In a periodic ritual familiar to residents who live near a nuclear power plant, Progress Energy will sound the emergency warning sirens for the Shearon Harris plant at full blast tomorrow morning.
The Raleigh-based power company will conduct a full-volume test for about 5 seconds between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. The Shearon Harris nuclear plant has 83 warning sirens within 10 miles of the power plant.
The nuclear siren, which resembles an air-raid warning, is not likely to be mistaken for the afternoon bell at the local schoolhouse.
Progress is required to have a notification system in place in the event of an accident that results in a radioactive release. In past years, the sirens have failed the test, but since then the utility has replaced them at a cost of $2.5 million.
Progress conducts full-volume tests four times a year for 5 seconds, and a 3-minute test once a year.
The towers register at about 60 decibels from about 2 miles away, equivalent to the volume of a normal conversation. From 100 feet, the sound is at 127 decibels, which is comparable to a human scream or a marching band at short range.
If you want to hear what the sirens sound like, click here and scroll down to the audio sample link.
About 123,000 people live within 10 miles of the Shearon Harris plant, a zone that includes 18 public schools. When the nuclar plant began generating electricity in 1986, about 15,000 people lived within 10 miles of the plant.