A Ohio-based nuclear power plant was shut down last Saturday evening following the failure of one of the plant’s four reactor cooler pumps. The spokesperson for the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power plant in Oak Harbor, Ohio said that no employees or community members were harmed and that the automatic shutdown occurred as it was supposed to. The plant was still shut down as of this morning and employees are still investigating the cause of the failure.
People were concerned there was an explosion at the plant Saturday night because as the safety precaution system kicked in, pressure valves released steam from the generators causing a loud popping noise, said Jennifer Young, spokesperson for plant operator FirstEnergy, to the Sandusky Register. Young assured that the steam released was non-radioactive and that the last time an event occurred like this was back in 2006. Simply put, steam turns the turbines which spin generators to create energy.
This seemingly safe episode coupled with the explosion two years ago at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Power Station in Japan indeed reminds us of the importance of preparedness-especially in areas and neighborhoods near nuclear power facilities. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission does send materials yearly to residents within a 10 mile radius of a plant that contains information on radiation exposure, shelter and evacuation information and additional contact information. Moreover, the USNRC has an Alert and Notification System that notifies individuals living within a 10 mile of authorities’ decisions to take protective actions within a 15 minute time period. The system typically uses sirens, tone-alert radios or route alerting. When residents receive an alert, they are to tune into a radio or television emergency alert system for further instructions. As always, having an emergency survival kit in your car and home is highly suggested so you and your loved ones are at the ready.
This recent and, thankfully, uneventful Davis-Besse situation does reinforce the need to be prepared at all times when you live within a nuclear power plant’s radius. Rethink your family’s emergency evacuation plan, what items are needed in case of an emergency and where you can go to in a disaster situation.