On Monday, the exercise began with the mock release of radioactive steam into the surrounding area of the Dukovany power plant in what will be one of the largest emergency drills in the Czech Republic in recent memory. The aim is to test the readiness of the various agencies involved in nuclear safety and disaster prevention and coordinate how they would respond in the event of a real nuclear accident. The head of the fire fighters’ emergency rescue brigade Drahoslav Ryba told Czech Radio more:
“Above all, the aim is to coordinate steps between the central emergency task force and regional response units – within the framework of the country’s integrated emergency rescue system and we will test the evacuation of individuals to shelters.”
Sirens within a 20 kilometre radius of the nuclear power plant could be heard on Tuesday with the drill taking place largely around the plant: some 900 employees were ordered to take shelter in seven on-site bunkers for an hour (the bunkers are otherwise equipped to house staff for several hours or even days, to wait for the arrival of special busses to evacuate those inside in the event of a real accident). Dana Drábová, the chairwoman of the State Agency for Nuclear Safety, says the three-day exercise will show just how effectively emergency staff would work to contain or limit the impact in a real disaster situation.
“During the drill, the real reactions of the crews – on hand to limit damage and save lives in the vicinity of the power plant – will be monitored. First the mock accident at the plant itself has to be contained: that is for the employees as well as officials.“The rest is up to the different units within the integrated rescue system: the police, the army, and others who work to help those in surrounding areas and prevent the situation from getting out of control.”
According to Ms Drábová, members of four nearby villages are also taking part in the three-day exercise; all the results of the Dukovany drill will then be analysed over several weeks; the exercise itself ends on Thursday.