“BUCHANAN — All but a half-dozen of Indian Point’s 156 emergency sirens tested properly last night, with the few failures spread across the 10-mile evacuation radius around the nuclear plant.
Only Putnam County came away with a perfect score for its 10 sirens.
“We were 100 percent successful,” said Adam Stiebeling, Putnam’s deputy commissioner of emergency services. “That makes my reporting job easy.”
The 7:30 p.m. test — held at that time to reach more residents at home — was one of the last for this group of 156 sirens.
They’ll be replaced by the end of January with a new system, which may include automatic telephoning of residents in affected areas as a backup warning.
Westchester, Rockland and Orange, the other counties in the emergency zone, had two malfunctions each, though only Rockland had a confirmed failure of a siren to sound, officials said.
“I believe the problems here were rotation sensors, which has been a problem that has plagued the system since they were first installed,” said Anthony Sutton, Westchester’s top emergency official. “There’ll be no moving parts, hopefully, in the new system.”
The current siren system is designed to alert residents of Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties who live within 10 miles of the nuclear plant to turn on their TVs or radios in the event of an emergency.
Indian Point officials said a WHUD emergency radio broadcast interrupted local cable television stations last night without incident, alerting viewers of the test.
“We’re pleased because the test demonstrated that the problems we’ve had in the past have been solved,” Indian Point spokesman Jim Steet said. “Not just with this test but with several in a row.”
The new $10 million replacement system, in addition to broadcasting simultaneously in four directions from each siren, will cover more of the emergency zone’s parklands and will have the capacity to give voice commands in some locations.
Last night’s test was part of an annual evaluation required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to confirm that at least 94 percent of the sirens work.
The tests check sound, rotation and communication with Indian Point and the four counties’ emergency centers.
In areas where the sirens fail during a real emergency, local police would be required to alert residents street by street.
Last year, the sirens failed on such a wholesale basis that elected officials called for the NRC to require a better system.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., attached an amendment to the Energy Act of 2005 that required renovating the sirens’ backup power source, and the company announced plans to replace the entire system.
At one point during the summer of 2005, the sirens failed three times in a one-month period.
Two quarterly tests this year were relatively routine, with all 156 working properly in the March exercise.
County emergency officials have suggested that residents use the quarterly tests as a reminder to review emergency planning in their own homes.
They added that having the test at night improved the likelihood of more people hearing the sirens.
The company is on schedule to meet the Jan. 30 deadline for completing the replacement, Indian Point officials say.
About two-thirds of the new sirens have been installed.”
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