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Research and Test Reactor Emergency Preparedness

Research and test reactor (RTR) emergency plans address the necessary provisions for coping with radiological emergencies at each facility. Per NRC regulations, 10 CFR 50.54(q), RTRs shall follow and maintain in effect emergency plans that meet the requirements of Appendix E to 10 CFR Part 50. Guidance for the acceptability of these emergency plans is described in Regulatory Guide 2.6, "Emergency Planning for Research and Test Reactors."

There are 10 planning standards for research and test reactors, similar to the 16 planning standards in Appendix E to 10 CFR Part 50 for commercial nuclear power reactors. Regulatory Guide 2.6 endorses ANSI-15.16-1982, "Emergency Planning for Research Reactors." ANSI-15.16-1982 and NUREG-0849, NRC's Standard Review Plan for the Review and Evaluation of Emergency Plans for Research and Test Reactors, identify the elements of an emergency plan that describes the approach to coping with emergencies and minimizing the consequences of accidents at research and test reactor facilities. The 10 planning standards are as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Organization and Responsibilities
  4. Emergency Classification System
  5. Emergency Action Levels
  6. Emergency Planning Zones
  7. Emergency Response
  8. Emergency Facilities and Equipment
  9. Recovery
  10. Maintaining Emergency Preparedness

Due to the low power level, small amount of radioactivity in the core and required safety features, the risk from RTR facilities is small. However, NUREG-0849 specifies emergency planning zones (EPZs) designed to prevent radiological doses to the general public exceeding the protective action guides (PAGs) of 1 rem whole body or 5 rem thyroid. It also specifies acceptable EPZs that are a function of the steady-state thermal power of the reactor. RTRs are required to identify EPZs to meet these criteria. These EPZs range in size from the operations boundary for a reactor for power levels of less than or equal to 2 megawatts to 800 meters for a reactor up to 50 megawatts. Operators of RTRs are required to train personnel and perform emergency preparedness exercises in order to ensure the feasibility of the emergency preparedness plan and the NRC routinely inspects the emergency preparedness plans. The four emergency classification levels identified in Appendix E to 10 CFR Part 50 (Unusual Event, Alert, Site Area Emergency, and General Emergency) are applicable to RTRs. However, since an RTR's potential radiological release is highly unlikely and very small, RTRs do not entertain the general emergency classification of radiological accidents.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, June 05, 2013