Radiological Hazards

Nuclear Power Plant Emergency Planning

Nuclear power plants are required to have detailed emergency plans to protect the public in the event of an accident that could result in the release of radioactivity. Maine Emergency Management Agency is responsible for maintaining Maine's nuclear plant emergency plans. Those plans are reviewed and updated annually.

Emergency plans for nuclear power plants are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which supervise graded exercises of those plans.

An important State partner in nuclear plant emergency planning is the Maine Radiation Control Program which coordinates nuclear safety and makes public health protective action recommendations for the State.

Maine does not have any nuclear power plants within its own borders. However two nuclear power plants may have an impact in Maine within an area known as the Ingestion Exposure Pathway Zone (IPZ).  These plants are located in Seabrook New Hampshire and Point LePreau, New Brunswick.

The IPZ is a 50 mile area around a nuclear power plant where planning occurs to protect the food chain and environment. Human health is also a consideration but direct exposure from radiation is not expected beyond the 10 mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ). No portion of Maine falls within the EPZ of either facility.

The Seabrook IPZ includes the majority of towns in York County, Maine. The Point LePreau IPZ covers approximately half of the Washington County towns.

Map showing the boundaries of the Ingestion Pathway Planning Zone (IPZ) (50-mile radius) and Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) around Seabrook Station, Seabrook, New Hampshire (.pdf format).

Map showing the Ingestion Pathway (IPZ, 50-mile radius) and Emergency (EPZ) Planning Zones around the Point LePreau Generating Station, New Brunswick, Canada.

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Key Definitions

Emergencies at nuclear power plants are classified at four levels (from least serious to most serious):

Unusual Event

An event at a nuclear facility in process or which has occurred which indicate a potential degradation of the level of the safety of the plant. No releases of radioactive material requiring offsite response or monitoring are expected unless further degradation of safety systems occurs.


An event or events at a nuclear facility in process or have occurred which involve an actual or potential substantial degradation of the level of safety of the plant. Any releases are expected to be limited to small fractions of the Environmental Protection Agency Protective Action Guideline exposure levels.

Site Area Emergency

An event or events at a nuclear facility are in process or have occurred which involve actual or likely major failures of plant functions needed for protection of the public. Any releases are not expected to exceed EPA Protective Action Guideline exposure levels except near the plant site boundary.

General Emergency

An event or events at a nuclear facility are in process or have occurred which involve actual or imminent substantial reactor core degradation or melting with potential for loss of containment integrity. Releases can be reasonable expected to exceed EPA Protective Guideline exposure levels offsite for more than the immediate plant site area.

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References and Resources

FEMA: Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program
The REP Program coordinates the National effort to provide state, local, and tribal governments with relevant and executable planning, training, and exercise guidance and policies necessary to ensure that adequate capabilities exist to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from incidents involving commercial nuclear power plants (NPPs).

Radiological Emergency Plan
In accordance with Maine Revised Statue, Title 37-B, §704, MEMA has developed the Radiological Emergency Response Plan (REP) to provide a framework for state-level emergency management activities and to define how state government interfaces with other emergency management stakeholders, including local, county, and tribal governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), other states, the Federal Government, and the private sector in the response to a radiological incident.

Maine Radiation Control Program
The Radiation Control Program minimizes unnecessary radiation exposure through the licensing and inspection of man made and natural radiation sources, oversight of low-level radioactive waste generators, radioactive emergency preparedness and response, conducting environmental surveillance of nuclear facilities, and providing education on the public health impact associated with Radon in air and water.

NextEra Energy: Seabrook Station
Information about the Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant located in Seabrook, New Hampshire.

Point Lepreau Generating Station
Information about the Point Lepreau Generating Station, located approximately 40 km west of Saint John, New Brunswick and on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, owned and operated by New Brunswick Power Corporation.

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The NRC is an independent agency created by Congress in 1974 to ensure the safe use of radioactive materials for beneficial civilian purposes while protecting people and the environment.

If you have any questions about this program, please contact us.

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