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The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (PVNGS) is located approximately fifty-five miles west of downtown Phoenix in Maricopa County. It is located on 4,050 acres of land near the town of Wintersburg, Arizona. PVNGS’s three identical pressurized water reactors provide electric power to the southwest.

Emergency planning for Palo Verde is a cooperative effort involving Pinnacle West Capital Corporation/Arizona Public Service Company (Operating Manager for Palo Verde), the State of Arizona, Maricopa County and the Town of Buckeye. All planning activities represent a comprehensive response to federal regulations and guidelines. Onsite plans (plant oriented) and Offsite Plans (public protection oriented) have been in place, tested, and evaluated by the federal government since 1983, three years prior to the loading of nuclear fuel into the first Palo Verde reactor.

Federal regulations require commercial nuclear power plants to have both onsite and offsite emergency response plans as a condition for obtaining and maintaining a license to operate the plant. The "Palo Verde Emergency Plan” (onsite plan) was prepared and is maintained by PVNGS. The "Offsite Emergency Response Plan for Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station" (offsite plan) was prepared by State and local governments. It is a joint effort to maintain the Offsite Plan. State and local government and PVNGS work closely together to ensure that these plans function in a coordinated manner to protect the public from the effects of radiation exposure in the unlikely event of an accident. The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (PVNGS) is the primary focus for the Arizona Division of Emergency Management’s (ADEM) Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) Program.

Emergency planning for PVNGS is a cooperative effort of ADEM, Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency (ARRA), Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management (MCDEM), PVNGS and numerous volunteer organizations. The state REP program provides Arizona officials with detailed information to help them make decisions on how to protect area residents from a radiological emergency. Response initiatives required for an incident at PVNGS are dependent upon the severity of the situation. Timely and accurate media releases and efficient responses to inquiries from the public are part of the safety plan.

There are two Emergency Planning Zones (EPZ) surrounding PVNGS and they are defined as the Plume Exposure Pathway and the Ingestion Exposure Pathway.

The Plume Exposure Pathway is defined as a radius of 10 miles surrounding PVNGS where protective actions could be required to protect the public from the effects of exposure to radioactive materials. This 10-mile radius has been divided into 16 sectors designated with the letters A through R. The letters “I” and “O” have been omitted to prevent confusion with the numbers. The radius is also divided into mile rings from 1 through 10. This map allows people to determine what sector and mile ring they are in and their proximity to PVNGS.

The Ingestion Exposure Pathway is defined as a radius of approximately 50 miles surrounding PVNGS where food or drinking water could become contaminated because of a release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere.  The pamphlet “Radiological Emergency Information for Farmers, Dairy Farmers, Ranchers, Food Processors, and Distributors” is prepared and distributed to the agricultural community in the 50-mile zone.  Contamination control measures would be implemented to protect the public from eating or drinking any contaminated food or water.  State and local government are prepared to quickly notify and provide advice on what actions to take in the event of a radiological emergency.

The primary means of communications to offsite authorities from PVNGS is by a dedicated telephone circuit, the Notification and Alert Network (NAN).  The NAN links State and local government warning points with PVNGS.  The NAN is tested weekly to insure its operability.

The primary mechanism to notify the public is an Outdoor Warning Siren System placed at various locations in the 10-mile EPZ.  Upon activation, the sirens will sound for approximately three minutes with a steady, high-pitched sound.  Residents should turn on radios or televisions to receive Emergency Alert System (EAS) warning messages, emergency information and protective action instructions. 

Training is offered to State, local and volunteer agencies to prepare them to respond to an unlikely accident at PVNGS. Drills and exercises are conducted several times each year to evaluate plans, emergency response capabilities, and related protocol.  A Plume Exposure Pathway exercise is conducted twice every year.  The Ingestion Exposure Pathway exercises are conducted every six years.  Every other year the Plume exercise is evaluated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and once every six years they evaluate the Ingestion Pathway exercise.

For additional information on our Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program, contact us for assistance.

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