Abundant Safety Systems at Indian Point

The Indian Point plants are designed with abundant safety systems and multiple components to prevent accidents. And, no matter how unlikely the chances of an accident affecting the public may be, a significant investment of time and resources has gone into ensuring that everyone within the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) has the information they need to respond safely and appropriately. The physical manifestation of this collaborative public-private effort is in the Emergency Planning Information Booklet that you receive in the mail each year. You may also access .pdf versions of these guides in the EPZ section of our website. And, emergency planning resources are offered by New York State and the Red Cross.

Below are answers to some of the most pressing emergency planning questions. If you do not find the answers you are looking for, please contact us for additional information.

How You Will Be Notified Of An Emergency

If there ever is an emergency at the Indian Point site, the public would be informed through the news media and kept apprised of developments through regular updates from the Joint Information Center (JIC).

In more extreme instances where there is a potential for, or an actual release of radiological materials to the environment, each County Executive—in partnership with New York State officials and the other County Executives—might sound the emergency sirens. The sirens are part of the Alert Notification System, a state-of-the-art system controlled by the counties. The system consists of an outdoor notification system (sirens) and reverse telephone notification system.

There are 172 sirens located within the 10-mile EPZ surrounding the Indian Point Energy Center.

The sounding of sirens may be first in a series of alerting methods and is intended to notify all within audible range (primarily outdoors) to tune into their local Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio or television stations for additional information and instructions. Sirens do NOT mean that residents should evacuate. Once you have tuned into one of the local EAS stations, you will be directed to take 1 of 2 courses of action: sheltering-in-place or evacuation.

In addition to the outdoor siren notification system, there are two other systems at work to reach residents and businesses via phone and wireless communications. The first of these, which is utilized by the counties, is the reverse telephone notification system that calls phone numbers that are listed in its database. Databases are usually compiled with the assistance of the telephone company and county directories. The second outreach system is NY-Alert, New York State’s emergency information system.

Entergy encourages all residents and businesses to register for emergency event alerting and notification because, by signing up for NY-Alert (www.nyalert.gov); you can receive warnings and emergency information via the Web, your cell phone, email, and other technologies. This is a free service and your information is protected and never shared with anyone else. You can modify what type of information you receive or unsubscribe at any time. It is a tool to provide critical information when you may need it most.

Emergency Alert System (EAS)

If you are alerted by the warning signal, you should tune to your local Emergency Alert System (EAS) station for emergency instructions. EAS is the direct link between you and the people responsible for your safety. Instructions may be given to you at any hour, day or night, and will include recommendations as to what you should do for your protection. Follow instructions carefully. Do not worry if you miss the beginning of an emergency broadcast. Information will be provided regularly.

Local EAS Stations:

AM Radio

  • WFAN 660
  • WABC 770
  • WCBS 880
  • WINS 1010
  • WWLE 1170
  • WGNY 1270
  • WFAS 1230
  • WALL 1340
  • WLNA 1420

FM Radio

  • WRRV 92.7
  • WHUD 100.7
  • WJGK 103.1
  • WFAS 103.9

Television

  • WCBS Ch 2
  • WNBC Ch 4
  • WNYW Ch 5
  • WABC Ch 7

Please note that stations may not be available in all four counties.

Emergency information may also be carried on the following stations:

AM Radio

  • WRKL 910
  • WTBQ 1110
  • WRCR 1300

FM Radio

  • WNEW 102.7
  • WSPK 104.7
  • WXPK 107.1

Television

  • NEWS 12 Hudson Vallery
  • WRNN
The Four Emergency Levels

If an emergency is declared at Indian Point, it would be categorized into one of four emergency levels as determined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

