Practice Makes Perfect: Nuclear Emergency Preparedness

Duke Energy always expects its nuclear site to operate safely, it's the number one priority — and because of that priority, each site drills and practices multiple times a year to prepare for the unlikely event of a nuclear station emergency.  

These drills and practices are part of an emergency preparedness plan, which is a collaborative effort between Duke Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission state and local government and emergency response officials — including fire departments, hospitals, law enforcement, and local schools — as well as several hundred employees. The partnerships with these agencies are continuously developed during drills and exercises. Each nuclear site has at least five drills a year and graded exercises every other year.

The exercises not only test Duke Energy’s ability to appropriately respond to an emergency event, but also the coordination of the state and county agencies. Regular exercises ensure that in the unlikely event of an emergency at a nuclear power plant, information would flow freely between Duke Energy, the state and the counties; plant personnel would follow procedures to safely shut down the affected units; and the public would receive the appropriate information to ensure their safety.

Exercises are preceded by months of detailed planning between Duke Energy, the state and the counties. Duke Energy and partner offsite agencies sit on a task force to work out the details of the emergency preparedness plan, and the plan is regularly updated based on changes to area population, infrastructure and industry operating experience.

In the unlikely event of an emergency, Duke Energy would make recommendations to the state and county, but the counties and state have responsibility for the sounding of sirens, evacuations and public recommendations.

Neighbors living within the 10-mile emergency planning zone (EPZ) around nuclear stations receive an emergency planning calendar every year, which contains valuable information, such as reception centers and important contact information. Duke Energy also provides emergency information to hotels, schools and on our Nuclear Emergency Preparedness website.

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