Friday, December 8, 2023

FEMA Seeks Public Comment on Nuclear Emergency Alert Changes; Drill Scheduled Tuesday

The Surry Nuclear Power Station has created a hot spot in the James River, both literally and figuratively. (WYDaily/Courtesy Dominion Energy)
The Surry Nuclear Power Station. (WYDaily/Courtesy Dominion Energy)

RICHMOND — The Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will host a virtual public meeting to seek public comment on plans to change the Commonwealth’s alert and notification system for nuclear power plant emergencies.

FEMA proposed plan is to replace sirens with wireless emergency alerts via cellular phones as the primary alert and notification system. FEMA will conduct an exercise of the new system on June 28.

“This drill will test the government’s ability to alert and notify the public with the new system in the event of an emergency at either the Surry Power Station or North Anna Power Station,” said MaryAnn Tierney, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 3. “We will assess the plan changes that replace the sirens with wireless emergency alerts received through cellular phones within the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

FEMA will use the exercise results to make its decision on approving the change.

FEMA will hear from members of the public and present preliminary findings of the exercise during the public meeting slated for 5 p.m. on June 30. The meeting will be conducted in a virtual format via Zoom. Representatives from FEMA and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management will speak.

Access the public ZoomGov meeting at

Meeting ID: 161 383 7407
Passcode: 725804

At the public meeting, FEMA may request that questions or comments be submitted in writing for review and response. Written comments may also be submitted after the meeting by emailing or by mail to:

MaryAnn Tierney
Regional Administrator
615 Chestnut Street, 6th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Test details

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) will test the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) infrastructure at the following dates, times, and locations:

North Anna Power Station – Tuesday, June 28, Test: 9:30 am
Surry Power Station – Tuesday, June 28, Test: 1:30 pm

Instead of using the existing siren system, a test message will be sent that will only be received by specially configured phones: “This is a Wireless Emergency Alert Test. No actions are required.”

Only phones that have been opted in to receive system test messages will display the message. Most mobile phones will not. In an actual emergency, everyone with alerts enabled will automatically receive wireless emergency alerts on compatible phones even if they do not receive test messages.

Members of the public may opt-in to receive FEMA IPAWS/WEA test messages.  Instructions can be found here: IPAWS: New Procedure for Opting-In to WEA Tests on Apple Devices ( More information about FEMA IPAWS/WEA can be found at Integrated Public Alert & Warning System | Additional information on FEMA’s REP Program is available online at

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