  1. Unusual Event:
    This means a minor problem has occurred at the plant. It may involve situations such as hazardous weather or a minor equipment problem. Public officials would be notified, but there would be no need to sound the sirens. People in the area would not need to take any special actions.
  2. Alert:
    This could affect plant safety, but it is not expected to require any special actions by residents. Public officials would be notified. They would monitor the situation and be ready to act if the situation degraded. As a precaution, public officials may mobilize transportation resources. They may transfer school children to host School Reception Centers outside the area and close parks and waterways.
  3. Site Area Emergency:
    This means a more serious problem affecting the plant and plant boundaries has occurred. Any release of radioactive materials would be below federal limits. Sirens could be sounded. State and local officials could keep people informed about any necessary actions through Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio or TV stations. As a precaution, county officials would move school children to School Reception Centers outside the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone, if this had not already been done. Other precautionary actions would be implemented by State and county officials, as needed.
  4. General Emergency: :
    This is the most serious type of emergency. It could involve serious damage at the plant and a release of radioactive materials. Sirens would be sounded. County officials might direct persons in some areas to shelter-in-place or evacuate to a safer location. Special instructions and other important information would be issued over the Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio stations.
What protective action should I take?

If there were an emergency at the Indian Point Energy Center, public safety officials might sound the emergency sirens. They would then use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcasts to direct people to take protective actions. Public safety officials could, for example, direct people in specific Protective Action Areas to stay inside behind closed windows and doors. This protective action is called “sheltering-in-place” or simply “sheltering.” Or, public safety officials could direct people living in specific Protective Action Areas to evacuate. Those people would be directed to leave their Protective Action Areas to a point outside the EPZ.

Sheltering Instructions

Sheltering-in-place, that is, being directed by public officials to stay in a house or building with windows and doors closed and outside air vents shut, can be an effective emergency response to a radiation release. Because of wind and other weather conditions, for example, a brief release of radiation could pass through the area very quickly. In that situation, sheltering-in-place would provide the best protection. Sheltering-in-place may also be the preferred action in cases where bad weather, such as a snowstorm, prevents efficient evacuation. You could even be told to shelter only until officials mobilize their forces to support an evacuation.

If you are instructed to remain indoors (“sheltering-in-place”) because of an emergency, you should:

  • Keep family and pets inside
  • Close all windows and doors.
  • Turn off heaters, air conditioners and any other ventilation systems.
  • Extinguish fires in fireplaces and close dampers.
  • Stay tuned to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) stations.
  • Avoid using telephones, including cell phones, to prevent overloading the system and interfering with emergency use.
Evacuation

The order to evacuate specific Protective Action Areas would be given by public safety officials through EAS broadcasts on radio or television. Evacuation might only be a precaution. You might be able to return home relatively soon. The entire EPZ would probably not be evacuated—only specific Protective Action Areas.

Based on the plant conditions and wind directions, people in specific Protective Action Areas may be instructed to leave. That is why you should know which Protective Action Area you are in, so you do not evacuate unnecessarily. An unnecessary evacuation would tie up traffic for people in the Protective Action Area actually being evacuated. Do not evacuate unless your specific Protective Action Area is told to do so by officials on Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcasts.

If you are instructed to evacuate because of an emergency, you should:

  • Be certain that your Protective Action Area is being evacuated. Do not evacuate unnecessarily
  • If your Protective Action Area is being evacuated, you should arrange to leave as soon as possible by car or emergency bus
  • Keep your car windows closed and use only re-circulating ventilation if your car is so equipped
  • Refer to your emergency planning information booklet for items to bring with you during an evacuation
  • Take the evacuation routes designated on the map contained in your emergency planning information booklet
  • If you have children in school, they will probably have already been relocated by school authorities. You can pick them up at their School Reception Center shown on the map contained in your emergency planning information booklet
  • Proceed to your Protective Action Area’s General Population Reception Center designated on the map in the emergency planning information booklet. As an alternative, you can go to the home of a relative or friend that is outside of the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ)

If your Protective Action Area is being evacuated, remain calm and follow directions carefully. Public officials make every effort to allow for sufficient time to evacuate a Protective Action Area before there is danger of exposure.

