First Live WEA Test on Tap for VA Next Week

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Virginia plans to conduct its first-ever live test of the Wireless Emergency Alert system next week.

The FCC granted a waiver so the Virginia Department of Emergency Management can conduct tests of the Wireless Emergency Alert system near two nuclear plants in the Commonwealth. The VDEM has a WEA test slated for 11:10 a.m. on December 12 at the Surry Nuclear Power Station and 11:10 a.m. on February 20 at the North Anna Nuclear Power Station.

Both tests would be within a 10-mile protective zone around the plants. Virginia wants to test WEA alongside regularly scheduled siren and Emergency Alert System trials. Virginia officials cite, “the critical need to expose the public to the types of messages they may receive during an actual crisis, as well as the lack of public understanding of siren notification among the rapidly expanding population in the area.”  

According to VDEM, WEA tests conducted concurrent with regularly scheduled EAS and siren tests will help it “ascertain the reception and understanding of WEA messaging” versus sirens in the event of a nuclear power plant emergency. WDEM tells the agency the message would state: “THIS IS A TEST OF THE VIRGINIA EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM. NO ACTION IS REQUIRED.”

Virginia would originate the test message from the Commonwealth’s Emergency Operations Center, following training and consultation with the FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System personnel. Virginia officials assured the FCC they would notify emergency authorities and the public before the test. The Commission passed changes to its alerting rules to allow WEA tests, but they don’t kick-in until May 2019. That’s why Virginia needed a waiver.  Comments? Email us.

December 7, 2018

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