Emergency Preparedness News and Announcements

Nuclear Power Hazardous Material Spill/Release



Nuclear power plants use heat generated from nuclear fission in a contained environment to convert water to steam, which powers generators to produce electricity. Nuclear power plants operate in most states and produce about 20 percent of the nation’s power. Nearly three million Americans live within ten miles of an operating nuclear power plant.

According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

  • 0 facilities in Kentucky
  • 5 facilities in Tennessee
  • 0 in West Virginia
  • 5 facilities in Virginia
  • 6 facilities in Missouri
  • 1 facility in Indiana

Check https://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/region-state/indiana.html when completing facility risk assessment to determine risk associated with nuclear energy facilities or testing/research/production sites near facility.

Although construction and operation of nuclear facilities is closely monitored and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), accidents are possible. An accident could result in dangerous levels of radiation that could affect the health and safety of the public living near the nuclear power plant.

The risk of a chemical accident is slight. However, knowing how to handle these products and how to react during an emergency can reduce the risk of injury.

Immediate Action

  1. Minimize Exposure to Radiation by the following:
    • Distance—the greater the distance between humans and the source of the radiation, the better. This could be evacuation or remaining indoors to minimize exposure.
    • Shielding—the more heavy, dense material between humans and the source of the radiation, the better.
    • Time—most radioactivity loses its strength fairly quickly.
  2. Staff members and residents exposed to nuclear radiation:
    • Change clothes and shoes
    • Put exposed clothing in plastic bag
    • Seal the bag and place it out of the way
    • Take a thorough shower
  3. Communicate “CODE ORANGE.”
  4. Sirens will be sounding in the community. Radio announcements will give instructions concerning evacuation.

Common Staff Assignments

  1. Remain calm to not upset the residents.
  2. Turn off the air conditioner, ventilation fans, furnace, and other air intakes.
  3. Close and lock doors and windows.

Specific Staff Assignments

  1. Administrator/Incident Commander
    • Listen to battery-operated radio for information regarding the incident and for specific instructions.
    • Contact County Emergency Management Office.
    • Activate the Incident Command System (ICS) to manage the incident. The most qualified staff member (in regard to the Incident Command System) on duty at the time will assume the Incident Commander position.
    • Instruct staff members, residents, and visitors to remain in the facility until further notice from the local authorities.
    • Activate Recall Roster, if warranted.
    • Activate Evacuation Emergency Procedures, if evacuation is ordered by local and state officials.
    • Activate Shelter-in-Place Procedures, if facility is told to remain indoors.
    • Account for all staff members and residents.
    • Continue to monitor radio announcements for further instruction. The situation should only be deemed “under control” and safe by local and state authorities. At that point, the Incident Commander can declare the situation “safe” for re-entry and/or normal operations.
  2. Management Staff of All Departments
    • Report to the Incident Command Post.
    • Instruct staff members, residents, and visitors to remain in the facility until further notice from the local authorities.
    • Instruct staff members to lock doors and windows.
    • Remain calm to not upset the residents.
    • Ensure food items are kept in covered containers or in the refrigerator. Uncovered food items should be washed before being put into containers.
    • Be prepared to activate Evacuation or Shelter-in-Place Procedures.
    • Account for all staff members and residents.

Preparing Ahead/Training

  1. Obtain public emergency information materials from the power company that operates nuclear power plant or facilities in the local/region. Facilities located within 10 miles of the power plant, receive materials annually from the power company, or from state and/or local government.
  2. Familiarize staff members with the following terms to help identify a nuclear power plant emergency:
    • Notification of Unusual Event: A small problem has occurred at the plant. No radiation leak is expected. No action at the facility will be necessary.
    • Alert: A small problem has occurred, and small amounts of radiation could leak inside the plant. This will not affect the facility and no action is required.
    • Site Area Emergency: Area sirens may be sounded. Listen to your radio or television for safety information.
    • General Emergency: Radiation could leak outside the plant and off the plant site. The sirens will sound. Tune to local radio or television station for reports. Be prepared to follow instructions promptly.

See Also

Evacuation, Hazardous Material/Spill/Release, Shelter-In-Place