General Population Reception Centers

For families being evacuated who may not have a relative or friend whom they can go to outside of the EPZ, the counties have established General Population Reception Centers. These centers are located in facilities outside of the EPZ, and are tied to specific Protective Action Areas. You can find the specific Reception Center for your Protective Action Area in the emergency planning information booklet sent to homes and businesses. At these Centers, families will be monitored for possible radiological contamination. And, they will be able to obtain information on a place to stay, food, medical attention, or other needs. Safety and public health officials will be present at each Center.

Evacuation Routes and Transportation

Evacuation Routes
Emergency evacuation routes have been designated in each county. Residents should follow the evacuation routes identified on the map in the emergency planning information booklet to their General Population Reception Centers unless otherwise instructed by county or law enforcement officials. Safety officials will have various traffic control strategies in place to make travel as efficient as possible.

While traveling in your vehicle during an evacuation keep all windows and vents closed until you have left the EPZ. And, remember to keep your radio tuned to an Emergency Alert System station.

Emergency Buses
If you do not own a car, free emergency buses will pick you up along pre-designated bus routes located near your home. The buses will take you to your General Population Reception Center. Emergency bus routes closest to you are identified in the map in the emergency planning information booklet. County officials will notify residents through the media (radio and/or TV) when pickups will begin.

What To Do When You Leave

As you evacuate, remember to:

  • Turn off lights and unnecessary appliances.
  • Close and lock windows and doors.
  • Check with neighbors to see if they need assistance. Offer to share transportation, if you can.
  • If you need a ride, try to get one with neighbors.
  • If you cannot get a ride, buses will pick you up along bus routes and at pick-up points.
  • If you have livestock, shelter them. Leave them a three-day supply of stored feed and water that has been protected from possible contamination.

Consider items you may want to take with you:

  • Clothing for several days, with warm and cool layers
  • Toiletry articles (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)
  • Prescription medicines, medical equipment and important medical records
  • Eyeglasses/contacts and solution
  • Special dietary foods
  • Baby supplies: food, formula, diapers, toys, etc.
  • Identification (driver's license) and important papers, medical insurance card, photos of children
  • Portable radio with spare batteries
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • KI-potassium iodide tablets
  • Bottled water
  • Checkbook, credit card and cash
  • Blankets, pillows and towels (if you plan to stay in publically provided shelters)
Children in Schools

An emergency could, of course, occur at any time of the day or night. It could happen during hours when your children are in school. Because of this possibility, county officials, in close consultation with safety experts from New York State, other counties and school districts, have worked out careful plans for relocating schoolchildren in a potential emergency.

As a precautionary action, at the first indication of a potential problem, emergency officials might decide to relocate schoolchildren. The children would be taken with their teachers by bus to School Reception Centers located outside of the EPZ. The School Reception Centers provide temporary care for children awaiting pick-up by parents. To avoid congestion and delays, parents should not attempt to pick up their children at school during an emergency. Children who are relocated to School Reception Centers will be registered and will stay there, under the care of teachers, until parents can pick them up.

Relocation is a precautionary action. The County Executive would make the decision to relocate schoolchildren relatively quickly in order to get schoolchildren safely out of the way of any potential danger. Children will be taken to a General Population Reception Center only if there is a need for qualified caregivers to feed and shelter the children until parents arrive.

Remember: School Reception Centers are not the same as General Population Reception Centers.

TV and radio broadcasts will keep you informed about school relocations. The School Reception Centers corresponding with your children's schools are located on the map in the Emergency Planning Information Booklet.

If your child's school is relocated:

  • Don't worry if you can't immediately pick up your children for any reason. They will be cared for at the reception center or ultimately at a General Population Reception Center.
  • School Reception Centers will be used only if students need to be relocated during school hours. If an evacuation of a Protective Planning Area should be ordered after your children are already at the School Reception Centers, they will not be a part of the evacuation. You must pick them up at their school's School Reception Center.
  • If your child or children are in daycare, nursery school, after school programs or other settings located within the EPZ, check with their daycare provider on emergency plans for their location.

