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Professionals in Columbiana Co. practice nuclear disaster simulation

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LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – For five hours on Tuesday, a simulation helped train people in Columbiana County on how to handle an accident at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant in nearby Shippingport, Pennsylvania.

Since parts of Columbiana County are within ten miles of the plant, the county is required to hold exercises every two years.

“We would get a notification from the power plant that they’re experiencing some sort of safety issue that we would need to start responding to,” said Peggy Clark, Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency Director.

Twenty miles away from the five ominous-looking nuclear towers lining the Ohio River, 50 people from law enforcement, medical services, schools, the Red Cross and agriculture ran through an exercise in Lisbon.

Representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency also attended.

“We will evaluate their performance and we’ll see how they did, and we may offer items for recommendation, items for consideration,” said FEMA representative Stephen Tulley.

No one knew how the nuclear accident simulation would play out.

“It sort of defeats the purpose of practicing if you know what the playbook is, so there’s always something that gets added in to make us think through a new problem,” Clark said.

“Working with emergency management professionals, there’s really nothing you can throw at them that they just put their hands up in the air and say, ‘We don’t know what to do.’ That’s simply not the case,” Tulley said.

Clark says that they are constantly being trained to make sure they are prepared to respond.

“Fortunately, because we have a nuclear power plant, we practice all the time so that helps us be prepared for any other event that might occur in the county.”

The exercise was part of three days of training in case of a nuclear accident. On Monday, the Negley Fire Department became an evacuation and decontamination center. The East Liverpool Fire Department will simulate the transport of people with special needs on Wednesday.

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