Nuclear Emergency
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Nuclear Emergency - San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS)

What is Radiation?
Everything on earth is made of tiny particles called atoms. Some atoms in our environment naturally give off energy in the form of waves or particles. This energy is called radiation. You cannot hear, see, feel, taste or smell radiation. We receive small amounts of radiation every day from natural and manmade sources such as the air, the sun, minerals in the earth, the food we eat, the building materials in your house, x-rays used by dentists and doctors and our television sets. Even our bodies give off small amounts of radiation. The amount of radiation that a person gets is measured in millirems. The average U.S. citizen receives about 360 millirems per year from these types of natural and manmade sources. Information from detailed monitoring shows that nuclear power plants expose the public to less than one millirem per year.

Emergency Planning Zone
The area within 10 miles of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) is known as the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ). The City of San Clemente, in conjunction with other local jurisdictions, SONGS, the County of Orange, County of San Diego and State of California have developed detailed plans for your safety in the unlikely event of an emergency at SONGS.

How Will I be Notified if There is an Emergency?
You will be notified of an emergency by community alert sirens, roving public address systems, and/or emergency phone calls. The sirens are a signal for you to turn your radio or television to a local Emergency Alert System (EAS) station for important information from local officials. Please do not call 911 if you hear the sirens, unless you have a life-threatening emergency. The following radio stations will broadcast emergency information:

  • KWVE FM 107.9 - Santa Ana
  • KOGO AM 600 - San Diego

  • For more information about the Community Alert Siren System, Click Here.

    What will I be asked to do?
    The EAS messages and news broadcasts will tell you more about the situation, and may ask you to evacuate or to Shelter-in-Place.

    Evacuation: If you are directed to evacuate, please stay calm. Get in your car and drive away from the plant to a location outside of the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ). Be sure to follow the directions of local law enforcement officers, as traffic patterns will change. If you know someone in your neighborhood who is without transportation, please give them a ride. Those without a ride can go to a public Transportation Assembly Point. If you are directed to evacuate while your children are at public school, do not attempt to pick them up. Children in the public schools will be pre-evacuated by Capistrano Unified School District to a location outside of the EPZ.

    A Reception Center at the Orange County Fairgrounds will be opened for persons coming from Southern Orange County, if necessary during an emergency. (U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and San Diego County will open their own, separate Reception Centers.)

    Shelter: Sheltering in Place is the process of staying where you and taking special precautions. If asked to take shelter, stay indoors, close off all ventilation, windows and doors, turn off air conditioners and close fireplace dampers. Listen to news reports to determine when it is safe to leave your shelter and evacuate the area.

    What is a Reception Center?
    A reception center is a meeting place for evacuees to check in and register, get assistance from the American Red Cross, and reunite with family members. The Orange County Reception Center is located at the Orange County Fairgrounds at 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. At the Reception Center, evacuees will be provided with a place to sleep, meals and medical attention, if needed. Government health and fire department personnel will be available to monitor evacuees for exposure to radiological contamination.

    What Should I Take With Me?
    You should take necessary items for three days including prescribed medication, a small amount of cash, credit cards, toiletries, baby supplies and bedding.

    What is Potassium Iodide?
    Potassium iodide, or KI, is a chemical compound that contains iodine and can protect the thyroid gland from exposure to radioactive iodine. KI is only effective against exposure to radioactive iodine and only protects the thyroid gland. It does not protect against other types of radioactivity that might be released during a nuclear emergency. Radioactive iodine is a fission product produced within the fuel of an operating reactor. Unit 2 was defueled in July 2013 and Unit 3 was defueled in September 2012 so no fission has occurred in more than a year. Since fission has not occurred in more than a year and the plant is now decommissioning, potassium iodide (KI) distribution is no longer necessary as a supplemental protective action.

    What do I do if I need special assistance?
    You may need special help if you have a physical or mental disability or medical condition preventing mobility; are elderly or need life support systems. You can get assistance by registering with Orange County by calling (714) 828-7055 and request a special assistance card. (The card is addressed and postage has been paid for your convenience.)

    For more information about SONGS, please visit


  • Ever-Ready Newsletter - 2011 (PDF)
  • Ever-Ready Newsletter - 2011 (Spanish) (PDF)
  • Ever-Ready Newsletter - 2010 (PDF)
  • Ever-Ready Newsletter - 2010 (Spanish) (PDF)
  • Ever-Ready Newsletter - 2009 (PDF)
  • Ever-Ready Newsletter - 2009 (Spanish) (PDF)
  • AT&T White Pages Emergency Information (PDF)

  • To Return to Emergency Planning Main Page Click Here

    For more information contact:
    Katie Carpenter, Emergency Planning Coordinator, (949) 361-6109

    City of San Clemente
    City Hall | 100 Avenida Presidio, San Clemente, CA 92672 | Phone (949) 361-8200  |  FAX (949) 361-8285
    Community Development | 910 Calle Negocio, Suite 100, San Clemente, CA, 92673 | Phone (949) 361-6100  |  FAX (949) 361-8281
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