Illinois Drills For Cordova Nuclear Emergency - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Illinois Drills For Cordova Nuclear Emergency

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Every two years Illinois sets up a drill at each of it's nuclear power plants.

Testing the emergency response at all levels of government.

The Quad Cities took its turn today reacting as if something had gone wrong at the Cordova nuclear power plant's cooling systems.

There are 6,300 people living within ten miles of the nuclear power plant on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.

That's the area the state prioritizes in case an accident happens at the power plant, and will evacuate if needed.

For many people living there though, the power plant is just another part of life.

"It's just another part of the town, it's not something you think about every day," says lifelong Cordova resident Ashley Benedict.

Her mother works at the power plant. It's normal, an emergency is not what people think about.

"It's nothing that you drill for, at least not the people drill for," says Benedict.

She's never practiced an emergency plan, but the state practices one for her every two years.

"It just helps us improve as we go," says IEMA Operations Chief Trent Thompson.

He says these drills ensure the actors in an emergency know their roles. Because in an actual emergency, there's no time to rehearse.

"Identifying what the incident is going to cause for us to give us the most reaction time to ensure that public safety is first and foremost," says Thompson.

In the state's mobile command center Thompson works with representatives from all different groups. State police, Department of Transportation, EPA. Coordinating where emergency crews go, and how people on the ground react.

"You have a constant turnover of personnel, it happens throughout all levels of government and entities, as long as you maintain a good education and training program, when the real deal happens we're already practiced at it," says Thompson.

Port Byron resident Pat Hamilton says,

"I suppose it wouldn't hurt, but we're all kind of living under the assumption nothing is going to happen."

She chooses to leave the emergency planning to the officials. She knows there's risk living near a nuclear power plant. She says it's a risk she can live with.

"We have enough things to worry about rather than making things up," says Hamilton.

The power company sends out emergency planning information in a brochure every year to people living inside the 10 mile emergency zone.

Illinois is also offering free potassium iodide pills to those same residents.

FEMA will be grading the exercise.

It'll present its preliminary findings on Friday at the power plant's training station at two.

The meeting is open to the public.