Refueling outage begins at Limerick Generating Station’s Unit 2

This file photo shows the exterior of the reactors at the Limerick Generating Station. 

LIMERICK — The on-again, off-again nature of emergency siren tests at the Exelon nuclear plant is off again.

A second test of the emergency sirens scheduled for Tuesday was canceled.

The Tuesday test was scheduled one day after a scheduled test Monday resulted in siren failures in Berks County.

The Tuesday test was announced after 5 p.m. Monday. However, Exelon issued no statement or announcement after the sirens failed to sound Tuesday at 2 p.m. as scheduled.

"During our scheduled test of Limerick Generating Station’s EAS siren system on Monday, 30 sirens in Berks County responded with unexpected results. Prior to our retest on Tuesday, the cause of siren issue was identified," according to David Marcheskie, senior site communications manager at the plant, who replied to queries from Digital First Media Tuesday afternoon.

"Exelon is working with local officials and the siren manufacturer to perform maintenance. The full siren test has been postponed until work is completed," he said.

Marcheskie told Digital First that "no date has been scheduled for a retest. It will be once the work is completed."

A June 2005 article in The Mercury reported that out of 63 nuclear power stations across the country, only 17 had sirens that could be heard during a power failure.

In July 2006, it was revealed that a summer storm that knocked out electric power to parts of Chester County also knocked out power to 48 of the Limerick power plant's sirens.

In 2009, Exelon announced plans to replace all 165 sirens in the 10-mile evacuation zone around the plant with a new system equipped with a battery backup.

The $3.8 million siren replacement project — part of a $13 million Exelon initiative at all its nuclear plants across the country — was completed in 2012.

At the time, Exelon announced the new system to be "more reliable, efficient sirens that have improved sound coverage and battery back-up. This ensures the sirens will be able to operate and provide notification if electrical service is interrupted," the company announced in 2012.

Full sound siren tests occur on the first Monday in June and December as part of Exelon's comprehensive Emergency Preparedness program. 

This is the first time in recent memory that the sirens have failed the bi-annual test.

Marcheskie said he could not provide the exact cause of the failure. 

"I’m told there was an issue the siren manufacturer is working through to resolve," he replied to a query from Digital First Media.

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