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Nuclear Siren Tests Help Ensure Public Safety

Apr 2, 2019

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Residents living within ten miles of TVA’s Sequoyah and Watts Bar nuclear plants are accustomed to a minor disruption to their day at noon on the first Wednesday of each month. Each of the hundreds of sirens associated with a nuclear emergency notification system are tested at that time for nearly three minutes.

A siren test inadvertently conducted an hour early on March 6, created some confusion and calls, which actually shows residents do pay attention when the sirens sound outside of their normal tests. With the next siren system test scheduled for noon on April 3, it’s a good time to review the purpose of the sirens within a larger notification system designed to keep the public safe.

Installed and maintained by TVA, and operated by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with local emergency management agencies, the sirens are part of a Prompt Notification System. They are designed to gain the public’s attention and have them tune into local television or radio stations, as well as official social media accounts, to gain additional information.

Local television and radio stations are connected to the Emergency Alert System, which directly supplies them with official information and instructions from emergency management agencies, which will then be passed on to the public in real events.

Details about the sirens, the Prompt Notification System, the Emergency Alert System and many other public safety topics are included in calendars sent to each household within 10 miles of Sequoyah and Watts Bar each year. Copies of the calendar can be viewed and downloaded free at

To learn more about TVA and its 85-year mission of service to the Tennessee Valley, click here.


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