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Emergency Response Tests Conducted At San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

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SANTA ANA (CBS) — Emergency and public health workers from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties will take part in a drill to test emergency responses at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, tomorrow.

Southern California radiation experts and emergency workers will take part in a secret drill exercise that will simulate a radioactive leak that goes beyond the plant’s boundaries and into the community. Workers will test emergency shut-down procedures and practice securing radioactive fuel rods. Other officials will gather at a Joint Information Center, where they will simulate news conferences and practice how to disseminate information in case of a disaster.

The exercise is done every other year but has taken on added significance this year because of the disaster in Japan.

“One of the key steps is to know the resources in your local jurisdiction,” said Tina Walker, a spokesman for the California Emergency Management Agency.  “The best way someone can protect themselves and their family is to know your local resources. Speak to your local officials on emergency planning and once you get that information under your belt you’ll be prepared for anything.”

The California Emergency Management Agency will coordinate the test at the two nuclear reactors starting Tuesday, and end Thursday.  The organization hopes to calm public fear about radioactive leaks as the earthquake-crippled Fukushima reactor in Japan continues to stoke anxiety.

Officials from The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will hold a meeting at 4 p.m. Friday at the Capistrano Unified School District offices in San Juan Capistrano to give the public a  “snapshot” view of how the drills went, said FEMA spokesman John Hamill.  In three months, FEMA will issue its “report card” on the drill, Hamill said.

San Onofre’s two reactors generate 2.1 billion watts of electricity when operating at full capacity. Both units were returned to 99 percent operations this year, after extensive rebuilding projects.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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