Last night I got a chance to go to the meeting of the Midwest Chapter of the Health Physics Society. It was pretty cool. We heard a presentation about Exelon's plans to build a new nuclear power plant in Texas, and what's involved in the prep and planning, as well as the timeline for construction. It's been 25 years since a nuclear power plant has been built in the US, so the technology has changed greatly, as well as there being very few people with experience left in this country. They're hoping to bring a plant on line in about 2015, and this is considered a very aggressive timeline! Wow. After the presentation (and a fantastic dinner) we were given the opportunity to visit their Emergency Operations Facility. This is where everything is coordinated if there is any kind of emergency at any of the nuclear power plants in the midwest. The setup is pretty impressive, with everything right at hand including maps of the area, plant diagrams, flow charts, feeds from instrumentation, and at least three layers of communication redundancy. They told us that when they have drills, they actually assign staff to act as the "media" and that those staff member can be as aggressive as the real thing (including following people into the bathrooms).