What is SAE?
SITE AREA EMERGENCY is an event in progress or that has occurred which involves actual or likely major failures of plant functions needed for protection of the public. Any releases of fission products are not expected to exceed Environmental Protection Agency Protective Action Guideline exposure levels except near the nuclear power plant boundary.
Purpose of SAE
The purpose of the Site Area Emergency Classification Level declaration is to assure that response centers are manned, that monitoring teams are dispatched, that personnel required for evacuation of near-site areas are at duty stations if the situation becomes more serious, and to provide consultation with off-site authorities and updates for the public through off-site authorities.
Site Area Emergencies are major failures but immediate action by the public is not needed. At this level of emergency, the public would normally be notified and instructed to stand by for further instructions. Some examples1 of initiating actions for a Site Area ECL are:
- Known loss of coolant greater than makeup pump capacity.
- Boiling Water Reactor steam line break outside containment without isolation.
- Pressure Water Reactor steam line break with greater than 50 gallons per minute primary to secondary leakage and indication of fuel damage.
- Loss of on-site power and lost off on-site AC power for more than 15 minutes.
- Loss of functions needed for plant hot shutdown.
- Major damage to spent fuel in containment or fuel handling building (e.g., large object damages fuel or water lost below fuel level.
- Fire affecting safety systems.
- Winds in excess of design levels.
- Aircraft crash affection vital structure by impact or fire.
- Other plant conditions which exist that warrant activation of emergency centers and monitoring teams and a precautionary public notification.
1 The above examples have been edited for a non-technical audience.
Nuclear Power Plant Actions at a SAE:
- Promptly inform State and/or local off-site authorities of the Site Area Emergency status and reason for the emergency as soon as it is discovered.
- Augment resources by activating on-site Technical Support Center (TSC), on-site Operational Support Center (OSC) and near-site Emergency Operations Facility (EOF).
- Assess and respond.
- Dispatch on-site and off-site monitoring teams and associated communications.
- Dedicate an individual for plant status updates to off-site authorities and periodic press briefs (joint briefings with off-site local and state authorities and upon arrival, Federal authorities as well).
- Make senior technical and management staff on-site available for consultation with NRC and State authorities on a periodic basis.
- Provide meteorological and dose estimates to off-site authorities for actual releases via a dedicated individual or automated data transmission.
- Provide release and dose projections based on available plant condition information and foreseeable contingencies.
- Escalate to General Emergency class, if appropriate. OR
- Close out or recommend reduction in emergency class by briefing of off-site authorities at EOF and by phone followed by written summary within 8 hours of closeout or class reduction.
Broad View of State and/local Off-site Authority Actions at a SAE:
- Provide requested assistance following established disaster support procedures.
- If the protective action of "in-house shelter" near the site is desirable, activate public information notification system within at least two miles of the plant2.
- The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated; Governor proclaims Disaster Emergency condition. Key emergency radiological response personnel are dispatched to establish a State Field Command Post.
- Resources are augmented, local government EOCs and other required local emergency services are activated.
- The Emergency Alert System is activated to provide public notification of the emergency status and periodic updates.
- Off-site monitoring results are provided to plant and others who jointly assess the situation.
- State and local governments continuously assess information from licensee and off-site monitoring with regard to the need for changes to the protective actions already initiated and for mobilizing evacuation resources.
- The recommendation for placing livestock on stored feed and water within 10 miles of the plant is made.
- The Joint Information Center is established for the release of information to the media and to provide periodic press briefings or news releases.
- Maintain Site Area Emergency status until closeout or reduction of the emergency class. OR
- Escalate to General Emergency Class.
2 For emergency operations in response to incidents at the Cooper and Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Stations, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is always activated at the declaration of Site Area Emergency even if no protective actions are required.
Specific View of State Actions at a SAE:
- The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) Communications Center in Lincoln and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) will be concurrently notified by the Nuclear Power Plant affected. (After normal working hours, the NSP Communications Center will notify the NEMA Duty Officer.)
- The NEMA Operations Officer will in turn will notify the Nebraska Health and Human Services Regulation and Licensure (HHS R&L) Point of Contact and the Governor's Authorized Representative (GAR).
- The HHS R&L Point of Contact telephones the affected Nuclear Power Plant and obtains the most current information.
- The HHS R&L Point of Contact then telephones the GAR with an assessment of the plant's condition.
- Based on the most current information, the GAR activates the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), and if after hours, recalls additional personnel to man it.
- SEOC resources are augmented by other state agencies.
- The Governor proclaim a Disaster Emergency Condition.
- If not done at the Alert ECL, the GAR through the NEMA Operations Officer dispatches key emergency response personnel, including radiological monitoring teams with associated equipment and communications to establish a State Field Command Post at the Plant EOF.
- The GAR and his staff depart to the Plant EOF (GAR maintains contact with SEOC en route
- Designated NEMA staff depart for the Joint Information (Media) Center
- Designated NEMA staff depart for Risk Counties (those counties within 10 miles of the affected power plant) and for Host Counties (those counties which have been designated to receive evacuees) should an evacuation protective action guide be implemented.
- HHS R&L Dose Assessment and Field Monitoring Teams depart for affected Nuclear Power Plant.
- The SEOC verifies that sirens in the affected counties have been sounded and that the initial Emergency Alert Message (EAS) has been sent and broadcast and affected county governments have been notified.
- The GAR directs the SEOC (in consultation/notification with other affected states and if time permits)
- To have animals sheltered and placed on stored feed and water within 10 miles of the affected power plant.
- To have the air space above the affected power plant closed to an altitude of 5,000 feet.
- To have the Missouri River closed:
- For Cooper: From Mile Marker 516 to Mile Marker 544
For Fort Calhoun: From Mile Marker 630 to Mile Marker 660
- To have "winds aloft" readings taken.
- To notify the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and, as required, request assistance.
- To verify State Parks have closed and park visitors directed away from the power plant.
- Of hazard areas and protective action guideline decisions made in conjunction with local governments as necessary. (A continuous action)
- To verify evacuation procedures are being implemented by the local government emergency operations center for Special Needs Populations (Shut-ins, handicapped, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and jails) if required.
- To verify that Reception and Care facilities in Host Counties have been opened as necessary.
- SEOC coordinates the release of Emergency Public Information through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) once decision has been made by the GAR in consultation with the affected local governments.(A continuous action)
- The GAR through the SEOC provides local governments with requested assistance following established disaster procedures. (A continuous action)
- The GAR coordinates actions taken or to be taken with affected neighboring state representatives. (A continuous action)
- The Joint Information Center is activated and provides periodic press briefings and news releases. (A continuous action)
- Health and Human Services Regulation and Licensure (HHS R&L) off-site monitoring teams, together with plant and neighboring state teams, provide monitoring results to the power plant and others. (A continuous action)
- The GAR, HHS R&L representative, neighboring state representatives jointly assess the situation with the power plant and local government representatives. (A continuous action)
- Maintain the Site Area Emergency status until closeout or reduction in emergency class. OR
- Escalate to the General Emergency Class