On Wednesday 29th of August the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management department had an exercise with the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station to test their disaster processes under the watchful eyes of inspectors of the National Nuclear Rugulator. HAMNET participated with the exercise and were ready to provide emergency communication backup should any of the other existing services have failed (or be simulated to fail).
In matters of this scale there are multiple layers of redundancy to ensure that even should multiple simulateneous faults occur for whatever reason, the situation would never put the general public at risk.
Exercises of this nature always have a planned element of surprise. The exact nature of the simulated disaster is determined by NNR on the day of the simulated disaster, and as it plays out during the day more real life curved balls are brought into the mix to simulate aspects of a disaster situation which is unexpected and tests the multiple levels and layers of all involved are tested. Various organisations are involved in these exercises, consisting of SAPS, SANDF, ESCOM, NNR, Dept of Health, Traffic Police, Law Enforcement, Arrow Bus company, etc. etc.
In this particular exercise, the simulated explosion caused “damage” to an on-site nuclear waste storage facility with consequent “release” of radiation and eventual on-site power failure resulting in the disaster centre having to relocate to another (planned) site. This resulted in several backup power generators having to come on-line to provide power for control systems at the power station itself.
In preparation for the exercise a mobile VHF/UHF crossband repeater was installed at a high site known to provide suitable coverage to areas where other existing systems were struggling with coverage and where coverage would be required.
Three Hamnet members participated with this exercise – Dean (ZS1KP(, Hendrik (ZS1EEE) and Alister (ZS1OK). After setting up the Hamnet communications room at Goodwood for the specfiic requirements necessitated for this exercise, we were able to follow the development of the exercise from the spill-over JOC – which had CCTV coverage of the active Disaster Management Operations Centre – where the exercise was playing itself out.
As could be expected there were a couple of curved balls thrown at the emergency management committee but these were all dealt with very well and in due process and time.
In the end, due the the specifics of this exercise the Hamnet members earmarked to be mobile operators in support of the exercise were not deployed, but it was a good training ground to follow the process as it unfolded from the spill-over JOC.
After the exercise was concluded the mobile crossband repeater was retrieved, and in preparation for future events, the radio coverage in some areas and this info is to be included into future operating procedures.
Thanks again to those who participated and to Alister for arranging our response!