I. Introduction and Background

[ View in Frames | Document Outline ]

Section Contents

A. Introduction

[ Next | Top of file ]

The objective of the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan (FRERP) is to establish an organized and integrated capability for timely, coordinated response by Federal agencies to peacetime radiological emergencies.


  1. Provides the Federal Government's concept of operations based on specific authorities for responding to radiological emergencies
  2. Outlines Federal policies and planning considerations on which the concept of operations of this Plan and Federal agency specific response plans are based and
  3. Specifies authorities and responsibilities of each Federal agency that may have a significant role in such emergencies.

There are two Sections in this Plan. Section I contains background, considerations, and scope. Section II describes the concept of operations for response.

B. Participating Federal Agencies

[ Prev | Next | Top of file ]

Each participating agency has responsibilities and/or capabilities that pertain to various types of radiological emergencies. The following Federal agencies participate in the FRERP:

  1. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  2. Department of Commerce (DOC)
  3. Department of Defense (DOD)
  4. Department of Energy (DOE)
  5. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  6. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  7. Department of the Interior (DOI)
  8. Department of Justice (DOJ)
  9. Department of State (DOS)
  10. Department of Transportation (DOT)
  11. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
  12. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  13. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  14. General Services Administration (GSA)
  15. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  16. National Communications System (NCS) and
  17. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

C. Scope

[ Prev | Next | Top of file ]

The FRERP covers any peacetime radiological emergency that has actual, potential, or perceived radiological consequences within the United States, its Territories, possessions, or territorial waters and that could require a response by the Federal Government. The level of the Federal response to a specific emergency will be based on the type and/or amount of radioactive material involved, the location of the emergency, the impact on or the potential for impact on the public and environment, and the size of the affected area. Emergencies occurring at fixed nuclear facilities or during the transportation of radioactive materials, including nuclear weapons, fall within the scope of the Plan regardless of whether the facility or radioactive materials are publicly or privately owned, Federally regulated, regulated by an Agreement State, or not regulated at all. (Under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 [Subsection 274.b.], the NRC has relinquished to certain States its regulatory authority for licensing the use of source, byproduct, and small quantities of special nuclear material.)

D. Plan Considerations

[ Prev | Next | Top of file ]

1. Public and Private Sector Response

For an emergency at a fixed nuclear facility or a facility not under the control of a Federal agency, State and local governments have primary responsibility for determining and implementing measures to protect life, property, and the environment in areas outside the facility boundaries. The owner or operator of a nuclear facility has primary responsibility for actions within the boundaries of that facility, for providing notification and advice to offsite officials, and for minimizing the radiological hazard to the public.

For emergencies involving an area under Federal control, the responsibility for onsite actions belongs to a Federal agency, while offsite actions are the responsibility of the State or local government.

For all other emergencies, the State or local government has the responsibility for taking emergency actions both onsite and offsite, with support provided, upon request, by Federal agencies as designated in Section II of this plan.

2. Coordination by Federal Agencies

This Plan describes how the Federal response to a radiological emergency will be organized. It includes guidelines for notification of Federal agencies and States, coordination and leadership of Federal response activities onscene, and coordination of Federal public information activities and Congressional relations by Federal agencies. The Plan suggests ways in which the State, local, and Federal agencies can most effectively integrate their actions. The degree to which the Federal response is merged or to which activities are adjusted will be based upon the requirements and priorities set by the State.

Appropriate independent emergency actions may be taken by the participating Federal agencies within the limits of their own statutory authority to protect the public, minimize immediate hazards, and gather information about the emergency that might be lost by delay.

3. Federal Agency Authorities

Some Federal agencies have authority to respond to certain situations affecting public health and safety with or without a State request. Appendix C of this Plan cites relevant legislative and executive authorities. This Plan does not create any new authorities nor change any existing ones.

A response to radiological emergencies on or affecting Federal lands not occupied by a government agency should be coordinated with the agency responsible for managing that land to ensure that response activities are consistent with Federal statutes governing the use and occupancy of these lands. This coordination is necessary in the case of Indian tribal lands because Federally recognized Indian tribes have a special relationship with the U.S. Government, and the State and local governments may have limited or no authority on their reservations.

