Southern Exposure 15 from Ken Yale

This was an incredible opportunity for me personally and for the ROSS program in its early days. This was the first time the ROSS concept was being tried as part of a nuclear power plant ingestion pathway exercise. The Southern Exposure Exercise included a standard ingestion pathway exercise with full Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center (FRMAC) operations. I spent the first day assisting the State of South Carolina at their Field Operations Center and the remainder of my time at the FRMAC location. My primary mission was to help the State optimize their interactions with their federal partners.

During the morning of Day 1, I was able to assist the State of South Carolina as they established their Field Operations Center. This gave me an opportunity to learn their operations and share with them my experience with nuclear power plant response. They were very well organized and clearly knew how to respond to a nuclear power plant incident. I initially thought there would not be much I could add. As the exercise progressed, I realized they were focused on certain issues and had missed some critical communications. Because I was less involved in coordinating the field activities I was able to monitor communications and bring vital issues to the center director’s attention. Knowing what was important and what was not helped me to filter the communications effectively and allowed the center director to focus on the plume monitoring activities.

During the afternoon of the first day I was introduced to the South Carolina Forestry Division’s Incident Management Team (IMT). As the ROSS, my role was to work with the IMT and help them integrate with the FRMAC. This IMT had never participated in a nuclear power plant incident response exercise. I spent most of the afternoon helping them to understand what was happening, what role the FRMAC played, and what resources would be available to them.

For the remainder of the exercise I worked with the IMT. I alternated between the Planning and Operations Sections helping them to understand what activities were taking place and what the next steps should be. This was a great group to work with and they really knew incident management. I was able to help them understand the unique issues of a radiological incident and understand how to make best use of the federal assets available to them.

Southern Exposure 15 made clear that a single ROSS was not enough for a large-scale event and integrating a ROSS with an IMT can be extremely effective. There were many other lessons learned from this exercise, but it definitively demonstrated that one or more ROSS could be very effective, even for well-practiced nuclear power plant incident responses.