TVA: Sounding Better Than Ever

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TVA sirenIt was recently reported that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is spending $7 million to upgrade the emergency sirens around its Browns Ferry (Athens, AL), Sequoyah (Soddy-Daisy, TN), and Watts Bar (Spring City, TN) nuclear power plants.

For example, the 108 emergency sirens around Sequoyah are being replaced and four additional sirens installed for better coverage. The replacement sirens will be mounted on steel, rather than wooden poles, and will be provided with battery power as a backup in case the electrical grid is unavailable.

Kudos to TVA for this public safety investment. In event of a nuclear plant accident, authorities will activate the sirens to inform citizens of the need to evacuate or shelter for protection against radioactivity. TVA’s upgrade project makes the sirens more robust and reliable, improving the likelihood that the warning will be heard should that bad day ever arrive.

And TVA deserves recognition and credit for voluntarily improving the reliability of their emergency sirens.

For two other federal agencies – the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – are satisfied with the older sirens mounted on poles that may be toppled by high winds or earthquake activity and would remain silent unless the electrical power grid was available. These federal agencies only require that emergency sirens be installed. Having emergency sirens that might actually work when needed is optional.

The people of northern Alabama and Tennessee can take comfort in TVA opting for the new and improved sirens. The rest of the country can thank FEMA and NRC for the old and obsolete sirens that “protect” them in event of accidents.


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Posted in: Nuclear Power Safety Tags: , , , ,

About the author: Mr. Lochbaum received a BS in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1979 and worked as a nuclear engineer in nuclear power plants for 17 years. In 1992, he and a colleague identified a safety problem in a plant where they were working. When their concerns were ignored by the plant manager, the utility, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), they took the issue to Congress. The problem was eventually corrected at the original plant and at plants across the country. Lochbaum joined UCS in 1996 to work on nuclear power safety. He spent a year in 2009-10 working at the NRC Training Center in Tennessee. Areas of expertise: Nuclear power safety, nuclear technology and plant design, regulatory oversight, plant license renewal and decommissioning

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  • richard

    It is heartwarming to hear that TVA is doing this without being required to do so by the NRC and/or FEMA. Thanks for sharing some good news!