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Friday, June 17, 2011 - 11:55am

Nuclear Site Plans Emergency Drill

Officials at the Savannah River Site near Augusta are working on a facility-wide emergency drill. The goal is to gauge how effectively workers can respond during a natural disaster.

In Augusta Thursday, SRS officials told members of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board they will use data from Japan's nuclear crisis to plan the drill.

SRS conducts emergency exercises at individual facilities within the 300 square mile site. But it’s been nearly a decade since SRS conducted a drill that involved the entire site.

Board chairman Peter S. Winokur said despite the challenges, it needs to happen as soon as possible.

"We’ve seen in the press tornadoes and the kinds of things that can happen. I mean they’re very devastating and shocking and it’s my gut sense that this is very difficult to do especially at a site this complex. But in the end I’ll certainly be interested in getting a sense of just where you think you are in this process right now."

The drill will account for potential damage to the tons of nuclear waste housed at the site. It will also look at reducing effects of radioactive releases on workers and the public.

Local hospitals and Emergency Management Agencies will be involved.

Officials say it will likely take more than a year to plan.