About Emergency Preparedness

A key component of the NRC's public health and safety mission is ensuring that U.S. nuclear power plants have adequate protective actions in place to protect public health and safety if an accident were to occur. These protective actions are designed to avoid or reduce radiation dose to the public and are sometimes referred to as protective measures.

Nuclear power plant licenses include requirements to develop and maintain emergency plans that meet the NRC's comprehensive requirements. Emergency Preparedness (EP) plans ensure U.S. nuclear power plants can implement adequate measures to protect the public in the event of a radiological emergency. The NRC then inspects those plans and evaluates how the plants carry them out during exercises that simulate actual emergencies.

The NRC maintains oversight of the capability of nuclear power plant operators to protect the public by conducting inspections, as well as by tracking performance indicators and comparing them to prescribed risk-informed thresholds. The NRC's four regional offices (Region I in King of Prussia, PA; Region II in Atlanta, GA; Region III in Lisle, IL; and Region IV in Arlington, TX), as well as resident inspectors at each operating nuclear plant, carry out these inspections.

The NRC evaluates a nuclear power plant's staffs' ability to adequately implement the emergency plans to protect the public during a full-scale exercise conducted at least once every two years. These exercises help the licensee to maintain emergency responder skills, and to identify and correct weaknesses in their emergency preparedness program. Evaluators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) examine offsite performance during full-participation exercises. Between these two-year exercises, plants also conduct additional drills that are evaluated by the NRC.

See the following for more information: