A defense board reported the Savannah River Site’s management and operating contractor failed to meet facilities and equipment objectives, as well as exercise control and conduct objectives during an emergency mock drill in May.


Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, or SRNS, the Energy Department and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board all played a role in conducting the evaluation.


In the defense board’s weekly report for the week of July 4, officials wrote that SRNS had equipment issues that restricted its ability to conduct emergency tasks.


“While SRNS stated the equipment issues were relatively minor individually, the cumulative impact was that the emergency equipment needed to effectively respond to emergencies is seriously degraded,” officials wrote in the report.


The defense board added that the most serious exercise control issue was that controllers allowed firefighters to violate a temporary radiological buffer area at the incident scene.


While the contractor failed to meet objectives in two areas, the other four objectives were graded as “partially met.” Those objectives are: radiological/chemical monitoring, emergency response facility staffing and activation, notifications and off-site interactions.


Other issues outlined in the report include SRNS implementing a Remain Indoors protective action for a 2-mile radius around the incident scene, although the Emergency Planning Hazards Assessment estimates that the protective action criteria of 1 unit of radiation, or rem, could be exceeded up to 3.8 miles.


“Some SRS personnel believe the protective actions taken and incident command post location were adequate based on known field conditions,” officials wrote.


The mock drill was conducted on May 14, and involved a truck driver backing into a building in F Area of the Site, causing a radiological release and injuries to a non-SRS worker.


SRNS Business, Technical and Employee Communications Director Barbara Smoak said feedback from other agencies, such as the safety board, is an important tool to evaluate the site’s Emergency Management program.


“To identify additional areas for improvement and to ensure that SRS personnel are prepared to respond effectively and safely to emergencies, SRNS is currently assessing all aspects of the Emergency Management program. SRNS is committed to maintaining the safety and security of SRS and the surrounding areas,” Smoak added.


Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.