U.S. NRC Blog

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Working Together — The Southern Exposure 2015 Exercise

Roger Hannah
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Region II

NRC officials participate in an exercise at the headquarters Op Center. The Op Center will be active during the upcoming Southern Exposure 2015 exercise.

NRC officials participate in an exercise at the headquarters Operations Center. The Operations Center will be active with officials participating during the upcoming Southern Exposure 2015 exercise.

Every year, NRC managers and staff members in headquarters and the agency’s four regions participate in nuclear power plant emergency exercises. The plants are required to exercise their plans every other year, and NRC response team members use these exercises to keep their skills sharp and to identify areas for improvement. The exercises provide valuable experience and make each plant’s overall emergency response program better.

State and local responders and the plant staff have a crucial role in each of those exercises, but many federal agencies that would be involved in an actual serious nuclear emergency rarely participate.

In a little more than a week, the NRC, along with state and local officials in South Carolina, Duke Energy, FEMA and the Department of Energy, will stage a full-scale exercise at the Robinson nuclear plant in South Carolina. It’s being called Southern Exposure 2015. This exercise will bring together not only the usual exercise participants, but also many other agencies that would have a role in a real event.

In addition to the NRC, FEMA and DOE, federal agencies participating include the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Labor, the Interior, Transportation, Veterans Affairs and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Southern Exposure 2015 will begin on Tuesday, July 21, with activities much like the exercises the NRC regularly sees. On Wednesday, July 22, the NRC will be joined by those other federal agencies in a broad response to the simulated events at the Robinson plant. The NRC and the other federal agencies will work closely with state and local officials and Duke Energy’s plant operators and managers to achieve the objectives of the exercise.

Victor McCree, the Regional Administrator for Region II, will serve as the NRC’s Site Team Director for Southern Exposure 2015, leading the NRC team in South Carolina. The NRC will also support the exercise with staff in the regional office in Atlanta and headquarters in Rockville, Md.

While McCree has participated in countless exercises, he acknowledges this one is unique. It’s a rare opportunity, he said, to work with so many organizations across federal, state and local governments as well as the private sector.

People living and traveling near the Robinson plant during the exercise may hear and see actions associated with the simulated response. These could include response vehicles, field monitoring teams and low-flying aircraft, but the exercise should not affect normal traffic or other activities in the area.

While the likelihood of a severe nuclear accident in this country is low, the Southern Exposure 2015 exercise is designed to allow all the organizations involved, federal, state and local, to address the simulated accident’s effects on the economy, environment and public health – and be better prepared to respond if the events were real.

8 responses to “Working Together — The Southern Exposure 2015 Exercise

  1. Terri Gentile July 22, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    While the likelihood of a severe nuclear accident in this country is low,In the event, it would be a disaster

  2. Garry Morgan July 10, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    In your exercise scenario please inform those pesky gas, “hot particles” and contaminated coolant emissions to pay particular attention to the 10 mile zone, I’m sure the wind, weather and radioactive emissions will obey command and control’s every wishes. Maximum sarcasm intended for your unrealistic Emergency Planning Zones. .

  3. X-posed July 10, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Interesting name choice for the exercise — isn’t “exposure” what we’d want to avoid?

  4. Anonymous July 10, 2015 at 9:00 am

    I am glad you plan to have a fully integrated exercise in the near future at this power reactor site.
    Do you have similar, smaller scale emergency exercises for the 31 test reactors located in 21 different states near large population centers? Security-related exercises involving the theft of Special Nuclear Material (SNM) and sabotage would be most appropriate. But as I understand it these test reactors are not even required to have an emergency plan let alone test it periodically. Also they are not required to have a plan to protect their reactors from a so-called security “Design Basis Threat” like power reactors must?! If so, the NRC is grossly negligent in their purported mission to protect the health and safety of the public!

    Nuke Puke

  5. CaptD July 9, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    If the NRC managers and staff members in headquarters were smart, they would surprise everyone and choose another NPP, which would make the exercise more realistic!

    I suggest they use San Onofre NPP, since it is now just being Decommissioned and they can try and determine why Unit 3 suffered FEI while Unit 2 did not. BTW: We know what the answers and have sent them to the NRC but the NRC still is not publicly accepting them. This exercise would be a perfect time to revisit what happened at San Onofre on 01/31/12 when Unit 3 started leaking reactor core coolant!

    More here: #SanOnofreGate The new hashtag that will allow you to keep up to date on the ongoing investigation into the $5 billion SCE-CPUC ripoff of SoCal ratepayers, caused when SCE’s in-house replacement steam generator program (RSG) design team decided to get a 50.59 instead of a 50.90, thanks to their cozy relationship with NRC Region IV.

    Here is a great trade article where one of SCE’s Engineers together with a colleague that worked for MHI bragged about all the “improvements” they made, any of which should have triggered a 50.90 review but the NRC remained mum. Note: It came out the very same month that Unit 3 started leaking ☢ reactor core coolant.

    Improving Like-For-Like Article: https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/347889/col-nrc-tech-paper.pdf

  6. Ken Clark July 9, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Will there be a Confederate flag flown outside the exercise headquarters?

    • Garry Morgan July 10, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      The 3rd official flag of the confederacy would be appropriate, “The Blood Stained Banner.” Please insure the NEI special interest flag is not flown higher than the Stars & Stripes.

      • Half-TruthSlayer July 13, 2015 at 10:32 am

        Gosh what a good comment Garry! The NEI and the nuke industry are pulling all the strings!
        Need to upgrade this site to have a “like” button. This comment deserves a number of them!

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