Skip to main content

Guest Post: Mom Responds To Nuclear Emergency

The following guest post comes from Elizabeth McAndrew-Benavides, senior manager of workforce policy and programs at NEI:
Anne Shatara is a single, working mother who in addition to her regular job at a nuclear energy facility has an intriguing third job. She is part of the facility’s emergency response organization (ERO).

"I hold the position of dose assessor," said Anne. "In the event of an emergency, this position is responsible for gathering data and determining if radiation is leaking from the facility."

Elizabeth McAndrew-Benavides
Many wonder who is eligible to serve on an emergency response team.  The answer is almost any nuclear power plant employee.  Once eligible, employees receive specialized qualification training; they participate in numerous drills and annual re-qualify for their assigned position.

Anne's position requires her to report to her assigned emergency response facility within 60 minutes of a declared emergency. She said she held an emergency response position before having a child and has continued to hold it since her child was born five years ago.

"Personally, I did not ask to be removed from the ERO after his birth," said Anne. "During my maternity leave, other ERO members qualified for the same position were responsible for covering for me while I recovered."

As a single mother, being on call to respond to an emergency does create logistical challenges. "When my son was younger and I was on-call, I always made sure there was an emergency bag in the car with us," Anne said. "That way, in the event I had to respond during non-work hours, I would have snacks, toys, diapers, and extra clothes for him."

This preplanning paid off for Anne. Two years ago she had to take her son with her when her facility scheduled an off-duty ERO drill. Anne said, "I was making dinner when my pager went off. I had to drop what I was doing and report to my ERO location as soon as possible. "

Many have asked Anne if she reconsidered her position on the ERO after the tragedy in Fukushima. Her response was unequivocal. "I never question participating on the ERO. I feel it is part of my responsibility as a nuclear energy facility employee."

Many worry that ERO members will respond differently in a real situation than they do during a drill. Anne rejects this claim and explained, "We frequently conduct drills in order to prepare for an event if one was to take place. As any high performing team practices before a game, we practice like it’s a real event so we know what to expect and gain proficiency on our emergency response procedures and protocols."

Ann said she's seen this preparedness put into practice the one time she had to respond to an Alert at her facility. An alert is the second lowest level of emergency.

"It happened during work and my son was at childcare," said Anne. "I responded to my facility as required but my first phone call was to the preschool followed by a friend to ensure my son would be picked up and cared for until I was released."

The Alert ended after seven hours, and Anne was able to pick her son up from her friend. "Knowing my child was cared for and safe allowed me to focus on my task at hand as an ERO member."
Anne is just one example of many Mothers in Nuclear who also serve on an emergency response team. They are all smart, organized women who are dedicated to keeping us safe.

Comments

jimwg said…
Good piece!

I'd LOVE to see these nuclear mothers "spread and share their skills" before a subcommittee by asking why the onus is so hard in forcing nuclear plants to have evacuation plans and alarm sirens countywide when oil, gas, chemical and hydro facilitates which have a record of far far more "accidents" that have historically killed far far more while putting away whole counties in the process get away with having nil or zit or zero or none. The political and regulatory discrimination and hypocrisy screams in its silence.

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Popular posts from this blog

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Hurricane Harvey Couldn't Stop the South Texas Project

As Hurricane Harvey battered southeast Texas over the past week, the devastation and loss of life in its wake have kept our attention and been a cause of grief.

Through the tragedy, many stories of heroics and sacrifice have emerged. Among those who have sacrificed are nearly 250 workers who have been hunkered down at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear plant in Matagorda County, Texas.

STP’s priorities were always the safety of their employees and the communities they serve. We are proud that STP continued to operate at full power throughout the storm. It is a true testament to the reliability and resiliency of not only the operators but of our industry.

The world is starting to notice what a feat it is to have maintained operations through the catastrophic event. Forbes’ Rod Adams did an excellent job describing the contribution of these men and women:

“STP storm crew members deserve to be proud of the work that they are doing. Their families should take comfort in the fact that…

New Home for Our Blog: Join Us on NEI.org

On February 27, NEI launched the new NEI.org. We overhauled the public site, framing all of our content around the National Nuclear Energy Strategy.

So, what's changed?

Our top priority was to put you, the user, first. Now you can quickly get the information you need. You'll enjoy visiting the site with its intuitive navigation, social media integration and compelling and shareable visuals. We've added a feature called Nuclear Now, which showcases the latest industry news and resources like fact sheets and reports. It's one of the first sections you'll see on our home page and it can be accessed anywhere throughout the site by clicking on the atom symbol in the top right corner of the page.
Most importantly for you, our loyal NEI Nuclear Notes readers, is that we've migrated the blog to the new site. Moving forward, all blog posts will be published in the News section, along with our press releases, Nuclear Energy Overview stories and more. Just look for the &qu…