Emergency Procedures in Case of Catastrophe Involving the Raleigh Research Reactor
4 pp.
September 6, 1954

September 6, 1954
Clifford Beck
NCSC # 84


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) release 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 followed if such a catastrophe should occur.

Circumstances envisaged:

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 these
radioactive materials in large amount or hazardous concentration outside the
Reactor Building
, would be termed a catastrophe. Destruction of the Reactor
by earthquake or bombs is the type of event 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 those from the building so that hazardous amounts would
move toward other areas of the campus. (Other regulations specify that any
radioactive materials inadvertently released shall be retained in the building as
much as possible by turning off exhaust fans, closing doors, etc., In an emergency,
however, those measures might not be adequate, and they might not be followed).

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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 should


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 insure access to such instruments and equipment in case the Reactor Building
cannot be entered.

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; those
different groups will be called on as needed in emergencies, and there will be
periodic review and discussion between those groups to maintain the procedures in
active status.


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
is known or suspected to have occurred. The Director or Deputy Director
is to be notified as soon as possible.

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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 to member in charge as needed and

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 immediately
undertake a radioactive survey to determine whether or not hazardous amounts of
radioactivity have been released.

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 suspected to be unsafe and the City Fire Department and the City Police Department
must be called.

5. Until police, and firemen arrive, the staff member in charge, with such
assistance as may be available, will ascertain the extent of the hazardous area,
and warn all persons away therefrom.

6. Efforts also shall be directed, both before and after arrival of Police
and Firemen, to determination of the drift direction of the radioactivity.

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7. 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

8. 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 following
items, among others, will be placed at each station:

9. 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.