Nuclear Preparedness

What is Radiation?
Everything on earth is made of tiny particles called atoms. Some atoms in our environment naturally give off energy in the form of waves or particles. This energy is called radiation. You cannot hear, see, feel, taste or smell radiation. We receive small amounts of radiation every day from natural and manmade sources such as the air, the sun, minerals in the earth, the food we eat, the building materials in your house, x-rays used by dentists and doctors and our television sets. Even our bodies give off small amounts of radiation. The amount of radiation that a person gets is measured in millirems. The average U.S. citizen receives about 360 millirems per year from these types of natural and manmade sources. Information from detailed monitoring shows that nuclear power plants expose the public to less than one millirem per year.
What is the Emergency Planning Zone?
The area within 10 miles of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) is known as the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ). The County of Orange, in conjunction with other local jurisdictions, San Onofre, the Cities of Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente, and State of California have developed detailed plans for your safety in the unlikely event of an emergency at SONGS.
How Will I be Notified if There is an Emergency?

You will be notified of an emergency by community alert sirens, roving public address systems, and/or emergency phone calls. The sirens are a signal for you to turn your radio or television to a local Emergency Alert System (EAS) station for important information from local officials. Please do not call 911 if you hear the sirens, unless you have a life-threatening emergency. The following radio stations will broadcast emergency information:

  • KWVE FM 107.9 - Santa Ana
  • KOGO AM 600 - San Diego

An annual siren test is conducted each fall; residents and businesses will receive notification in the mail. No action on your part is required during the test.

What is the Difference Between Sheltering and Evacuation?
You may be asked to take sheltering precautions by staying indoors, closing all ventilators, windows and doors, turning off air conditioners and closing fireplace dampers. If you are asked to evacuate, please stay calm. A Reception Center at the Orange County Fairgrounds will be opened if necessary during an emergency.
What is a Reception Center?
A reception center is a meeting place for evacuees to check in and register, get assistance from the American Red Cross, and reunite with family members. The Orange County Reception Center is located at the Orange County Fairgrounds at 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. At the Reception Center, evacuees will be provided with a place to sleep, meals and medical attention, if needed. Government health and fire department personnel will be available to monitor evacuees for exposure to radiological contamination.
What should I take with me?
You should take necessary items for three days including prescribed medication, a small amount of cash, checkbook, toiletries, baby supplies and bedding. You should also take along potassium iodide (KI) tablets if you already have them.
What is potassium iodide?
Potassium iodide, or KI, is a chemical compound that contains iodine and can protect the thyroid gland from exposure to radioactive iodine. KI is only effective against exposure to radioactive iodine and only protects the thyroid gland. It does not protect against other types of radioactivity that might be released during a nuclear emergency. Please note that KI is not an anti-radiation pill and it is considered a supplemental protective measure, secondary to evacuation or sheltering in place. It should only be taken at the direction of state or local public health officials. It is approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is available over the counter.

Emergency Preparedness Information for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station 2012-2013