Nuclear Facility Response

Once an incident has occurred that could release enough radioactive material to exceed Federal government protective action guides, the responsible plant personnel evaluate conditions and recommend public protective actions (e.g. sheltering or evacuation) to the State and local government agencies. Nuclear power plants must give these recommendations to the State or local government within 15 minutes of a General Emergency declaration (the highest level of emergency) and to the NRC Operations Center as soon as possible. All of this must occur within 1 hour of determining that an accident could affect the public.

All NRC licensed facilities' emergency plans must provide reasonable assurance that adequate measures can and will be taken in the event of an emergency. Nuclear power plants must have an onsite emergency response plans, and if required, State and local agencies must have an offsite plan to account for potential impact to people located some distance away from the plant.

Large fuel cycle and materials facilities must have only an onsite radiological emergency response plan. No formal offsite response plan is required, since accidents at these facilities are not expected to affect anyone much beyond the site boundary. (This is the same sort of arrangement for industrial facilities where 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.