Officials: Oyster Creek Drill Successful

An imagined plume of radiation is on a map at the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

LACEY – The scenario is pretty frightening: a plume of radiation has escaped Oyster Creek Generating Station.

Fortunately, it was only a drill, and according to the people grading the test, local officials passed with flying colors, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Committee.

A warning to emergency workers is on a corkboard at the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

There was a three-day “Full Scale Plume/Ingestion Pathway Radiological Emergency Preparedness Exercise” throughout local towns recently. The plume was imagined to stretch 10 miles from the plant, then 50 miles. At that point, the “Ingestion” part of the drill came in. Officials had to collect data and determine whether the agriculture in the vicinity would be safe to consume.

There were 239 criteria upon which they were judged, said Susan O’Neill, chair of the Regional Assistance Committee for FEMA’s Region 2. It included calculating the dosage of radiation in various areas and communicating important information to officials and residents.


The municipalities that were tested included: Ship Bottom, Ocean Township, Pine Beach, Barnegat, Beachwood, Berkeley, Toms River, Harvey Cedars, Island Heights, Long Beach Township, Lacey, Ocean Gate, Barnegat Light, Seaside Park, South Toms River, Stafford, and Surf City.

Susan O’Neill, FEMA’s Regional Assistance Committee chair, speaks about the drill. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

“We’re very impressed,” she said. “The staff was well trained. They went above and beyond.”

The findings were released at the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management, at the Robert J. Miller Airpark in Berkeley. Officials noted that these were preliminary findings, and that the full report will be released in 90 days. It was a public meeting, but no members of the public attended.

While FEMA oversaw the public agencies’ responses, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was judging the reactions of Exelon, the plant’s owner.

A list of evacuation centers and their capacities hangs on the wall at the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

Josephine Ambrosini, emergency preparedness inspector for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that inspectors were in five key spots inside Oyster Creek. They observed the reactions of the employees on duty and they responded correctly.

“Reasonable assurance exists that Exelon can effectively implement the Oyster Creek Emergency Plan to adequately protect the public health and safety in the event of a radiological emergency at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant,” she said as part of her presentation.