Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program

Following the accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979, President Carter, through Presidential Executive Order 12148, transferred the lead role for offsite emergency planning and preparedness activities from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). While the NRC has jurisdiction within the plant boundaries, FEMA is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of residents living and working in the emergency planning zone outside the plant.

NRC Emergency Classification System

The NRC has established an emergency classification system that indicates the level of risk to the public:

  • Notification of Unusual Event: Under this category, events are in process or have occurred which indicate potential degradation in the level of safety of the plant. No release of radioactive material requiring offsite response or monitoring is expected unless further degradation of the safety systems occur.
  • Alert: If an alert is declared, events are in process or have occurred which involve an actual or potential substantial degradation in the level of safety of the plant. Any releases of radioactive material from the plant are expected to be limited to a small fraction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Protective Action Guideline (PAG) exposure levels.
  • Site Area Emergency: A site area emergency involves events in process or which have occurred that result in actual or likely major failures of plant functions needed for protection of the public. Any releases of radioactive material not expected to exceed the EPA PAG exposure levels except near the site boundary.
  • General Emergency: Events are in process or have occurred which involve actual or imminent substantial core degradation or melting with potential loss of containment integrity. Releases can reasonably be expected to exceed the EPA PAG exposure levels offsite for more than the immediate site area.

Although Rhode Island does not have any commercial nuclear power plants within its borders, it does fall within the 50 mile Ingestion Exposure Pathway for two nuclear power plants: Millstone Power Station in Waterford, Connecticut and Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The State of Rhode Island's Radiological Emergency Response Plan for the Ingestion Exposure Pathway is a plan to protect the residents and livestock of the state. Predetermined protective action plans are in place to avoid and reduce the potential of ingesting radioactive materials.

If you are a Rhode Island farmer, livestock owner, fruit and vegetable grower, food processor, sod producer, fisherman, or food distributor and are within 50 miles of a Connecticut or Massachusetts nuclear power plant, actions may be required to protect the food or water supplies in the event of radioactive contamination. Copies of the booklet, Radiological Emergency Information for Rhode Island’s Agricultural Community, are distributed by the Department of Environmental Management.

During a radiological emergency, state agencies will dispatch teams to collect a variety of samples and conduct tests to determine if contamination is present. If food and water become contaminated, some protective actions may be necessary. Specific information and instructions to carry out these actions, if required, will be provided through the Emergency Alert System announcements and news releases from the Governor.

Rhode Island Communities Within 50 Miles of Nuclear Power Stations

Town
Millstone Pilgrim
Town
Millstone
Pilgrim
Barrington
X
Newport
X
X
Bristol
X
New Shoreham
X
Burrillville
X
N. Kingstown
X
X
Central Falls
X
N. Providence
X
Charlestown
X
N. Smithfield
X
Coventry
X
Pawtucket
X
Cranston
X
X
Portsmouth
X
X
Cumberland
X
Providence
X
X
E. Greenwich
X
X
Richmond
X
E. Providence
X
Scituate
X
Exeter
X
Smithfield
X
X
Foster
X
S. Kingstown
X
Glocester
X
Tiverton
X
Hopkinton
X
Warren
X
Jamestown
X
X
Warwick
X
X
Johnston
X
X
Westerly
X
Lincoln
X
W. Greenwich
X
Little Compton
X
W. Warwick
X
Middletown
X
X
Woonsocket
X
Narragansett
X
 

X - Indicates which towns are within the 50-mile Ingestion Pathway Zone for each plant.