Science & Technology
8:51 pm
Wed August 24, 2011

PEMA: Quake Info Flowed Well

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) said coordination after Tuesday's earthquake went according to plan. The scope of the quake was small enough that PEMA allowed various state agencies, including PennDOT and the Public Utility Commission, as well as nuclear power plants, to work independently to send out status updates.

Ruth Miller, a spokeswoman at PEMA, said the agency did not fully activate its joint information center. "Therefore, PennDOT handled their press release from their offices," said Miller. "The P-U-C handled their press release from their offices. They had public messages that they needed to get out, and they handled them."

PEMA says damages resulting from the quake were minor, such as a few reports of broken windows in residential buildings, and the occurrences were not concentrated in any particular region.

A spokesman for Exelon Nuclear, which operates Peach Bottom in York County, Limerick in Montgomery County and Three Mile Island (TMI) in Dauphin County, said the nuclear facilities declared the lowest emergency alert level on Tuesday and returned to normal operations a few hours later. TMI spokesman Ralph DeSantis said they began doing their own inspections within an hour of feeling the quake. "We have procedures for seismic events, we follow those procedures," said DeSantis. "TMI in fact is designed to withstand a seismic event much greater than the one that occurred yesterday." He adds that his team has been "very satisfied" with the coordination efforts with PEMA.

Bud Mertz, director of operations and resources for PEMA, says information flowed according to plan after the earthquake. PEMA quickly gathered information from all of the state's counties. "I don't think that anybody was caught off-guard," said Mertz. "You could call this a tornado, a hurricane, or an earthquake. The priorities still stay the same. We're all about saving lives, protecting lives, and minimizing suffering and damage."