Nuclear and Radiological Hazards


     |     Nuclear Plant Info for Marylanders
Radiological Emergency Preparedness Tips     |     Special Info for Agriculture


Radiological and nuclear emergencies are incidents in which a key component involves radioactive material. Different types of radiation emergencies vary in how much damage they can cause and the harm they pose to the public. If a radiation emergency happens, your most important action is to move indoors and monitor radio and television for further instructions.
Some examples of radiation hazards include: a nuclear detonation (explosion), an accident at a nuclear power plant, a transportation accident involving a shipment of radioactive materials, or an occupational exposure (as in a healthcare or research setting).

Nuclear Plant Info for Marylanders

Maryland is home to one nuclear power plant, the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, which is located in Calvert County. The Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, even though it is in southern Pennsylvania, is just three miles from the state line. The Plume Exposure Zones, which is a 10 mile radius from both of these plants, are located within parts of Maryland. Additionally, there are portions  of the state that are within 50 miles, or in the Ingestion Pathway Zone, from three other nuclear Power plants: Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania, Salem/Hope Creek Generating Stations in New Jersey and North Anna Power Station in Virginia.

If an incident leading to a release of radiation occurs at either of these nuclear power plants, the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) would open and staff the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to coordinate the direction and control of the disaster, and to coordinate any and all efforts involved in Maryland's response. 

The SEOC serves as the central point of coordination for all state-level disaster response activities; however, the lead agency responsible for much of the decision making in any such large radiation emergency is actually the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). They'll monitor the incident, take samples, and based on their analysis of the situation, the MDE Secretary will recommend what protective actions should be taken by the affected communities.

To learn more about safety preparations for the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant and the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, check out these resources:

Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant (Calvert County, MD)

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station (York County, PA)

Radiological Emergency Preparedness Tips

  • Learn the radiation basics - what is it, and how does it affect us?
    Check out this guide on radiation and its health effects from our friends at the CDC. To go deeper into the science, this backgrounder from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has you covered.

  • Get prepared
    Visit the page on radiological emergencies for a list of what to do before, during, and after to keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible.

  • Make a Plan
    If you live within 10 miles of either the Calvert Cliffs or Peach Bottom plants, know your evacuation zones and routes.

    If your children attend schools that are within 10 miles of either plant, find out which school they could be relocated to for pick-up. (IMPORTANT: They will be well-protected inside the school buildings until you get there, so do not go to get them until told to do so. This helps ease evacuation congestion and helps necessary traffic run more smoothly and safely.)

    Knowing where to go before an evacuation is ordered helps make sure you're prepared in case one ever is.

  • Familiarize yourself with radiation-specific protective measures
    Some emergency actions, like making a preparedness kit and listening for evacuation orders, are pretty universal. However, radiological emergencies have a few special considerations - learning about them ahead of time will help you feel more confident if a radiological emergency occurs.

    The rule of thumb is:​ ​Get Inside, Stay Inside, and Stay Tuned

    Putting materials (like walls) between you and the radiation helps provide protection while you stay alert for further instructions from responders and local officials.

    If you're interested in learning more about the different kinds of protective actions, this
    summary from the CDC is a great place to get started.

  • Stay Informed
    If you live in one of these zones, knowing where and how to get up-to-date info is key. Sign up for your local emergency alerts and check the website for your county's emergency management office (Calvert, Cecil, Dorchester, Harford, St. Mary's) to keep aware of the latest information, updates, and emergency instructions.

Special Information for Agriculture

Radiological emergencies can have uniquely harmful effects on all forms of agriculture - from adverse effects on plants and soil, to dangers to livestock, and plenty more. So to help Maryland's farmers, growers, and food producers, there's a special guide on how to care for your family and your farm through all of the above.

[click the image above to download guide]