The Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Program covers emergency planning issues related to the State’s one operating nuclear power plant – Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP). The NPP program also continues coordination with one decommissioning nuclear power plant - San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and two retired nuclear power plants - Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant and Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station. The NPP program works with federal, state, local and utility officials in emergency planning, training and exercises to test emergency readiness. Together, through these combined preparedness efforts, the State of California provides reasonable assurance that appropriate measures can be taken to protect the health and safety of the public in the event of a radiological emergency at a nuclear power plant.
Map of California Nuclear Power Plants
For more information on the NPP Program, contact:
Mary Wilshire(916) firstname.lastname@example.org
In 1979, following the accident at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, the California State Legislature mandated that the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), together with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and affected counties, investigate the consequences of a serious nuclear power plant accident. Based on site-specific studies in 1980, Emergency Planning Zones (EPZ) around the plant sites were established in detail and integrated plans were developed.
Legislation mandating the NPP program has been continuous since 1979, enacted as Government Code and Health and Safety Code sections, called the Radiation Protection Act.
In the event of an emergency at one of California’s nuclear power plants, Cal OES is prepared to mobilize state resources and to request and coordinate federal resources to mitigate the effects of radiation released into the atmosphere.
While Cal OES has coordination authority during emergency response, CDPH will provide radiological assessments during all phases of such emergencies and will be the technical lead during “ingestion pathway” and “recovery” phases of an emergency. The goal during ingestion pathway response is preventing contaminated water, food and food animals from reaching the consumer. The goal during recovery is restoring areas to pre-accident conditions.
Emergency Plans: Federal regulations require nuclear power plants, states and surrounding counties have a federally tested and approved emergency response plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for ensuring adherence to emergency planning and exercise requirements by emergency response organizations outside of the power plant boundaries which is referred to as “offsite”. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is responsible for the regulatory application of these guidelines at the nuclear power plant which is referred to as “onsite”. Radiation releases are monitored and controlled by strict Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines to keep the public and emergency responders safe.
Emergency Notification: In the event of a nuclear power plant incident, the power plant (utility company) immediately notifies the California State Warning Center and counties in the Plume Exposure Pathway Emergency Planning Zones (EPZ). The Warning Center continues the notification process to other agencies according to procedures for NPP incidents. The power plant provides the emergency classification level (ECL) and plant information to the Warning Center for updates along the notification chain.
Emergency Classification Levels (ECL): Federal guidelines classify emergency conditions at U.S. nuclear power plants into four levels. They are listed below in order from the least to the most serious:
Emergency Planning Zones (EPZ): The EPZ is the area surrounding a nuclear power plant for which plans/procedures exist to ensure that prompt and effective actions occur to protect the health and safety of the public in case of an incident. FEMA recognizes two types of EPZs for planning purposes: the plume exposure pathway EPZ and the ingestion exposure pathway EPZ. Additionally California has established a third planning zone called the public education zone.
Protective Actions: State and local authorities will make protective action decisions for people in the Emergency Planning Zones from recommendations by the utility and field monitoring data from the local Dose Assessment Centers. Possible protective actions are:
The safety of the public is of the upmost importance and Cal OES participates in exercises in the emergency planning zones around the nuclear power plants in California. Exercises are evaluated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the results are published in an after action report that is available to the public.
The current 8 year exercise cycle began in 2014. In addition to the exercises listed above, nuclear plants and local jurisdictions conduct numerous self-evaluated drills throughout the year.
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Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP), operated by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), is located in San Luis Obispo County and has two operating units (Units 1 & 2) that are licensed until 2024 and 2025 respectively. The two units produce a total of 18,000 gigawatt hours of electricity annually. DCPP also has an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation with spent fuel in dry storage.