State and Local Response Actions

Only State and local governments can order the public to take protective actions. These actions are based on plant operator recommendations regarding options such as evacuation, sheltering, or taking potassium iodide pills, if applicable.  The NRC provides advice, guidance, and support. The State and local government agencies decide which protective actions are necessary (whether they receive recommendations or not), and are responsible for informing the public, normally within approximately 15 minutes of an official decision.

State and local government officials with the authority and responsibility to respond to a nuclear power plant emergency could be located at multiple facilities. For example, there may be more than one State and several local governments with authority within about 10 miles of a plant. Each State and local government has 24-hour emergency response communication capabilities through 911 call centers, law enforcement organizations, and/or emergency management agencies.

State and local emergency response plans include how to activate emergency response organizations and establish a local emergency operations center. The local emergency operations center coordinates decisions and implementation of protective actions with other government organizations.

At the State level (and at some localities), emergency response includes two levels: (1) an organization that conducts technical assessments (e.g., radiation dose assessment of the public, accident consequence assessment, environmental monitoring); and (2) decisionmakers (e.g., governor, State emergency management agency director, highest local elected officials, or a designated representative).