During the drill, plant and offsite teams participated in a real-time attack scenario designed to be as realistic as possible
- By Stephen Heiser -
A hostile-action security drill recently conducted at Entergy’s signals a new era in emergency preparedness for the nuclear industry and a higher level of public-private partnerships to protect the safety and health of the public.
“Hostile action” is an act toward a plant or its personnel that includes the use of violent force to destroy equipment, take hostages, or intimidate plant officials to achieve an end.
During the drill, plant and offsite teams participated in a real-time attack scenario designed to be as realistic as possible. The drill involved local law enforcement officers, state police SWAT teams, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, ambulance and medical response personnel and state and local emergency management agencies.
In addition, the Pope County Sheriff’s Office established an incident command post near the site to coordinate command and control functions with plant staff and outside agencies.
“Previously, local law enforcement performed peripheral duties during our emergency drills, such as traffic control,” said Bill Renz, director of emergency planning for Entergy Nuclear South. “Now these officers are actually demonstrating law enforcement services by helping secure the facilities and providing protection for personnel. We have received very positive comments on our use of the incident command structure in our drills.”
Security requirements at nuclear power plants have always been among the most intense of any industry. But the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, prompted the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to issue new rules calling for plants to more proactively address hostile-threat scenarios in their emergency preparedness programs. Before 2001, a small number of emergency exercises involved simulated hostile actions, but drills were limited in scope and outside participation. Today’s hostile-action drills are designed to demonstrate a plant’s ability to coordinate and integrate onsite security, operations, and emergency response personnel with a wide variety of offsite organizations.
“Training requirements for our security personnel since 2001 are up 300 percent from a commitment and time standpoint,” Renz said. “We’ve also built a broader base with offsite stakeholders, and the real benefit is that they’ve gained a greater appreciation of how their contributions make our plants safer.”The nuclear industry began voluntarily conducting hostile-action drills three years ago to prepare for new regulatory requirements, in addition to completing tabletop drills required by the NRC during the pilot phase.
The NRC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin formally evaluating drills in 2012. Plants will be required to conduct hostile-action drills every six years, in addition to biennial emergency exercises that simulate response efforts during radiological events.
Entergy Nuclear plants host annual site familiarization training for law enforcement agencies and emergency management groups to strengthen connections and provide opportunities for questions, discussions and improved drill preparations and teamwork.
All 10 of Entergy’s nuclear sites have completed tabletop drills, and all but three have completed full-scale hostile-action drills. In addition to ANO, other Entergy plants planning to complete drills by year’s end are River Bend Station in St. Francisville, La., and Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y.So far, Entergy’s hostile-action drills have received positive marks from the NRC, FEMA, the Nuclear Energy Institute and other industry groups on hand to observe and provide feedback.
“We are pleased with the progress we’ve made in establishing our hostile-action drill program, especially our successful partnerships with offsite agencies,” Renz said. “They have a better understanding of nuclear power and what’s required to keep our sites safe and to protect the safety and health of the public. Our goal is to constantly improve our emergency response capabilities and continue building on these relationships.”
Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $13 billion and approximately 14,700 employees.
Entergy Operations, Inc.’s online address is entergy-nuclear.com.
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