In the event of an offsite radiological accident involving a nuclear weapon, special nuclear material, classified components, or all three, the owner (either DOD, DOE, or NASA) will declare a National Defense Area (NDA) or National Security Area (NSA), respectively, and this area will become "onsite" for the purposes of this plan. NDAs and NSAs are established to safeguard classified information, and/or restricted data, or equipment and material. Establishment of these areas places non-Federal lands under Federal control and results only from an emergency event. It is possible that radioactive contamination would extend beyond the boundaries of these areas.

In accordance with appropriate national security classification directives, information may be classified concerning nuclear weapons, special nuclear materials at reactors, and certain fuel cycle facilities producing military fuel.

4. Federal Agency Resource Commitments

Agencies committing resources under this Plan do so with the understanding that the duration of the commitment will depend on the nature and extent of the emergency and the State and local resources available. Should another emergency occur that is more serious or of higher priority (such as one that may jeopardize national security), Federal agencies will reassess resources committed under this Plan.

5. Requests for Federal Assistance

State and local government requests for assistance, as well as those from owners and operators of radiological facilities or activities, may be made directly to the Federal agencies listed in Table II-1, FEMA, or to other Federal agencies with whom they have preexisting arrangements or relationships.

6. Reimbursement

The cost of each Federal agency's participation in support of the FRERP is the responsibility of that agency, unless other agreements or reimbursement mechanisms exist. GSA will be reimbursed for supplies and services provided under this Plan in accordance with prior interagency agreements.

E. Training and Exercises

[ Prev | Next | Top of file ]

Federal agencies, in conjunction with State and local governments, will periodically exercise the FRERP. Each agency will coordinate its exercises with the Federal Radiological Preparedness Coordinating Committee's (FRPCC's) Subcommittee on Federal Response to avoid duplication and to invite participation by other Federal agencies.

Federal agencies will assist other Federal agencies and State and local governments with planning and training activities designed to improve response capabilities. Each agency should coordinate its training programs with the FRPCC's Subcommittee on Training to avoid duplication and to make its training available to other agencies.

F. Relationship to the Federal Response Plan (FRP)

[ Prev | Next | Top of file ]

1. Without a Stafford Act Declaration

Federal agencies will respond to radiological emergencies using the FRERP, each agency in accordance with existing statutory authorities and funding resources. The LFA has responsibility for coordination of the overall Federal response to the emergency. FEMA is responsible for coordinating non-radiological support using the structure of the Federal Response Plan (FRP).

2. With a Stafford Act Declaration

When a major disaster or emergency is declared under the Stafford Act and an associated radiological emergency exists, the functions and responsibilities of the FRERP remain the same. The LFA coordinates the management of the radiological response with the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO). Although the direction of the radiological response remains the same with the LFA, the FCO has the overall responsibility for the coordination of Federal assistance in support of State and local governments using the FRP.

G. Authorities

[ Prev | Top of file ]

The following authorities are the basis for the development of this Plan:

1. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Authorization, Public Law 96-295, June 30, 1980, Section 304. This authorization requires the President to prepare and publish a "National Contingency Plan" (subsequently renamed the FRERP) to provide for expeditious, efficient, and coordinated action by appropriate Federal agencies to protect the public health and safety in case of accidents at commercial nuclear power plants.

2. Executive Order (E.O.) 12241, National Contingency Plan, September 29, 1980. This E.O. delegates to the Director of FEMA the responsibility for publishing the National Contingency Plan (i.e., the FRERP) for accidents at nuclear power facilities and requires that it be published from time to time in the Federal Register. Executive Order 12241 has been amended by Executive Order 12657, FEMA Assistance in Emergency Preparedness Planning at Commercial Nuclear Power Plants.

Authorities for the activities of individual Federal agencies appear in Appendix C.

[ NRC Home Page | Top of file | Contents | Comments ]