West Hartford simulates CT contamination incident response

What would occur if the Millstone nuclear power plant had been to meltdown?

It didn’t and it’s unlikely to, however to organize for such an emergency, West Hartford’s Fire Department and emergency services division held a drill Saturday to activate the city’s emergency shelter at Conard Excessive Faculty, within the occasion that the city needed to assess, decontaminate and accommodate individuals from Montville and Waterford who’ve evacuated the realm close to Millstone.

West Hartford businesses included the fireplace and police Departments, Workplace of Emergency Administration, Plant and Services Division, social providers, the West Hartford-Bloomfield Well being District and West Hartford Public Schools.


The train included about 150 workers and volunteers, in addition to role-players, portraying evacuees from Montville and Waterford. Personnel from FEMA, the state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the American Purple Cross, the Connecticut Division of Psychological Well being and Dependancy Providers, the Connecticut State Animal Response Workforce, the Connecticut Medical Response Corps, the Catastrophe Behavioral Well being Response Community, Dominion Power and the cities of Waterford and Montville participated.

The evacuation web site is designed to deal with as much as 3,500 evacuees.

Within the state of affairs, automobiles arriving with evacuees first move by means of a detection poles, and are designated “soiled” when contaminated with radioactive supplies, and “clear” if not. The soiled automobiles move by means of checkpoints arrange across the college constructing, manned by police and members of the West Hartford Group Emergency Response Workforce, or CERT, to additional consider the car and passengers.

Then, automobiles are left and de-contaminated, with evacuees escorted right into a the varsity’s small gymnasium, the place they move by means of a detection portal. If clear, the individuals head right into a the big gymnasium. If contaminated, they go into the decontamination tent, which incorporates showers. As soon as decontaminated, these evacuees proceed to the big gymnasium.

Within the giant gymnasium, the evacuees are first registered, then evaluated for wants. Some might have help discovering short-term residing areas, reuniting with household, or medical wants.

Faith Fuerst of the West Hartford C.E.R.T. explains how people will be assisted after being evacuated and clearing the decontamination process. (Steve Smith/Courant Community)

Steve Smith

Religion Fuerst of the West Hartford C.E.R.T. explains how individuals might be assisted after being evacuated and clearing the decontamination course of. (Steve Smith/Courant Group)

“Do they need assistance discovering family members? Have been they break up up?” mentioned Religion Fuerst, who was manning the registration desk. Evacuees could also be urged to take potassium iodide (KI) which protects the thyroid and different organs from the consequences of radiation. “Even when they haven’t detected radiation on you, it could actually nonetheless be on you,” Fuerst mentioned.

Medical professionals had been available to manage KI, if wanted.

“We might ask them a sequence of triage questions to find out in the event that they wanted to obtain potassium iodide,” mentioned Melissa Marquis, Public Well being Emergency Response Specialist with the West Hartford-Bloomfield Well being District. “We might ask them if they’ve any medical situations, and reply any questions that they’ve.”

Michael Firsick, supervising radiation management physicist for CT DEEP, mentioned residents inside 10 miles of a nuclear facility are within the Emergency Planning Zone, or EPZ, and periodically obtain directions on what to do in case an incident happens. If it had been to happen, DEEP and the power would notify the governor.

“What DEEP does is have a look at the potential amount of radioactive materials, the place it’s popping out, course and wind velocity, after which we get a protecting motion advice from the station, and we make a protecting motion advice that we offer to the governor,” Firsick mentioned. “It’s his determination to shelter in place or to evacuate.”

“Considered one of issues I really like about these workouts is the collaboration between the municipality, state businesses and federal businesses,” mentioned Brenda Bergeron, deputy commissioner of the state Division of Emergency Providers and Homeland Safety. She added that different workouts are carried out within the EPZs to apply the facilitation of evacuations.

The federal businesses, Bergeron mentioned, are there to guage the train, but it surely’s additionally a really “working relationship.”

Ingrid Pierce, FEMA Area 1 (Boston) Technological Hazards Department chief, mentioned that West Hartford is being evaluated for the day, however it isn’t a graded or move/fail kind of take a look at.

“We have a look at just about the whole lot. We’ve got a set of standards that’s deliberate upfront, so everybody is aware of what we’re going to be , and we now have evaluators at each station,” Pierce mentioned. “The aim of doing that is to verify the city is ready to implement their plans. We at all times attempt to work with them to see if there are any areas for enchancment.”

Firsick mentioned that the potential for a Chernobyl-type accident is extraordinarily small, due to the way in which American nuclear vegetation are designed – at all times containing the nuclear materials.

“The entire measures hold all the radioactive materials within the plant,” he mentioned.

Bergeron mentioned the take a look at and its analysis will allow Connecticut and West Hartford to extra simply get catastrophe declarations if wanted, and federal catastrophe funding.

“Monitoring the whole lot, and the city conserving monitor of their bills, helps us decide whether or not or not we are able to ask for a significant catastrophe declaration,” Bergeron mentioned. “So, we now have to color the image of how extreme it was – how many individuals come by means of, what number of meals got out, how a lot time beyond regulation bills had been, and issues like that – all of that goes into whether or not we are able to ask for a Presidential catastrophe declaration for an occasion.”