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Technological Hazards
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Nuclear power plant emergencies

Terrorism
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Nuclear blasts
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Recovering from Disaster
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Nuclear Power Plants
Nuclear power plants use the heat caused from nuclear fission to convert water to steam, which powers generators to produce electricity. Nuclear power plants operate throughout the country; producing about 20 percent of the nationís total power.
Although the construction and operation of these facilities are closely monitored and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), accidents are possible. An accident could result in dangerous levels of radiation that could affect the health and safety of the public living near the nuclear power plant.
Local and state governments, federal agencies and electric utilities have emergency response plans in the event of a nuclear power plant incident. The plans define two emergency planning zones. One zone covers an area within a 10-mile radius of the plant, where it is possible that people could be harmed by direct exposure. The second zone covers a broader area, up to a 50-mile radius from the plant, where radioactive materials could contaminate water supplies, food crops and livestock.
The prospective danger from a nuclear power plant incident is exposure to radiation. This exposure comes from the release of radioactive material into the environment, characterized by a plume of radioactive gases and particles. The major hazards to people in the vicinity of the cloud like formations are radiation exposure to the body from the cloud and particles deposited on the ground, inhalation of radioactive materials and ingestion of radioactive materials.
Radioactive materials are composed of atoms that are unstable. An unstable atom gives off its excess energy until it becomes stable, emitting radiation. Each of us is exposed to radiation from natural sources, including the Sun and the Earth. Small traces of radiation are present in food and water. Radiation also is released from man-made sources such as X-ray machines, television sets and microwave ovens. The longer a person is exposed to radiation, the greater the effect. A high exposure to radiation can cause serious illness or death.

Minimizing Exposure to Radiation

Distance - The more distance between you and the source of the radiation, the better. This could be evacuation or remaining indoors to minimize exposure.
Shielding - The heavier and dense material between you and the source of the radiation, the better.
Time - Most radioactivities loses its strength fairly quickly.
If an accident at a nuclear power plant released radiation in your area, local authorities would activate warning sirens or another alert method. They also would instruct you through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on local television and radio stations on how to protect yourself.
Know the Terms:

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a nuclear power plant emergency:
Notification of Unusual Event: A small problem has occurred at the plant. No radiation leak is expected. No action on your part will be necessary.
Alert: A small problem has occurred and small amounts of radiation could leak inside the plant. This will not affect you and no action is required.
Site Area Emergency: Area sirens may be sounded. Listen to your radio or television for safety information.
General Emergency: Radiation could get outside of the plant and off the plant site. The sirens will sound. Tune to your local radio or television station for reports. Be prepared to follow instructions promptly.

Take Protective Measures
What can I do Before a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency?

Obtain public emergency information materials from the power company that operates your local nuclear power plant or your local emergency services office. If you live within 10 miles of the power plant, you should receive these materials yearly from the power company or your state or local government.


What do I do During a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency?

Keep a battery-powered radio with you at all times and listen to the radio for specific instructions.
If you are told to evacuate:
Keep car windows and vents closed; use re-circulating air
If you are advised to remain indoors:
Turn off the air conditioner, ventilation fans, furnace and other air intakes

Go to a basement or other underground area, if possible

Do not use the telephone unless absolutely necessary
If you suspect you have been exposed to nuclear radiation:
Change clothes and shoes

Put exposed clothing in a plastic bag

Seal the bag and place it out of the way

Take a thorough shower
Keep food in covered containers or in the refrigerator. Food not previously covered should be washed before being put in to containers.

What do I do After a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency?

Seek medical treatment for any unusual symptoms, such as nausea, that may be related to radiation exposure.
Follow the instructions for recovering from a disaster