Parish readies for nuclear evacuation drill

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

FERRIDAY &045; Every six years those at and around Grand Gulf Nuclear Station have to prepare for the worst and prove their coping ability to the federal government.

In the event of a radiological release from the station, Concordia Parish has to be ready and able to accept evacuees from Tensas Parish. Starting tonight the department of Emergency Preparedness will train area volunteers to man a designated reception center at Ferriday High School for a test run later this month.

Concordia Parish Director of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security Morris White said anyone can volunteer for the training, but past volunteers have included fire and police officials, hospital personnel and emergency responders.

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Volunteers will need to attend two of three, two-hour training sessions tonight through Thursday.

During the exercise and any real events, volunteers will locate in the FHS gym where they will use radiation detectors to scan all incoming cars and people. People deemed clean would be placed in temporary housing by the Red Cross, the Council on Aging and social services. Those with any radiation on them would be lead to showers.

The FHS site is the initial reception center that must be passed before evacuees can go further into the parish or to a hospital.

A practice run will be held at 6 p.m. on March 15 at the FHS gym and the exercise will be on at 5 p.m. March 22.

White said the public was invited to participate and watch the trial runs.

&uot;I don’t believe you can get enough education on protecting the public,&uot; White said.

Tensas Parish, other participants in Louisiana and Mississippi, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are all having trial runs of necessary actions if a Grand Gulf release were to occur.

The federal government will review the Concordia group at the March 22 exercise. White said if the exercise does not meet government approval, more training and more exercises will have to take place.

Tonight’s meeting is from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Concordia Training Center, 120 Training Center Road, Ferriday. The meetings will continue Wednesday and Thursday nights at the same time and place.

A meal will be served at 5:30 p.m., but those who want to eat should notify the office of Emergency Preparedness at 318-757-8248.