H.B. Robinson Plant
Progress Energy’s H.B. Robinson Nuclear Plant is located in Darlington County. Plant operations are conducted under strict rules and are monitored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). As part of the requirements, a full-scale emergency exercise is conducted every other year with plant personnel and state and county officials participating. This exercise is evaluated by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). In addition to required exercises, the H.B. Robinson has several internal exercises every month.
The effects of a nuclear accident at this location will affect several counties, including Chesterfield County. There are four different classifications of emergencies that could occur at a nuclear power plant. The classifications help state and county officials and plant personnel determine how they will respond to each kind of problem.
- Unusual Event – This is the least serious of the four emergency classifications. It means there is an event at the plant, but the event would not affect public.
- Alert – This event could reduce the level of safety at the plant. There is still no danger to the public. State and county officials and Progress Energy might decide to activate their emergency operation centers, just in case the situation gets worse.
- Site Area Emergency – This event could lower the safety of the plant, but probably not enough to pose a danger to the public. The sirens will be sounded to alert the public to listen to local radio and TV stations for information and instructions.
- General Emergency – This is the most serious event that could occur at the plant. State and county officials would take action to protect the public. Sirens would be sounded and local radio and TV stations will give instructions to the public living in the affected areas. They would be told to stay indoors or to evacuate from the area.
The tall sirens located around the McBee area and out around the lake area are part of the emergency alert warning system that the H.B. Robinson plant has in place. The area around the HBR Plant is sectioned into Emergency Planning Zones (EPZ). There are areas marked at being 5 mile EPZ, 10 mile EPZ and a 50 mile EPZ. A large part of the southern tip of Chesterfield County is covered in the 5 and 10 miles EPZ with the entire county being covered in the 50 mile EPZ.
Hearing the sirens does not mean you should evacuate! Sirens are tested each year, so if you hear them, tune into your local radio or TV station for instructions, to see if there is an actual emergency or if a test is being conducted. One local radio station in our area is WJMX.