Burke County, GA – During last weekend’s trip to Augusta, I noticed what looked like tornado warning sirens mounted on telephone poles along SR23 in Burke County as I was driving toward Augusta. I thought at the time that they were unusual places to put tornado warning sirens because they were often seemed to be in areas where there weren’t a lot of residences. I didn’t give it much more thought until I was I was driving back to Savannah on Sunday morning and noticed that all of the sirens appeared to be in the area of Plant Vogtle, Georgia Power’s nuclear plant in Waynesboro; you could see the cooling towers to the east from some of the locations. Each siren also had what appeared to be a UHF Yagi antenna on it that was pointed back toward Plant Vogtle. At that point, I was convinced that they weren’t Tornado Warning Sirens, but instead some sort of warning system for Plant Vogtle.
I’ve never lived near a nuclear power plant, so I was quite curious about those sirens. When I got home I started doing some web research and discovered that they are indeed part of a warning system for Plant Vogtle. There is a 10 mile radius Emergency Planning Zone surrounding the plant. In the event of a nuclear emergency at the plant, these sirens would be activated and sound an alert which directs residents to tune in to a local radio or TV station for more information. The partner radio and TV stations will broadcast directions on whether to shelter or evacuate. My guess is that those Yagi antennas are for receiving the activation signal for the plant and probably use a frequency from one of a number of licenses Georgia Power has for Plant Vogtle.
Among those licenses I mentioned are two, WQYR712 and WQBM373 (they have effective dates of 6/4/19 and 5/4/19 respectively), that seem to be for UHF trunked repeater systems at Plant Vogtle. I don’t see any listings in RadioReference for a system like that in Burke County, so the next time I’m travelling that way, I’ll try to find out what kind of systems they are.