United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Nuclear Facility Response

Immediately upon becoming aware that an incident has occurred that may result in a radiation dose that exceeds Federal government protective action guides, the responsible nuclear power plant personnel evaluate plant conditions and then recommend actions to the State and local government agencies for them to take in order to protect the population from exposure to radiation. Nuclear power plant representatives are required to give the recommendations to the State or local government within 15 minutes and to the NRC Operations Center as soon as possible, within 1 hour of determining that an accidental radiation release could affect the public health and safety.

The emergency plans for all NRC licensed facilities are required to provide reasonable assurance that adequate measures can and will be taken in the event of an emergency. For nuclear power plants, both onsite and offsite emergency response plans are required. This is because a severe accident at a nuclear power plant could reasonably be expected to impact individuals located some distance away from the power plant.

For large fuel cycle and materials facilities, only an onsite radiological emergency response plan is required. No offsite radiological emergency plan is required since accidents at these facilities are not expected to impact individuals located much beyond the site boundary. (This arrangement is similar to that of other industrial facilities in which accidents are dealt with by offsite firefighters and police routinely with an all hazards response plan.)

For smaller licensees, no formal response plans are required since accidents would have no significant impact outside the facility. These licensees are required to have appropriate internal procedures in place to protect workers and control radioactive materials.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, November 16, 2018