Lake Norman & Mooresville

Disaster plan revision under way

The unthinkable has been on local residents' minds since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear-plant troubles in Japan started last month.

But Duke Energy is making sure residents know McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville is a safe and secure operation.

"We constantly review procedures and processes, evaluate plant equipment and performance and conduct preventive maintenance to ensure we always operate safely and reliably," said Valerie Patterson, Duke Energy spokeswoman at McGuire Nuclear Station.

Mooresville has a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan in case of an incident at McGuire.

A major portion of Mooresville is outside a 10-mile radius from McGuire, and it's because of this distance that one of the primary roles of the town's emergency services is to make sure people can get out of the area as quickly as possible.

The emergency plan was last updated in June 2007. Mooresville Fire Chief Wes Greene is revising and updating the plan, as some roles and personnel have changed.

"Just a basic update," he said, one that should be done every few years to ensure everything is up to date.

Greene expects the update will be completed by fall.

"There is a lot of anxiety right now, so I want to reassure our citizens there is no cause for alarm," said Greene.

Greene said Iredell County and town emergency-operations plans dictate how to respond if there is a nuclear emergency.

According to Greene, Mooresville's emergency plan is fully integrated with all the other counties and municipalities surrounding Lake Norman and Iredell County, so that if an emergency arises, all counties and municipalities know their roles.

In addition, the plan outlines the roles and responsibilities for everybody involved, from city leaders to first responders.

According to Greene, if an emergency were large enough, both sides of Interstate 77 would become a thoroughfare for northbound traffic.

Crews would divert traffic to the rest stops north of Exit 36, where cars and trucks could drive through portable radiation scanners.

If radiation levels were high enough, the vehicles would be scrubbed to decontaminate them.

Along with the drive-through scanners, the emergency response teams in Mooresville also have hand-held Geiger counters and radiation detectors small enough to fit into a shirt pocket.

Mooresville would also host a shelter at South Iredell High School. This shelter primarily would be a place for people to stay short-term.

However, Mooresville could also set up first-aid and triage centers if necessary, said Greene.