RICHMOND, VA – Effective today, Feb. 1, 2023, those living within an approximate 10-mile radius of Dominion Energy’s North Anna Power Station (NAPS) and Surry Power Station (SPS), will no longer hear siren alerts in the event of an emergency. Dominion Energy has now transitioned to utilizing the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), which has two methods for alerting the public to an emergency at the nuclear power stations.
The first method is Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) that will be sent to cell phones. The second method, Emergency Alert System (EAS) notifies television and radio broadcasters who, in turn, share messaging through television and radio channels. Both methods, identical in nature to Amber and Severe Weather alerts, have several advantages over the sirens. These alerts have the ability to offer real-time information in the event of an emergency instead of just a siren sound. In addition to WEA and EAS, residential and business phones will be called, and plans remain in place to notify recreational areas such as parks and waterways.
Dominion Energy, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), made the change to use current technology to better protect the health and safety of the public. This change will allow information to be provided on a real-time basis on what actions to take in the event of an emergency. The transition planning process has taken several years and was approved late last year by both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“As technology changes, it is important that we take advantage of new opportunities especially when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of the public,” said State Coordinator Shawn Talmadge, VDEM. “Those working behind the scenes to make this transition happen have gone through several rounds of planning, surveys, and research to ensure that this system is optimal for notifying the public of an emergency at these nuclear power stations. Unlike the sirens which simply make a noise, the alerts will direct you on what protective actions to take so you understand what to do to ensure you and your family are safe.”
“Protecting the health and safety of the public is central to everything we do at Dominion Energy,” said Dan Stoddard, Senior Vice President, Chief Nuclear Officer and President – Contracted Assets. “We are excited about the transition to this new and improved technology for alerting the public in the extremely unlikely situation of an event at one of our nuclear stations. This transition is the culmination of years of detailed planning and assessment, in close collaboration with Local, State, and Federal officials. I am proud of our team for their work and deeply appreciative of the dedicated public servants who helped make this possible.”
Quarterly siren tests will be replaced by frequent operational tests of the system by VDEM. During these internal operational tests, the public will not receive alerts on their phones. For additional information, you can visit https://www.dominionenergy.com/sirenschangetowireless or click on the links below to learn more about IPAWS.
Virginia Department of Emergency Management