Peach Bottom exercise goes off without a hitch

Harford County's emergency responders got a perfect report card for their response to a hypothetical disaster at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station.

They were recovering from a major exercise, set every two years, on how they handle a nuclear emergency that could mean evacuating everyone within 10 miles of the plant.

"Everything went pretty well," Rick Ayers, deputy manager of the Harford County Emergency Operations Center, said Thursday, while at a briefing in Lancaster, Pa., on the results of the drill.

Ayers said the drill at the dispatch center in Hickory ran until about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. Emergency responders were evaluated Wednesday on the reception and shelter situation that would be set up in the county to handle evacuees.

"We had no deficiencies," Ayers said. "That's what you're looking for."

The drill began with a call to the dispatch center that announced an "unusual event" that deteriorated into a site area emergency and, ultimately, a general emergency.

Harford County sheriff's deputies were to drive through a map of designated routes to simulate alerting residents in case some sirens failed. Deputies must ride down each road within 45 minutes of the emergency announcement, Ayers said.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials also said it would conduct an exercise at the nuclear generating facility in Delta, Pa., and send an evaluation to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission within 90 days.

The power plant site, one of the oldest nuclear generating sites in the United States, is just a few miles north of the Harford County and York County, Pa., border, on the western bank of the Susquehanna River.

FEMA's final report will be available to the public about 120 days after the exercise and the preliminary findings will be presented at a public meeting at 11 a.m. today (Friday, March 30) at the Homewood Suites Hotel at 200 Granite Run Drive in Lancaster, Pa.

Inspection findings are posted on the NRC's website,

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