The Virginia Department of Emergency Management plans the decommission of North Anna Nuclear Power Station’s alert sirens and a switch to wireless alerts.
The sirens have been a fixture within a 10-mile radius of the plant since they were installed in 1981. Residents hear them once each quarter on Wednesday mornings when they are tested.
The sirens will stay in place until early 2022. Dominion Energy and VDEM plan a targeted media campaign to alert people of the switchover before it occurs. Once the transfer takes place, the sirens will be removed.
Several members of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors voiced concerns about the proposal at the Oct. 18 meeting.
Supervisor Duane Adams (Mineral District) encouraged VDEM to look at the timeline, as he felt it should not be done as soon as they are anticipating. He also expressed his concern with the lack of cell service in several affected areas in Louisa, since residents would have to rely on their phones to receive alerts.
Supervisor Toni Williams (Jackson) wanted to enable the wireless Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, but leave the sirens in place and not maintain them. Letting the sirens fail on their own would not cost the county money, he said.
The use of wireless alerts is not new to the area. The same system is used to issue Amber and severe weather alerts to people in an impacted area. The power station has been using the alerts along with the sirens for some time.
Many people do not know to tune in to a local TV or radio station when the sirens sound, VDEM says. Officials add that the sirens’ efficiency has decreased over the years because not as many people know their purpose.
A study conducted to test the effectiveness of the sirens found that 45 percent of 148 Louisa County residents who participated have heard the sirens. Of this number, only 41 percent knew what to do in a real emergency.