By Thomas Slater Emergency Preparedness Coordinator
Just as there are plans in place for dealing with natural emergencies such as tropical and winter storms, readiness plans are developed for man-made emergencies, which includes radiological hazards.
Nuclear power plants operate in most states in the country and produce about 20 percent of the nation’s power.
Nearly three million people live within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone of an operating nuclear power plant, including West Point, which is situated between 7-to-9 miles from the Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) in Buchanan of Westchester County.
Although the construction and operation of nuclear power plants are closely monitored and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, incidents at these plants are possible—and planned for.
If an accident at IPEC were to result in the potential or actual release of radiation, warning sirens in the area would be activated. Commercial and West Point media sources would broadcast Emergency Alert System messages to advise you on protective measures.
Depending upon the scope and scale of the emergency, protective actions may include “shelter-in-place” or “evacuation” advisories. As radioactive materials rapidly decay and dissipate with distance, the most likely scenario for West Point personnel would be to take shelter rather than trying to evacuate.
If you are instructed to shelter-in-place, the following steps will keep you and your family safe during the emergency.
• Shelter. Go inside your home or the nearest building; choose an inside room with as few windows or doors as possible.
• Shut. Shut and lock all windows and doors to create a better seal; turn off heating or cooling ventilation systems. If at home, make sure the fireplace damper and all ventilation fans are closed.
• Listen. Local officials are your best source of information. If in an office, monitor your computer, television and phones; if at home, listen to your radio or television until you are told it is safe to leave the shelter or to evacuate.
For more details, consult the Orange County Indian Point Emergency Guide, available at https://www.orangecountygov.com/DocumentCenter/View/2368/Indian-Point-Orange-Emergency-Guide-PDF, or call the West Point Emergency Manager at 845-938-7092.
Readiness, through education and preparation, is the best defense. Are you radiological ready?