Emergency Procedures in case of Catastrophe Involving the Raleigh Research Reactor
September 6, 1954
NCSC # 84 R
EMERGENCY PROCEDURES IN CASE OF CATASTROPHE INVOLVING THE
RALEIGH RESEARCH REACTOR
Separate procedures have been written to apply to instances in which it is
necessary to evacuate the Reactor Building due to (a) excessive radiation level
from the reactor or (b) relaease of excessive radioactivity within the Building.
In those cases it was assumed that the hazard would not extend outside the Reactor
It is conceivably possible, however, that gross catastrophes might occur which
would create hazardous circumstances outside the Reactor Building and at other
locations on the campus. It is necessary to plan emergency procedures in advance
to be follow ed if such a catastrophe should occur.
Any event which might cause rupture of the fuel cylinder of the Reactor, with
the consequent release of accumulated fission products, and the spread of the
radioactive materials in large amount or hazardous concentration outside the
Reactor Building, would be termed a catastrophe. Destruction of the Reactor Build-
ing by earthquake or bombs is the type of even envisaged.
Catastrophe could also occur without destruction of the Reactor Building. For
example, rupture of the reactor vessel, or spillage of its contents could occur
(after significant build up of fission products), and natural convection or forced
ventilation could discharge these from the building so that hazardous amounts would
move toward other areas of the campus. (other regulations specify that any radio-
active materials inadvertantly released shall be retained in the building as much as
possible by turning off exhaust fans, closing doors, etc., In an emergency, however,
these measures might not be adequate, and they might not be followed).
In all the estimates and analyses which have been made, (e.g. for the Reactor
Safeguard Committee, etc), the possibility of a catastrophe appears to be extremely
remote. Nevertheless, it is an event which could occur. Consideration is given
herein to the procedures which should be followed if such an unlikely accident
- I. if any catastrophe should occur, in which hazardous amounts of radioactive
materials are released onto the campus, every effort shall be taken to ascertain
the drift path taken by the material and to prevent injury to any person who may be
in the path.
- II. Instruments and equipment likely to be needed in detecting and following a
catastrophic release of radioactivity will be maintained at a location outside the
Reactor Building (in addition to such material inside the building). This will in-
sure access to such instruments and equipment in case the Reactor Building cannot
- III. The procedures by which such catastrophic emergencies are handled will be
established by mutual collaboration between the Reactor Staff, appropriate college
committees, the City Fire Department, and the City Police Force; these different
groups will be called on as needed in emergencies, and there will be periodic re-
view and discussion between these groups to maintain the procedures in active
- 1. The Radiological Safety Officer and/or a responsible member of the Reactor
staff shall be notified in case hazardous release of radioactivity from the Reactor
Building is known or suspected to have occurred. The Director or Deputy Director
is to be notified as soon as possible.
- 2. If more than one staff member is present, only one must, by quick agreement,
assume charge of the situation until arrival of one of the officers named above.
The other staff members present will assist the member in charge as needed and dir-
- (a) If the event occurs during normal working hours, the reactor staff will
likely discover the emergency.
- (b) If emergency occurs at other times, the college Protection Office is
provided with a list of names and telephone numbers of staff members who may be
called and a similar list is posted on the front of the Reactor Building.
- 3. The R.S.O., the Director, or the Deputy Director, if these officers are
present when a catastrophe is known or suspected, or whatever other member of the
Reactor Staff is presented knowledge or suspicion of catastrophe, shall notify the
city Fire and Police Departments and shall immediately undertake a radioactive
survey to determine whether or not hazardous amounts of radioactivity have been
- (a) Telephone numbers of the Fire Department and the Police Department are
posted on the front of the Reactor Building and in the R. S. O. Office.
- 4. If hazardous concentrations of radioactivity are discovered outside the Reactor
Building, persons in the vicinity must be warned away from the area known or sus-
pected to be unsafe. Until police, and firement arrive, the staff member in charge,
with such assistance as may be available, will try to ascertain the extent of the
hazardous area and the drift direction of the radioactivity.
- (a) Fifteen minute smoke pots from surplus Army Ordnance stock are maintained
in the Reactor Building, in the R. S. O. office, and in a nearby ware-
house. Release of one of these at intervals may give assistance in
identifying the direction and spread of the radioactive gases.
- 5. It shall be the responsibility of the City Fire, and Police Departments, to
remove persons (both on and off the campus as may be needed) from the area of
hazardous radioactivity, as determined by the members of the reactor staff, and from
the drift path of the radioactive gases, as long as hazardous concentrations persist.
- (a) With the aid of the city Fire and Police Departments, maps of the area
surrounding State College have been marked off in numbered radial and
circular segments to facilitate identification of areas to be evacuated
of personnel if hazardous concentrations of radioactivity move away from
the Reactor site. At the earliest possible moment, the Fire and Policemen
will be notified of movement of hazardous radioactivity toward
any area, so that evacuation procedures can be initiated. Copies
of the specially marked maps are posted in the Reactor Building,
the R. S. O. office, etc., on the campus and in the Fire and Police
Department offices downtown.
- 6. For use in known or suspected emergency release of radioactivity, at least
two stations, one in the Physics Department office near the front entrance to the
Reactor Building and one in the R. S. O. office in Daniels Hall, will be supplied
with emergency instruments and equipment. This equipment will be maintained in
readiness for use and the reactor staff will be instructed in its use. The foll-
owing items, among others, will be placed at each station:
- 1. A Beta-gamma survey meter with multiple ranges
- 2. A Chem-ox gas mask outfit
- 3. A Chemical type gas mask
- 4. Two paper filter respirators
- 5. A Flashlight
- 6. A Hand ax
- 7. One dozen light signal flares.
- 8. Two 15 minute smoke pots,
- and other incidental items.
- 7. When hazard from the incident has subsided, the reactor staff, with the aid of
other agencies involved, will ascertain as accurately as possible the exposures
which may have occurred and the extent of any possible injuries sustained. A
detail report on the incident will be prepared.