Community Reaction To Plant Incident


A false alarm at the watts bar nuclear plant today created confusion.
Around 5:30 this morning, TVA contacted the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency about an "unusual event" at the reactor near the Rhea-Meigs county line.
The plant, which had been shut down for refueling and maintenance is about 60 miles southwest of Knoxville.
TVA thought there might be a water leak, but after an examination, the all clear was given about 7:30.
The situation prompted officials in Meigs County to dismiss school for all students who could drive or had parents that could pick them up.
Buses which had been in a holding pattern since before eight then took the rest home at nine.
Many parents are questioning Meigs County's decision to send students home early.
WVLT's Stephen McLamb has more on the factors that went into making that call.
School officials say they were already dealing with low attendance because of the upcoming holiday and funeral plans for a longtime teacher.
But with parents hearing about the event just before school, school officials say they just decided it best to go ahead and cancel classes.
On the last full day before the Thanksgiving holidays, schools in Meigs County are vacant.
School officials say the Watts Bar "unusual alert" caused a big concern before kids could begin school.
Robert Greene, the Meigs County Schools Superintendent says, "the panic in the community came through talking to parents. It was what they heard on scanners and people calling them on cell phones."
Greene says as buses arrived the news had spread too far into the public.
"My principals were telling me a lot of parents were calling in, coming and getting their children."
With the buses already there, Greene says he then decided to cancel school.
The decision has drawn mixed reaction.
Luther Pellam Jr. says, "for me, my suggestion, I think they should stay in school a little bit longer."
Susan Card continues, "when I found out that there was a possible problem at Watts Bar then I thought that was correct in them taking the safety precautions."
Luis Isaza says, "I was supposed to be at work but luckily I wasn't at work. If we wouldn't have been home the kids would have come home and nobody would have been there because I didn't get a phone call or nothing."
Greene says they were already dealing with a lower attendance due to the upcoming holiday which begins Wednesday and the funeral of Glydas Cunningham who taught in the schools for 48 years.
Greene continues, "since after the 48 years, she's volunteered everyday for 15 years. 86 years old and she came to school everyday last year until last Thursday."
Greene says that wasn't a reason to release schools but for some it was.
Evelena Fugate says, "I think they should have honored Mrs. Gladys."
Greene says if the event had taken place while the kids were already in school then they would probably would have spent the day in class.
At this point he doesn't think the kids will have to make the day up since they have days available for such situations.


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