THE KALPAKKAM OFF-SITE EMERGENCY EXERCISE-2019
Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Kalpakkam Centre has many units functioning at Kalpakkam like Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) under Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (under construction by BHAVINI), BARC Facilities, etc. As per Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) regulations, Off-Site Emergency Exercise is conducted at Kalpakkam DAE Centre once in two years as part of its Emergency Preparedness plan. This exercise was conducted today (27/09/2019) in the 16-km emergency planning zone surrounding Kalpakkam site.
The exercise was conducted in the public domain by District Disaster Management Agency (DDMA) under the leadership of the District Collector, Kancheepuram, Thiru P. Ponniah, I.A.S., who is also the Incident Commander. Technical inputs for exercise were provided by Kalpakkam Emergency Committee (KEC) headed by Shri M. Srinivas, Station Director, Madras Atomic Power Station who is also the Site Emergency Director (SED). The objective of this exercise is to check the preparedness of Kancheepuram District Administration and the DAE Site Management in meeting any emergency situation, despite the fact that such an occurrence is most unlikely in a Nuclear Power Plant because of the “Defence in Depth” philosophy in the design and operation of the plant.
The exercise was conducted as command-and-control type exercise without disturbing the normal life of general public in the district. For the first time in the conduct of such exercises, the entire scenario and the event timelines were kept as complete surprise in order to enhance the realism in the response of officials of both DAE and DDMA. Adequate care was taken to keep the public well informed of the exercise.
During the exercise, a specific incident scenario at Madras Atomic Power Station was enacted in a compressed timeframe. KEC authorities implemented protective actions at Kalpakkam site. After the event escalated, SED declared off-site emergency and informed incident commander (District collector, Kancheepuram). DDMA took charge of handling the off-site scenario. Based on the prevailing weather conditions, the villages of Meiyur, Kunnathur, Neeradi, Vengambakkam, Arambakkam, and Neikuppi were considered for protective actions and necessary steps were carried out by DDMA based on the advice of SED.
District officials from Revenue, Rural development, Police, Health, Fire & Rescue Services, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Transport, and Public Relations participated in the exercise. As part of the exercise, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Arakkonam also participated.
The exercise was carried out in accordance with Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Plans of DAE and DDMA. Around 15 senior officials from NDMA, AERB, NDRF and NPCIL observed the exercise and expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the exercise during the feedback session.
Speaking to the press/media personnel after the conclusion of the exercise, the District Collector informed that the exercise has further strengthened the capabilities of DDMA in handling nuclear emergencies, with more focus on command and control activities. He added that great care was taken not to inconvenience the general public and there was no disturbance to normal life including traffic movement. During the interaction, Thiru N. Sundaramoorthy, District Revenue Officer, Kancheepuram, Thiru N. Selvam, Revenue Divisional Officer, Chengalpattu, and senior officials of DDMA and MAPS were present.