy, Indian Point’s owner, invented a terrorist scenario and held a mock press conference during which fake reporters asked questions about an imaginary airplane flown into Indian Point.

The mock drill is part of a process to ensure safety and communication, and to give a sense in the event of a real emergency, actual reporters would be given access to a panel of government and industry officials.

The drill was held at the Joint News Center at the Westchester County Airport. FEMA, NRC, the New York State Police and Entergy were among the agencies represented in the panel, and they handled the mock drill as if it was the real thing, minus the pressure of adrenaline that accompanies life emergencies.

Breaking news, such as the extinguishing of a fire caused by the impact of the airplane, was announced during the drill. One mock casualty, an Entergy employee, was reported.

Diane Screnci, NRC spokesperson, said she couldn’t reveal intelligence information, such as where the airplane had been en route from or if it was hijacked. A faux message from the director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge had enabled Indian Point to be made aware of the potential threat ahead if time and shut down the reactors prior to impact.

Protestors stood outside the Joint News Center with signs reading, “NRC and FEMA are quacks and we’re sitting ducks,” and “Unsafe, Unsecure and Fatal,” a take-off on Indian Point’s “Safe, Secure and Vital” slogan. The chanted, “Hey, ho, Indian Point has got to go.”

“The drill will be unrealistic in that the NRC, FEMA, and the nuclear industry have refused to recognize human behavior that was demonstrated during the Three Mile Island accident. For example, key people in the response plan in all likelihood will delay response or abandon their roles,” said the director of the Reactor Watchdog Project, Paul Gunter.

“The current emergency plan doesn’t factor these real human behaviors into their drill,” Gunter said.

Environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper’s senior policy analyst Kyle Rabin said other factors are similarly ignored during the creation of the mock scenario, such as the possibility of a fast-breaking scenario and the capability of local hospitals to treat an influx of patients who may have been exposed to massive doses of radiation.”

This article originally appeared in the North County News

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