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State officials host emergency training at Monticello nuclear power plant

The training is part of a yearly requirement from the federal government that dates back to 1981.

SAINT PAUL, Minn — In emergency management, you hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

And you practice in case the worst actually happens.

"Today we are having our radiological preparedness drill,” Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Kristi Rollwagen says.

The annual drill is part of a federal requirement that says all U.S. states with a nuclear power plant must conduct emergency response training at least once a year.

State officials say Minnesota has been conducting these emergency drills since 1981.

“Every year we alternate between the Prairie Island site and the site in Monticello,” Rollwagen says.

This year emergency officials are practicing for a nuclear emergency at the nuclear power plant in Monticello.

The site recently experienced two small leaks in recent months.

Though officials say the public was never in danger during either of those leaks, this drill here is meant to prepare responders in case a leak does become a public health concern.

More than a hundred people from nearly two dozen government agencies and non-profit groups participated in the drill.

Xcel Energy was also involved in the training exercise since the Monticello plant is owned and operated by Xcel.

Rollwagen says during the training exercise officials are focused on several key functions, including public evacuations, radiation testing, road closures, and the release of public information.

“It’s being aware of what's going on with the social media channels and what the public is saying or perceiving and what actually might be happening in the field and how we can release accurate information to the public,” Rollwagen says.

The drill Tuesday is a practice run before a full-scale exercise is performed later this month.

That exercise will be monitored and evaluated by FEMA.

A final grade will be given after the exercise, along with notes that explain what areas state officials performed well in and which areas need improvement.


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