In 2016, the County and many other local and State agencies successfully demonstrated their ability to protect public health and safety in the event of a nuclear power plant emergency.
As part of the Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) Program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) evaluates the County’s ability to respond to a nuclear power plant emergency. This program includes oversight of procedures, training and equipment as well as numerous exercise evaluations.
One of these exercises occurred on Nov. 2, 2016. In coordination with this exercise, the County Office of Emergency Services (OES) updated Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and trained local and State responders to implement those plans in case of an emergency related to Diablo Canyon Power Plant.
“Our emergency services team worked extremely hard to prepare for this exercise to ensure that our plans and response agencies were prepared for this type of response.,” said County Emergency Services Manager Ron Alsop. “This extensive exercise involved very challenging processes and required many long hours and hard work, but it was ultimately worth it because it proved how well-prepared agencies in San Luis Obispo County are to deal with any sort of emergency coming from Diablo Canyon Power Plant.”
The 2016 exercise evaluation lasted three days and focused on extensive response criteria involving local, State and Federal response agencies. The extended length of the exercise allowed all responding agencies in San Luis Obispo County to demonstrate additional response actions and coordinate with agencies that do not regularly participate in the biennial exercise.
The first day of the exercise specifically tested the County’s and other agencies’ ability to monitor and analyze potential radioactive releases, make protective actions decisions, and implement those decisions. Coordination and communication is a key aspect of the exercise, so the evaluation also focused on internal communications between response facilities and communication with the public.
The second and third days of the exercise focused on protection of the food supply as well as re-entry, return, and relocation. This phase of the response involves numerous State and Federal partners, as well as the neighboring counties of Monterey and Santa Barbara, which all participated in the exercise.
The exercise required the coordination of hundreds of responders staffing response facilities around San Luis Obispo County.
Response Facilities included:
- The County Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center
- The City of Pismo Beach Emergency Operations Center
- Port San Luis Harbor District
- The County Office of Education Departments Operations Center
- County Fire/Cal Fire Emergency Command Center
- County Public Health Department Operations Center
- County Public Works Department Operations Center
- Diablo Canyon Power Plant Response Facilities
Across the country, FEMA provides oversight and evaluation of agencies who would respond should there be an emergency at a commercial nuclear power plant. This oversight helps ensure that there is reasonable assurance that the public’s health and safety is provided for. FEMA’s Final After Action Report did not identify any findings during the evaluation.