MORRIS, Ill. (July 6, 2015) - In the midst of devastating, tornadic storms on June 22, Exelon Generation's state-of-the-art emergency siren upgrades around its nuclear generating facilities were an operational success. They may have also helped save lives.
The multi-million dollar upgrade project was designed to enhance the sirens, which are used for emergency public notification, in the vicinity of each of the nuclear generating stations. The Braidwood and Dresden nuclear generating facility upgrades were completed last year. Upgrades at LaSalle Station finished June 15. The timing could not have been better.
All three plants, which were in or near the path of a string of tornadoes on June 22, continued full power operations throughout the storms. More importantly, the state-of-the-art emergency siren systems surrounding these plants played a big part in warning residents of the impending tornadic weather.
"When tornadoes approach and the counties activate those sirens, we expect them to work and we expect our residents to hear them and take shelter," said Grundy County Emergency Management Director Joe Schroeder, who is helping with the recovery in Coal City and other affected communities in the county. "The sirens did their part during the storms and all of our residents survived. The loss of homes and property is great for some in our area, but thankfully we are all still here."
Residents credit advance weather reports and emergency sirens for keeping the public up to date on the severe weather. County emergency managers agree, noting the few extra minutes allowed residents to reach the right type of shelter to take cover. All of the sirens operated as expected during the storm, either on normal power or switching to backup batteries in order to operate.
Advanced warning on June 22 likely helped save lives and limit injuries. Exelon is now joining a host of organizations and hundreds of volunteer to help with the recovery effort.
The day after the tornadoes, Braidwood Station employees delivered more than 500 pounds of food to United Methodist Church in Coal City and hundreds of pounds of food to Diamond Banquet Hall in Diamond, a staging area for recovery efforts. Dresden and LaSalle stations also contributed food as well as hundreds of pairs of work gloves, safety vests, garbage bags and other cleanup materials to assist in the volunteer restoration events. Exelon employees from near and far took part in volunteer cleanup events Thursday through Sunday.
Exelon has committed $25,000 to the American Red Cross for disaster relief efforts in Illinois. In addition, to maximize our employees' generosity, Exelon will match employee contributions to non-profit organizations as part of our matching gifts program.
Exelon's siren upgrade project involved removing select small sirens and installing more efficient sirens that have improved sound coverage and use battery back-up in the rare case of power interruption. A total of 109 sirens with battery back-up are now installed in the 10-mile emergency planning zones of Braidwood, Dresden and LaSalle stations.
"The sirens are a key piece of Exelon Generation's emergency plan and they bring added benefits to the counties in which each station resides," said Kim Aleshire, Exelon Generation's emergency preparedness manager. "The siren system upgrade strengthens the ability to alert the public in the event of plant emergency or local weather related emergency."
Exelon Generation pays for the installation and maintenance of these sirens, though individual counties are the primary users. The sirens, which are a signal to tune to the local Emergency Alert Station, warn area residents of impending tornados, floods, fires, hazardous material releases or other threatening events.
The sirens are not a signal to evacuate. In an actual emergency, like the June 22 storms, residents should tune to one of the county Emergency Alert System radio or television stations for further information on the specific emergency. Additional information on emergency preparedness is also available at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency web site, www.illinois.gov/iema.
Braidwood, Dresden and LaSalle Stations generate enough combined electricity for more than 6 million homes. To learn more about the vital role nuclear plays in supplying electricity to Illinois and the tremendous benefits it provides to families and communities visit www.nuclearpowersillinois.com.