Jerusalem Township adjusts to new nuclear regulations

JERUSALEM TOWNSHIP, OH (Toledo News Now) - The U.S. government has made changes to how communities near nuclear power plants prepare for a problem, and inside the Jerusalem Township Fire Department there is a locker stocked full of equipment, ready for use in the case of a nuclear emergency.

Everything from response plans to radiation meters are on hand.

The associated press just released a report on the changes, which took effect back in December, and while some emergency plans are beefed up, others are eased.

All of these precautions are in place because parts of the township fall within a ten mile emergency planning zone that surrounds the Davis-Besse nuclear power station.

"There is no margin of error when it comes to nuclear power. Public safety has to be paramount," said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. "I think with the article there will be further comment from the NRC and others, and that's a good thing."

The Jerusalem Township Fire Department trains to decontaminate plant workers and evacuate residents. Training procedures are changing for places like Jerusalem Township after the nuclear regulatory commission and FEMA revamped emergency plans.

The new rules require fewer exercises for major accidents.  They call for fewer people to be evacuated immediately, and they eliminate a requirement that responders always practice for a release of radiation.

"We're watering down training, we're watering down response and I don't think that has a good outcome." said Fire Chief Harold Stanton.

The changes do call for more police involvement in training for attacks on nuclear facilities.

The head of the Lucas County EMA calls the changes an improvement, and more realistic.

He says it provides more flexibility for training.

Chief Stanton says no matter the changes, training is critical to keep people safe:

"Without sufficient training and without proper training, we're going to run into a problem where any event will become a huge event."