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About Emergency Response

In response to an event at an NRC-licensed facility or an event involving NRC-licenced material that could threaten public health and safety or the environment, NRC activates its incident response program at its Headquarters Operations Center and one of its four Regional Incident Response Centers ( Region I in King of Prussia, PA; Region II in Atlanta, GA; Region III in Lisle, IL; and Region IV in Arlington, TX). NRC's highest priority is to provide expert consultation, support, and assistance to State and local public safety officials responding to the event. Once the NRC incident response program is activated, teams of specialists are assembled at the Headquarters Operations Center and Regional Incident Response Center to obtain and evaluate event information and to assess the potential impact of the event on public health and safety and the environment.

Scientists and engineers analyze the event and evaluate possible recovery strategies. Meanwhile, other experts evaluate the effectiveness of protective actions that have been recommended by the licensee and implemented by State and local officials to minimize the impact on public health and safety and the environment. Communications with the news media, State, other Federal agencies, the Congress, and the White House are coordinated through the Headquarters Operations Center.

As described in the Nuclear/Radiological Incident Annex to the National Response Framework, NRC is the Coordinating Agency for radiological events occurring at NRC-licensed facilities and for radioactive materials either licensed by NRC or under NRC's Agreement States Program. As Coordinating Agency, NRC has technical leadership for the Federal government's response to the event. If the severity of an event rises to the level of General Emergency, or is terrorist-related, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will take on the role of coordinating the overall Federal response to the event, while NRC would retain a technical leadership role, other Federal agencies who may respond to an event at an NRC-licensed facility, or involving NRC-licensed material, include Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Energy, the Environment Protection Agency , the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of State.

If event conditions warrant, NRC will immediately dispatch a Site Team, consisting of technical experts and a Site Team Director, from the Regional Office to the plant site. An Executive Team will be assembled in the Headquarters Operations Center to lead the response while the Site Team travels to the plant location which may take several hours. The Executive Team is typically headed by the Chairman of the NRC or a Commissioner acting as Chairman. Once the Site Team is in place, authority to manage event-related activities is turned over to that team. The Site Team serves as the NRC's eyes and ears on site allowing a firsthand assessment of the situation and face-to-face communications with all participants. The Headquarters Operations Center continues to provide round-the-clock logistical and technical support throughout the response. Examples would be when NRC is in response to a hurricane that threatens one or more facilities, or in response to a specific terrorist threat. For a more complete description of our Incident Response Program, see NRC Incident Response Plan.

See the following for more information:

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, September 26, 2014