In 2008, Entergy completed a $30 million upgrade to its Alert Notification System (ANS). There are two primary components that help alert the public to an emergency:
New sirens audio.
Both methods of notification are to alert residents and businesses in the EPZ to tune into one of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) stations (local radio and TV) to receive information and instructions related to the emergency.
When the ANS is activated, the sirens in the Emergency Planning Zone sound. If a siren does not sound, a reverse telephone notification system can be used to notify residents in the affected areas Tone alert radios and a Web-based notification system, NY-Alert, are also used to supplement notification efforts.
The sirens are an outdoor alert system to make residents within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) aware that they need to tune into one of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio and/or television stations for important information.
In the event of an emergency, local broadcast stations that serve the EPZ would interrupt programming to provide the alert and necessary “next step” information to residents. A list of EAS stations is included in the emergency planning information booklet distributed by the counties to all residents and businesses in the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone. They are also listed on the Indian Point Energy Center website at http://www.safesecurevital.org/emergency-preparednessas well as the four counties’ emergency planning websites.
The sirens in Indian Point’s system possess full diagnostic capabilities to ensure emergency planners are aware of any system faults or failures. These 172 sirens are distributed in the EPZ as follows:
There are several ways to activate the siren system: radio signal, cellular system, and an internet-based method. Each siren is battery powered to ensure continuous operation—even during a local power outage. Each county has two locations from which they can activate the sirens and monitor their function.
One of the many benefits of the new siren system is the ability to test and monitor the performance of each siren, and the communications link to them, in a manner that is virtually inaudible to residents—it’s called silent testing. During a silent test, the public may hear the sirens make a popping sound followed by a high-pitched tone, similar to turning on a speaker.
Significant enhancements have been included in the construction of the new Alert Notification System for Indian Point—enhancements that go above and beyond battery power. Construction of the new system included technologies which further increase the notification system’s functionality and effectiveness.
A reverse telephone notification system, such as Code-RED™, has been implemented to notify areas where sirens reportedly have not sounded. The use of this system ensures that affected residents can be notified within a short time.
The system is a high-speed telephone communication service that employs internet mapping capability which enables the counties to target calls based on geographic location.
This system has proven very successful in other parts of the country, especially in Florida where it has been used to contact hundreds of thousands of residents during hurricane threats.
Code-RED™ or similar systems may be used by the counties and have worked well during past notification emergencies. Residents within the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) can register their phone numbers with their own county’s Emergency Management Office.
To supplement the new siren system, in selected areas, some residents and facilities have been offered Tone Alert Radios. In accordance with the ANS design report, locations being offered Tone Alert Radios fall within selected areas that may have reduced acoustic coverage, even though they may be within the audible range of the sirens. The radios are tuned to WHUD and are tested on a regular basis by the station.
Although not part of the Alert Notification System at this time, Entergy encourages all residents to sign up for NY-Alert (http://www.nyalert.gov). It is an all hazard alert system operated by New York State that issues important emergency information on weather events, traffic events and nuclear power plant information. They can issue messages via e-mail, text message, phone calls, etc.