SCEMD practices response to nuclear disaster; 41 of SC’s 46 counties located in emergency zone


WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – Most South Carolinians live within a 50 mile radius of a nuclear plant, which is why emergency management and other key state agencies are constantly planning to respond to the worst.

Tuesday morning, Team South Carolina practiced the state’s response to a nuclear disaster.

It started with a call notifying emergency management that seismic activity took out the power at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

Emergency Management and representatives from other state agencies then participated in a conference call touching base with the plant itself and the surrounding counties.

“The worst case scenario would be some kind of nuclear release or radiation release that would require an evacuation in that 10 mile EPZ,” explained Kim Stenson, SCEMD director.

In the scenario Tuesday morning, evacuations were for the focus.

Stenson continued, “We have separate plans that discuss those differences and gets into details about specific shelter locations specific evacuation zones and specific evacuation routes.”

The Department of Health and Environmental Control is one of the agencies involved in a nuclear response. DHEC personnel monitors the plant and surrounding areas for radiation levels. The agency then issues recommendations based on those results.

In extreme cases, access to waterways would be restricted and residents could have to take iodine fight the radiation sickness.

“We care about every person in our state so we want to make sure depending on what’s transpiring that they are in the best position to protect themselves,” Tommy Crosby with DHEC explained.

All South Carolina counties, except for 5 on the coast, are within the 10-50 mile emergency planning zone of at least one nuclear plant.

“We take this seriously. we want to make sure they’re safe. we don’t think this is likely, but we have to prepare for that actuality,” added Stenson.

SCEMD runs these exercises once every 2 years for each of the 5 plants:

  • Catawba Nuclear Station in York
  • Robinson Nuclear Plant in Hartsville
  • Oconee Nuclear Station in Seneca
  • V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville
  • Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Waynesboro, GA

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