The district administration conducted the mandatory biennial off-site emergency preparedness drill at Parameshwarapuram, about 9 km away from Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) site, on Friday to ascertain instant response of official machinery and public living close to the upcoming nuclear park in case of any emergency.

This is the third drill conducted to remind the people of villages close to the KKNPP of the things to be done during emergencies inside the nuclear park. Earlier, the drills were conducted at Nakkaneri (June 9, 2012) and Irukkanthurai (January 31, 2015).

After KKNPP Site Director S.V. Jinna declared ‘plant emergency’ at 7.15 a.m. and subsequent ‘site emergency’ at 7.46 a.m., Collector Sandeep Nanduri was informed through hotline and he, in turn, alerted all vital departments, including revenue, health, transport, animal husbandry and police, to assemble at Parameshwarapuram.

Meanwhile, the plant administration declared Grade I, II and III emergency based on the nature of the ‘mishap’, which means that people living in nearby villages should remain indoors first, take iodine tablets and then get evacuated to the nearest Disaster Management Rescue Centre, following the third stage.

Hence, 220 villagers, including 180 women, were taken in five Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation buses to the rescue centre at Chettikulam, where they were kept until the ‘emergency’ was withdrawn. Their health parameters were examined by a team of doctors and paramedics.

“As per Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s guidelines, we’re conducting this exercise once in two years to educate the public and refresh our officials on the things to be done in case of emergency at the KKNPP site,” the Collector said.

Mr. Nanduri said: “The government departments, plant authorities and the public worked cohesively after the off-site emergency was declared at 9.10 a.m. to evacuate the people to safety within the shortest possible time.”

The drill could become an annual affair as per the revised guidelines being prepared by National Disaster Management Authority, an arm of the Ministry of Home Affairs, whose primary purpose was to coordinate response to natural and man-made disasters and build capacity in disaster resiliency and crisis response, KKNPP officials said.

Mr. Jinna said release of “contaminated air through a valve” led to the declaration of plant and site emergency.
Source: The Hindu