SPRINGFIELD – While the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is widely
recognized for its efforts in emergency preparedness and response to events such as floods,
tornadoes and blizzards, the agency also administers more than two dozen radiation safety
programs that help protect people every day from unnecessary exposure to radiation.
As part of its 2012 preparedness campaign, IEMA will highlight these programs and let people
know what they can do to stay safe from radiation they may encounter in their lives.
“People may think if they don’t live near a nuclear power plant, radiation safety doesn’t affect
them,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “But if you’ve ever had an x-ray or nuclear
medicine procedure, live or work in a building that has radon gas, travel on highways where
nuclear spent fuel shipments or other radioactive materials travel, you’ve been affected by one or
more of our programs.”
As home to 11 operating nuclear power reactors at six sites, the most in the U.S., nuclear safety
is a top priority for the state of Illinois. IEMA’s program includes a state-of-the-art remote
monitoring system that transmits thousands of data points 24/7 from inside and around each
of the power plants to IEMA headquarters. The data is continuously monitored, and during an
incident at the plant is analyzed by experts to develop recommended actions for protecting the
IEMA also has state Resident Inspectors stationed at each of the nuclear power stations. The
inspectors perform independent safety inspections of critical equipment at the plant, and report
findings to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which regulates the nuclear
During an incident at the plant, the Resident Inspector would provide first-hand information
to analysts in the Radiological Emergency Assessment Center (REAC), located in the State
Emergency Operations Center in Springfield.
A comprehensive emergency plan, known as the Illinois Plan for Radiological Accidents, has
been developed for each of the six operating plants. The plan details actions local and state
response organizations will take to protect the public during a nuclear power plant incident.
The plan for each plant is practiced every two years through a graded exercise evaluated by the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
With six plants, Illinois in involved in three nuclear power plant drills each year.