Estudio revela fragilidad de sirenas en plantas nucleares de EE.UU.

MIDDLETOWN, Pennsylvania (AP) — More than two dozen nuclear power plants across the country lack sirens that would warn of a nuclear emergency if electricity also was blacked out, according to a report by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Twenty-eight U.S. plants lack backup power for sirens that are supposed to alert residents in a 10-mile radius of trouble, the NRC said. Seventeen plants have full backup for the systems, while 18 others have at least some sirens that would remain operable during an outage.
The NRC released the information Wednesday as part of its response to a coalition of 17 activist groups and elected officials that petitioned the commission in February for information about the siren systems.
«Basically, we have an inoperable emergency system at a majority of the sites,» said Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Watchdog Project for the Washington, D.C.-based Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
Plants that lack any backup power for sirens include the Indian Point plant just north of New York City and the Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, Ohio. At Three Mile Island in Middletown, the site of a March 28, 1979, partial meltdown that remains the nation’s worst nuclear plant accident, only 19 of the 96 sirens would operate if power went out.
During mock terror attacks on plants, NRC officials assume electric power would be disrupted.
Working sirens would be crucial since a loss of electricity can challenge nuclear plants’ safety shutdown systems and heighten the risk of a core-melting accident, nuclear watchdog groups said.
The groups have asked the NRC to step in and require plant owners to provide backup power to the sirens. The NRC said siren upgrades are in the works at about half the plants that lack warning systems that are fully backed up.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is revising warning requirements following the massive August 2003 electrical blackout in the northeastern United States.
Todd Schneider, spokesman for Davis-Besse, said the sirens are only one part of an emergency plan. Warning messages are also spread by police car loudspeakers and radio stations.

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