Participants in nuclear release scenario await their test results

Hope Creek/WDEL File

You probably were never aware of it, but for seven hours people and agencies that have the responsibility of protecting the safety of Delawareans were taking part in a realistic drill simulating a nuclear mishap.

Now that they've been through the test, how did they do?

Three days after the drill, representatives of several agencies gathered Friday in Dover for a discussion about the biennial exercise at the Salem Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station. It simulated a break-in at the plant leading to a release of radiation, with the wind carrying the radiation over Delaware.

According to Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 3 Technological Hazards Branch Chief Tom Scardino, FEMA evaluated the performance of various first-responding agencies while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewed the performance of personnel within the plant.

Scardino said the exercise turned up some equipment issues he described as "minor," but overall it found a number of positives in the performance of state, county and local governments and agencies.

"Coordination is a big piece of the overall response, not only coordination between two states but county and state governments, and federal government," Scardino said. The ability to alert the public and handle evacuations also was put to the test.

"The National Guard had a robust participation in what we call an evacuee reception center. They were responsible to run that at the Smyrna Readiness Center. They did a phenomenal job and got a lot of kudos from the evaluation team," Scardino said.

The Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program was created by FEMA to ensure that the health and safety of people who live and work near commercial nuclear plants would be adequately protected in the event of a release or an accident and that the public would be adequately informed and educated about preparedness for a radiological emergency.

FEMA's findings will be published in about 90 days and will be made available to the public. Written comments may be submitted by e-mail to FEMAR3NewsDesk@fema.dhs.gov or by mail to:

MaryAnn Tierney

Regional Administrator

FEMA Region III

615 Chestnut Street, 6th floor

Philadelphia PA 19106