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February 23--  The first of 76 sirens to be installed within a ten-mile radius of Plant Hatch is now standing in southern Toombs County.

When completed, the siren system will cover portions of Toombs, Appling, Tattnall and Jeff Davis counties to alert residents if there is a nuclear emergency at Plant Hatch.

The Southern Company Project Manager for the $5 million dollar system, Elizabeth Kuhn, says the sirens will ultimately replace the tone alert radios now issued to residents who live near the plant.

"Plant Hatch is unique in the fact that it has historically had tone alert radios and not mass warning sirens.  We are enhancing that now so we will have the sirens and there will be a lot of communication coming out in the future about the way people should respond if they hear the sirens.  Until that occurs, if everyone stays in touch with their tone alert radios, that is the way we will notifiy if there is an emergency," she notes.

Kuhn says it will take a while before the system comes completely on line, "The installation period will last for several months.  After that, we'll have an additional communication with the residents to let them know we are going to be testing."

{mosimage}Kuhn and others were on hand Tuesday to see the first siren installed.  It's located on Lawson Road, a dirt road off U.S. One South just below Herndon Farms.

David Burke with McCord Communications, an Anniston, Alabama company, is overseeing the installation.

"These are omni-directional electronic sirens which allow us to use electronic tones instead of the old mechanical type.  There's a certain amount of new technology in that they are wireless and allow us to use radio and we've got many redundant systems built in," Burke says.

In the outyears, Kuhn says Plant Hatch will test the sirens annually.  "Every year we will test the sirens to make sure people in the area are hearing them.  Typically we have with the Federal Emergency Management Agency a period of time where we will test the sirens and then call people in the area to make sure they heard them," she says.