Warning!! Unusual Event!!

My Emergency Planning Calendar from the local nuclear power plant includes many helpful reminders, such as:

  • Martin Luther King Day is January 17;
  • March 20 is the first day of spring;
  • Father’s Day is right around the corner on June 19;
  • July 5 sees the emergency siren test at 11:50 AM;
  • And “there are four classifications used to describe a nuclear station emergency” at McGuire.

Illustration from McGuire Nuclear Power Plant Guide

Here’s a close-up of the four classifications:

Emergency Classifications

I love the language Duke Power uses here, especially for the first order of emergency: “An Unusual Event.” According to Duke,

    An Unusual Event is the least serious of the four classifications. It means there is a minor problem at the station. Because of strict federal regulations, a number of problems are reported as Unusual Events even though they pose no danger to the public.

First of all, do they have to capitalize the “U” and “E”? Any event becomes Unusual when capitalized!!

Secondly, I can’t help wondering whether these Unusual Events really “pose no danger to the public.” You’d think that after White Noise, in which an Airborne Toxic Event plays a major role, power companies would be wary of using the word “Event” to describe any, well, event.