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County ready for nuclear disaster

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If Dakota County ever needs to respond to an accident at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, it is ready.

That was the official word from evaluators at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. At its regular meeting March 17, Dakota County Emergency Preparedness Director David Gisch told the Dakota County Board of Commissioners that Dakota County received a perfect score for the county's participation in the last radiological preparedness exercise.

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More than 250 people were involved in coordinating and participating the exercise. FEMA evaluators made a special note recognizing the board of commissioners for taking a recess from the board meeting to simulate an emergency declaration as part of the exercise.

FEMA described Dakota County's emergency operations center staff as "extremely professional." The test is designed to assess the level of local and state preparedness in responding to a radiological emergency.

"Over the past four exercises, the last eight years, Dakota County has received perfect scores for each exercise," Gisch said.

FEMA assumed responsibility for nuclear planning and response in December 1979 following the Three Mile Island accident in March 1979.

Dakota County participates in radiological preparedness exercises every two years.

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