A disaster drill pays off at the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant in Monticello, MN

The Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant (Photo from XcelEnergy.com)

The main goal of the U-SEEE research project that I work on is to determine how emergency responder training histories and work experience contribute to performance in response to actual disasters. What I have heard from many responders throughout the project is that sometimes emergency responses are hindered by impossible logistics, lack of equipment, and malfunctioning equipment – no amount of prior training or experience could have prevented some aspects of the emergency response.

I was reminded of this as I read in today’s Star Tribune that an emergency preparedness drill conducted at Xcel Energy’s Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant in Monticello, MN had detected a defunct sprinkler system in one of the plant’s buildings. While the sprinkler system was not in a reactor building, this discovery reminds us of the need to conduct emergency preparedness drills and exercises, not only to test and train our brave emergency responders, but also to ensure the proper functioning of equipment that can dramatically influence the outcome of a disaster response.