Please note:

  • Relocation of schoolchildren would most likely be carried out as a precaution only. Relocation would not be an indication that a radiological release would occur or has occurred. It would not necessarily mean that an evacuation would be ordered either.
  • Check with your child's school to learn more about relocation planning.
  • If parents would like to authorize another person to pick up their children—a grandparent or babysitter, for example—they should contact their child’s school as soon as possible. They must follow that school’s procedures for formally identifying the person who would pick up their child.
People with Special Needs

If there is a need for an evacuation, the counties have plans in place to pick up and transport people with special needs who have no other means of transportation. Special needs could include a walking disability, sight or hearing impairment, or required specialized medical equipment and transportation. People with special needs would be taken to General Population Reception Centers or other facilities.

People with special needs should fill out the registration card in your emergency planning information booklet and mail it the appropriate county agency or register on-line, if available, so that arrangements for help can be made. You should register every year to keep the county records up-to-date.

Hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities within 10 miles of Indian Point have emergency plans to keep their residents safe, including provisions for transporting residents to host facilities.

If you have a family member in a facility and require information about their emergency planning initiatives, please contact the facility administrator.

Taking Care of Your Pets and Livestock

If you are directed to evacuate, you will want to take your pets with you. However, pets will not be permitted inside General Population Reception Centers (except service animals such as seeing-eye dogs). Make a list of places that would accept your pets in an emergency, such as boarding kennels, or friends and relatives outside the EPZ.

Each county is developing limited emergency kennel space a Reception Centers. This is being done to accommodate people who cannot make other arrangements for their pets beforehand. Per owners should plan to bring their own supplies, including food, leashes, cages and carriers etc. Trained volunteers will be available to assist owners with pet care and feeding. Please be mindful that space at these locations is limited, so we encourage everyone to make other plans for their pets before any emergency.

If you have livestock or agricultural products, useful information is available by calling 800-554-4501 and asking for the brochure, Radiological Emergency Information for the Agricultural Community.

How can KI-potassium iodide protect me and my family in the event of an emergency?

Potassium iodide, known by its chemical symbol KI, is an over-the-counter medication. In the event of a serious nuclear plant emergency, potassium iodide (KI) can be used as a supplement to sheltering and evacuation. It reduces the risk of thyroid cancer from exposure to radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine could be among the materials released in a severe emergency. Potassium iodide (KI) protects only the thyroid gland from exposure to radioactive iodine. It does not protect any other part of the body, and it does not protect from other forms of radiation. All four counties have made potassium iodide (KI) available, free of charge, to everyone living in the EPZ. Because potassium iodide (KI) is most effective if taken within a few hours of a release, residents should be in possession of KI tablets prior to an emergency. You should obtain a supply of potassium iodide (KI) for your family and keep it in a safe place as a precaution. Obtaining potassium iodide (KI) prior to an emergency is a step closer to being prepared to protect your thyroid gland.

One potassium iodide (KI) tablet protects the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine for approximately 24 hours. It is most effective if taken immediately prior to exposure as directed. However, thyroid protection can still be achieved by swallowing a potassium iodide (KI) tablet up to 6 hours after radiation exposure.

County authorities will advise the public through news broadcasts on TV and radio when and if they should swallow KI-potassium iodide tablets. Both adults and children would be instructed by public health officials what dosages they should swallow.

County authorities will advise the public through news broadcasts on TV and radio when and if they should swallow potassium iodide (KI) tablets. Both adults and children would be instructed by public health officials as to what dosages they should swallow. Listen to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) stations for instructions about potassium iodide (KI).

If you are told to swallow potassium iodide (KI) and evacuate but you do not have potassium iodide (KI), simply evacuate. If necessary, you will be given potassium iodide (KI) at your General Population Reception Center.

If you need to receive your supply of KI, please contact your county's office of emergency services:

845-808-4000   Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services
845-615-0400   Orange County Department of Emergency Services
845-364-8800   Rockland County Office of Fire and Emergency Services
914-864-5450   Westchester County's Office of Emergency Services
518-292-2311   New York State Disaster Preparedness Commission