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AEL&P tests the Salmon Creek Emergency Action Plan to practice for a potential dam failure
Published: 09/30/2010 19:16:02
A portion of Juneau's Hydro Electric power, and about 50% of the city's drinking water comes from the Salmon Creek Dam, situated two and half miles up the Salmon Creek Valley. Should the dam fail catastrophically, people could have as little as 6 minutes until the flood started to reach the area near the hospital. Every 5 years, AEL&P conducts a functional test of the Salmon Creek Emergency Action Plan which is designed to respond to the danger and alert those potentially in harm's way.

In today's drill, a scenario was played out that started when a simulated intruder broke into the power house at the base of the salmon creek road.
"We have a possible intruder at the Salmon Creek power house." Ray Collins reports to JPD. He is the Lead dispatcher for AEL&P, he took command of the situation from AEL&P's thane substation control room which oversees Juneau's power grid.

In the scenario, the intruder detonated a simulated bomb, destroying the power house. Using cue cards to simulate various alarms; the operator at Thane had to juggle managing the power grid and communicating with crews in the field and emergency responders as the system began to shut down.

"I see that I've got an alarm showing here that I've got an emergency stop." Collins observes.

The scenario escalates quickly as another bomb is simulated to explode at the dam causing it to fail at 11:28, sounding alarms back at the control room as reports come in from engineers via radio.

Scott Willis, Generation Engineer for AEL&P is handling the response from AEL&P's main office at Lemon Creek. He stays in contact with the control room using two-way radio. "Ray, we've declared condition red, will you please start the notifications under condition red, over." announces Willis over a speaker.

The dispatcher activates the Salmon Creek Siren and an automatic phone dialer to signal the evacuation. Next the National Weather Service is alerted, and they issue a Flash Flood warning and activate the Emergency Alert System. JPD dispatch is then called to start the roll out of emergency services.

In today's scenario, this process took less than 3 minutes for a full simulated evacuation to be under way. No evacuation actually took place, however the exercise was used to remind those in the flood zone where they should go if a real warning was issued.

By: Mikko Wilson -