Growing population pushes closer to Sequoyah Nuclear Plant - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Growing population pushes closer to Sequoyah Nuclear Plant

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SODDY DAISY, TN (WRCB) -

Neighborhoods are growing in northern Hamilton County. People are moving away from traffic, but closer to one of Tennessee's nuclear power plants. 

Roughly 100,000 people live within a ten-mile radius of the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, called the Emergency Planning Zone because people who live there could be evacuated in a plant emergency.

Tim Woodward is one of 18,000 people who have moved to the zone since 2000. 

He says having an evacuation plan for his family is just a part of life. 

"Most of the winds in this area do tend to blow west to east if you watch the news. Our basically plan would be to take Highway 111 and either go to Cookeville or Crossville," he said.

The Tennessee Valley Authority trains for emergencies using a series of drills each year. 

A simulator allows employees to practice different scenarios including flooding, which Emergency Planning Manager Paul Gain said is a top-tier priority. 

"We have generators that are available to generate above flood levels so that we can provide power for ourselves. We also have means to get water in," Gain added. 

Gain said it's important residents living in the ten-mile radius to know what to do if emergency sirens ever go off. 

"In the United States, there's never been a release from a nuclear power plant and so knowing that I think helps people understand that there are safety measures in place," Robert Goff with the southeast region of the Tennessee Department of Health said. 

Those measures including knowing when to take potassium iodide tablets in the event radiation is released. 

State health leaders like Dr. Allyson Cornell help make that determination. 

"The thyroid gland is particularly susceptible to radiation. So if there were an event, the goal with potassium iodide is to saturate the thyroid gland with potassium iodide so the gland can't uptake the radioactive iodide," Cornell said. 

Calendars are sent out to residents in the emergency planning zone each year detailing alert levels and how to respond. 

It's a plan TVA continually tests with other agencies in the area. 

"You don't want to be exchanging business cards at the time of an event. Knowing that we work together, plan together, train together means that the response is much more seamless," Goff added. 

In 30 years of operation, Sequoyah's sirens have never been used. 

To find out if you live in the emergency planning zone and what you need to know if you do, see the TVA PDF file below:

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