Off Campus Nuclear Emergencies

Connecticut College is located within 5 miles of the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant, and within 2 miles of the Groton Naval Submarine Base. Although highly unlikely, a serious nuclear power plant emergency could result in the release of radioactive material.

Emergency sirens are located throughout the approximate 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone. These sirens are designed to alert the public of a nuclear power plant emergency, natural disaster, or other major emergency. When necessary, these sirens will be activated by emergency officials of the city of New London City. The sirens are maintained and routinely tested by Millstone Station personnel. (There is a siren on Route 32 (Mohegan Avenue), adjacent to the college.)

The sirens have the ability to emit several different tones. Each tone serves a different emergency function:

  • A steady tone for three minutes (that may be repeated) signals a natural or commercial disaster such as severe weather, chemical spills, floods, or a nuclear plant emergency.
  • A long wavering tone signals an enemy attack.
  • A short wavering tone signals a fire.

A public address loudspeaker can transmit announcements over a limited distance from the community’s emergency operations center. Remember, if you hear a steady siren tone for three minutes or more, tune in to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on radio or television. EAS stations are listed in Table 6-1 below.

What Should You Do In A Nuclear Power Plant Emergency

  • If you hear a steady siren tone for 3 minutes or more, turn on your radio or television and tune in to a local Emergency Alert System (EAS) station for information.
  • Stay calm, and remember that a nuclear power plant emergency would most likely take hours to develop into a situation that could affect public health and safety.
  • State and local officials are required to notify the public within 15 minutes of an event that may require the public taking protective actions. Campus constituencies will be kept informed by the administration, of local and State directives as long as the emergency is in effect.

The sirens are NOT signals to evacuate; they are intended to alert you to tune in to an EAS station for more information or instructions. Follow all instructions given by the EAS messages. You may be instructed to:

  • Just remain alert and ready to respond, if necessary (the College may not be directly affected by the emergency).
  • Stay indoors and take shelter (See Shelter-in-Place above.).
  • Evacuate to a host community reception center that is at least 15 miles from the nuclear plant. (Connecticut College’s host community center is at Windham High School, in Windham, CT. (See “Campus Evacuation” procedures, above.)
  • Do not use the telephone unless it is absolutely necessary. Telephone lines are needed by local officials to respond to the emergency. Do not call local authorities unless you need special assistance.

Potassium iodide (KI) tablets

Potassium iodide, also known by its chemical name KI, is distributed to faculty, staff and students of Connecticut College. New employees of Connecticut College receive their KI tablet during employee orientation from the Manager of Wellness & Occupational Health. The Director of Student Health Services maintains a supply of tables to be issued to students in the event of a radiological emergency. The Manager of Wellness & Occupational Health stocks extra tablets for members of the College community who may need them. The State of Connecticut has issued tablets to members of the public living within the 10 mile EPZ.

Keep in mind that KI alone does not protect from radiation exposure. KI is meant to supplement evacuation or sheltering.

Potassium Iodide (KI) is a stable form of iodine. KI is an over-the-counter drug that protects the human thyroid gland from possible radiation injury caused by radioactive iodine (radioiodine).

Radioiodine is one possible radioactive element that may be released during an operating nuclear power plant emergency.

Taking KI saturates the human thyroid gland with stable non-radioactive iodine. It is used to provide enough beneficial iodine to the thyroid to prevent or reduce the amount of radioiodine that can be absorbed by the thyroid in the event the individual is exposed to the radioactive form of iodine. KI provides protection to the thyroid for 24 hours. Evacuation from the affected area no longer puts you at risk of exposure to the radioactive iodine, therefore another dose of KI is not necessary.

KI should only be taken as directed by State officials. If a release of radioactive iodine has occurred or is expected to occur, the public will be advised to take a KI tablet through the EAS radio and TV stations. The use of KI is only advised in emergencies where the public is likely to be exposed to radioiodine from a nuclear power plant release. Not every radiation emergency will result in the release of radioactive iodine. Emergency dosage guidance adopted by the State of Connecticut will be provided when KI is distributed. At Connecticut College, instructions regarding when to take a KI pill will be issued via the ConnectEd system.

KI should not be ingested if an individual has a known allergy to iodine. As with any medication individuals should consult their doctors if they have any concerns. It should be noted that KI will not be distributed within the EPZ during any type of nuclear incident or emergency. However, host communities have been provided a separate KI stockpile to be able to provide KI to evacuees that did not have access to their own tablets before they left home.