Nuclear Power Plant Accidents
Compiled by Dick Oakes
Nuclear Power Plant Accidents - General
Nearly three million Americans live within ten miles of nuclear power plants. If you are among them, you probably need to know more about nuclear power and radiation. Emergency plans define two zones for emergency preparedness.
- This zone covers an area usually within a 10-mile radius of the plant in which potentially harmful direct exposure to radiation is possible.
- This zone covers a 50-mile radius of the plant, where radioactive materials could expose people indirectly by entering the food chain through the contamination of water supplies, food crops, or grazing lands.
Minimizing Radiation Exposure
- Three ways to minimize radiation exposure are shielding, distance, and time.
- This may mean seeking shelter or leaving the area until the threat of radiation passes.
- Communities must advise residents of appropriate protective actions -- whether to seek shelter or to follow a predetermined evacuation route.
- The actual details of an emergency response depend on the nature of the accident: how quickly it is evolving, and how much radioactive material is likely to be released.
- Emergency broadcasts would specify the most advisable course of action. If you are notified that a radiological accident has occurred, immediately tune to your local radio or television station for specific emergency information.
- Don't use the telephone; the lines should be kept clear for emergency calls.
- Stay inside as much as possible and, if you are advised by authorities to evacuate the area, do so.
- Each community near a nuclear power plant has an emergency plan for dealing with a radiological accident. Find out about the plan for your area by contacting your local emergency preparedness director.