MEMA's Nuclear Preparedness Department (NPD) is responsible for overseeing planning, training, equipment and exercises to support a radiological emergency response for the Massachusetts population within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zones (EPZs) around nuclear power stations. This is a peak population of approximately 252,200 persons in the vicinity of Pilgrim Station in Plymouth, Seabrook Station in New Hampshire, and the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vermont. The NPD also has safety plans in place for the Yankee Rowe Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation in Rowe, MA
To protect the food supply in the event of a radiological emergency, the Nuclear Preparedness Department works closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Radiation Control Program in planning, training and exercises within the power station's' 50-mile radii, known as the Ingestion Pathway Zones (IPZ). Together, these areas comprise most of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The Nuclear Preparedness Department has developed and maintains detailed radiological emergency response plans and implementing procedures for communities and facilities within the three EPZs. All plans and procedures are reviewed annually, updated as needed, and tested through regular exercises. The following list summarizes the types of organizations and facilities for which plans have been developed:
- Emergency Planning Zone and host communities
- State, Federal, or private agencies with major response duties
- Transportation staging areas
- Transportation providers
- Reception Centers for the general public
- Mass Care Shelters
- Radiological Emergency Worker Monitoring & Decontamination Stations (RWEMDS)
- Schools, licensed day care facilities, and children's camps
- Nursing homes, hospitals, and group homes
- Correctional facilities
In addition, the Nuclear Preparedness Department coordinates with peripheral communities along pre-designated evacuation routes. Together with local and state police, NPD planners have developed traffic and access control plans to support orderly and timely evacuation should it ever be necessary.
TRAININGS AND EXERCISES
Through MEMA's Training Department, annual training is offered to all radiological emergency responders, both full-time professionals and volunteers. This consists of approximately 4,700 responders for Pilgrim; 1,400 for Seabrook; and 650 for Vermont Yankee. In addition, MEMA conducts full-scale, federally evaluated emergency exercises for each power plant once every two years. Training Description
RADIOLOGICAL INSTRUMENTATION MAINTENANCE & CALIBRATION FACILITY IN DEVENS
The Radiological Instrumentation Maintenance & Calibration (RIM&C) Facility located at the National Guard facility in Devens is licensed to repair and calibrate the personal dosimetry and monitoring equipment used in the Nuclear Preparedness Program. At present, the facility primarily serves host communities, Massachusetts Department of Public Health Radiation Control Program, and the Commonwealth's Nuclear Incident Advisory Team (NIAT), as well as other state agencies with responsibilities for radiological emergency preparedness, such as the Massachusetts National Guard.
The RIM&C Facility schedules dosimetry repair and calibration work for communities throughout the Commonwealth on an as-needed basis. Communities and other emergency response organizations may request assistance from the Radiological Instrumentation Maintenance & Calibration Facility by contacting their regional MEMA office.
POTASSIUM IODIDE (KI)
Potassium iodide (KI) is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter drug that can be used to protect the thyroid gland from immediate and future radiation injury caused by radioactive iodine released during a nuclear accident.
It is important to note that KI is effective only against exposure to radioactive iodine and only protects the thyroid. Numerous other radionuclides may be released in an accident situation and KI would not protect individuals from these other types of radioactivity. The primary method of protection is evacuation and sheltering-in-place, and KI should be viewed as an adjunct to these primary measures.
Additional information on the use of KI may be found on the MDPH webpage at http://www.mass.gov/dph/
EMERGENCY PUBLIC INFORMATION
Each year, Emergency Public Information calendars are published and distributed to residents and businesses within the Pilgrim, Seabrook, and Vermont Yankee emergency planning zones. The calendars provide information on the emergency plans, including what to do if directed to evacuate or shelter-in-place, They also include, information for parents of children in school or licensed day cares and, information for people with special needs. A copy of each EPI calendar can be found here-
The Nuclear Power Plant Calendars are located under Publications & Reports to the right of this page. Audio files of the emergency information (in .mp3 format) are located in the right-hand column of this webpage as well.
In the event of an emergency, the following services, if needed, would be provided through the Radiological Emergency Response Plan:
- Environmental monitoring and accident assessment
- Protective action decision making
- Interstate coordination of information and response activities
- Public alerting and information
- Traffic and access control
- Transportation for persons without a ride during an evacuation
- Assistance for persons with special needs
- Precautionary actions for children in schools, licensed day care, and summer camps
- Warning to persons in state forests and wilderness areas
- Radiological monitoring of crops, dairy products, meat and poultry, fish farms, fish and game, and water supplies
- Guidance for gardeners, farmers, and food processors
- Possible evacuation of some locations
- Possible relocation of population from some locations
- Radiological monitoring of evacuees and their vehicles
- Crisis counseling and assistance with family reunification
- Accommodations and meals for evacuees
- Continuity of government
- Assistance for business restoration
- Public and private assistance through American Nuclear Insurers
- Continuity of essential services such as schools, medical care, banking, employment assistance, utilities, and housing
Radiological emergency response plans and procedures provide step-by-step guidance to effective response and include current resource lists with phone and pager numbers for easy implementation. While they have never been needed for a nuclear emergency in Massachusetts-and we hope they never will be-they have proven effective when used for other real emergencies.