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Bucks County Takes Part In Nuclear Power Plant Emergency Drill

Limerick Generating Station
Credit: Arturo Ramos

Bucks County emergency responders reacted to a mock accident at a Montgomery County nuclear energy facility.

The Bucks County Emergency Operations Center in Ivyland was activated on November 14 as part of a region-wide drill to test an evaluate preparedness for a potential accident at the Limerick Generating Station.

Bucks County COO Brian Hessenthaler told the Commissioners recently that that the drill takes place every two years and involves Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties. The drill was observed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).

“These drills are held every other year to evaluate government’s ability to protect public health and safety,” said MaryAnn Tierney, regional administrator for FEMA Region III. “We will assess state and local emergency response capabilities within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone of the nuclear facility, within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

If a true nuclear incident would happen at the Limerick Township power generation facility, Bucks County responders would be called into action. The county would host reception stations and shelters in a large-scale disaster, Hessenthaler said.

The Limerick Generating Station containes a two-unit boiling water reaction facility that has the capability to produce enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes. The Exelon Corporation-operated facility features two large cooling towers that measure over 500 feet in height.

In the new year, FEMA will send a copy of their post-drill report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for use in licensing decisions, Tierney said.

The nuclear power plant is currently licensed to operate to the mid-part of the 21st century.

On a clear, cool day, the steam from the cooling towers can be spotted from high points in Lower Bucks County.

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for five years for both newspaper and online publications. In 2012, Tom was honored at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation's Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of President Obama's visit to Falls Township in 2011. When he's not covering news in the area, Tom enjoys checking out the newest restaurants and bars, exploring forgotten places of industry in the area, going to local parks and spending time with his friends and family. If there's one thing you should know about Tom, he is a local news junkie through and through. Email: Phone: 215-431-1001