I think it is actually pretty funny that the topic of warning came up this week, well a funny coincidence at the least. I live in the state of Georgia, and this past week the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency (Georgia EM&HS) pushed out a statewide radiological hazard alert, warning everyone to locate their nearest fallout shelter immediately. Interestingly enough, people immediately took to social media with photos and screenshots of the warning, some frantically, asking if it was real and if there was actually a cause for concern. Personally, I was slightly concerned because there is a nuclear power plant not too far from my house. Later in the day, Georgia EM&HS reached out on Twitter, indicating that it was only a test, and that there was no radiological emergency. As you can imagine, a lot of people were angry that the word “test” never actually appeared in any of the warnings.
Not only people, but local state government agencies as well. Many agencies, especially those that run some of our critical infrastructure, have procedures and protocols in place to protect our CIKR in the event of a radiological emergency. In fact, DHS offers a five-day course called Radiological Emergency Response Operations (RERO PER-904), based along the guidelines set out by FEMA’s Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program, the EPA Manual, the Protective Action Guides and Protective Actions for Nuclear Incidents, and other federal regulations.
So what could the consequences had been had our CIKR started radiological emergency procedures? Could there have been emergency shutdown of some of our resources in order to save them from the threat? This would obviously pose more danger to everyone in the state. It seems they could have very easily endangered quite a few people with this mistake. I guess that is another part of warnings and test warnings, the importance of clarification and quality control. Always have someone QC!