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2021-2022 Emergency Planning Information Summary

Harris Nuclear Plant is dedicated to the safe, reliable and efficient production of electricity. Duke Energy would immediately notify federal, state and local authorities of a problem at the plant. These officials would then notify you if any action were necessary.

Select “Emergency Preparedness Instructions” below for the most up-to-date information about Harris Nuclear Plant.

Emergency Planning Zones

Use the map below to find your emergency planning zone, reception center/evacuation shelter and suggested evacuation route. Evacuation routes and reception centers/evacuation shelters for each zone are listed in the Emergency Preparedness Guide.

What to do in an emergency

If there were an emergency at a nuclear plant, state and county officials would provide information about what actions to take. It is important to stay calm and follow instructions provided by state/county officials. Be prepared to take some of the following actions.

  • Evacuations and sheltering

    Emergency plans are designed to protect you in the unlikely event of a nuclear station emergency. State and local governments have guidelines about when people should be protected from radiation. These guidelines call for protective actions at levels far below those that can make you sick. If radiation levels at or above those guidelines are expected, state and local officials will provide guidance to protect the public.

    If there is an emergency at the nuclear station, state and county officials will provide information to the public via radio and television. You might be told to go inside and stay inside, shelter in place, evacuate and/or take potassium iodide (KI). Shelter in place, evacuating and taking potassium iodide are ways to reduce exposure to radiation. Sometimes staying indoors is safer than evacuating. Emergency officials will know which is better. Follow their instructions.

    Go inside/stay inside

    • Go inside a building (home/office/etc.).
    • Stay indoors until officials tell you it is safe to leave.

    Shelter in place

    • Go inside a building and stay there until you are told it is safe to leave.
    • Close all windows and doors. Turn off fans, air conditioners, heat pumps and forced air heat, which bring in outside air.
    • Go to the basement, if possible. If you don't have a basement, go to a downstairs room in the center of the house. It should be a room without windows or outside doors.
    • Listen to local radio stations for instructions from emergency management officials.
    • Commercial supplies of water, milk and food will be checked for radiation, if necessary. Government officials will tell you if these are safe.

    Evacuate to a reception center/shelter

    • Do not try to take all your belongings with you. You could be away from home for a few hours or a few days.
    • Turn off appliances and faucets. Lock all windows and doors.
    • Service animals (dogs trained to benefit those with disabilities) are welcome and will be accommodated at reception centers.
    • Get into your vehicle and close all windows and vents. Drive to your reception center and register. You can stay at the reception center or, after you register, you may stay with friends or relatives outside the protective action zone(s).
    • It is important to go to the reception center because:
      • If any radioactive material was found on you, it would be removed by changing clothes and washing. This process is called decontamination and is important to reduce radiation dose to yourself and others.
      • Local emergency management officials would need to know who has evacuated. They would also need to know where you are, so you could be contacted
  • Potassium iodide, also known as KI, is a nonprescription drug that may prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine. KI is one protective action that might be recommended during a nuclear emergency. KI is available to Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) residents at no cost through county health departments. It should be taken only at the direction of public health officials. KI should be picked up, before an emergency, by all those living or working in the 10-mile EPZ. KI is most effective if taken before exposure.

    For more information on KI, including distribution locations, contact your county health department:
    Mecklenburg 3-1-1

    Chatham County: 919.545.8391
    Harnett County: 910.893.7550
    Lee County: 919.718.4640
    Wake County: 919.212.7000

    For more online KI information, visit or


  • If you are told to evacuate, it's a good idea to bring the following items to the reception center/shelter:

    • Two changes of clothing
    • Two blankets or a sleeping bag for each person
    • Important personal papers
    • Toiletries such as soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
    • Personal medications and prescriptions
    • Special baby formulas and/or food, and diapers
    • Battery operated radio, flashlight and batteries
    • If you're going to a reception center/shelter for housing or other assistance, if possible bring some form of identification that shows your address.
  • County emergency management offices assist people without transportation or with special needs by notifying them of an emergency and assisting with evacuation if necessary. If you or someone you know needs transportation, is visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically disabled or has special needs, contact your county emergency management office today.

  • Schools in the area around Harris Nuclear plant have emergency plans for school children. In an emergency, school officials would be contacted by county emergency management officials.

    If an evacuation were ordered, all children attending school inside the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) would be relocated to a designated pick-up facility for their school. This may be different from the reception center/shelters listed for the student's home. Parents should pick up students at designated pick-up facilities only. Do not call or go to the schools. This will help avoid delays. All relocation schools/ pick-up facilities are more than 10 miles from the station.

    Your children will be cared for at the facility by school and county officials until you arrive. It is important for parents to know in what zones their children's schools are located. To find out, locate the correct zone on the interactive map for your children's schools. Parents should familiarize themselves with the relocation schools/centers for their children's schools.

    If your children are ever left home alone, make sure they know what to do in an emergency. Children should know their zone and be familiar with your family's emergency plan.

  • If instructed in an emergency, you should be prepared to take the following actions:

    • Monitor and follow instructions given over the emergency alert system. Specific recommendations for the protection of farm animals and agricultural products will be issued by appropriate state and county officials.
    • Crops and animals raised as food for people or animals should be protected when possible.
    • Remove all dairy animals from pasture, shelter if possible, and provide them with stored feed and protected water. Protected self-feeders and automatic livestock waterers are best.
    • Store feed in buildings or cover if outdoors. Feed stored in buildings will be protected from contamination. Cover the feed with plastic or canvas.
    • Cover open wells and water tanks.

    The state of North Carolina has published special brochures concerning livestock, crops and gardens. Residents may request a copy by contacting their county cooperative extension agent.

  • The best way to protect pets from exposure to radiation is to bring them inside as soon as possible. If evacuating, take your pets and pet care items with you. Check with your county emergency management office to determine what measures may or may not be available at your assigned reception center/evacuation shelter. Service animals (those trained to benefit people with disabilities) are welcome and will be accommodated at all evacuation shelters. Do not give pets potassium iodide unless prescribed by a veterinarian, since KI may be toxic/poisonous to animals. For questions about animal health, always consult your veterinarian.

    More information can be found at the following websites:

  • There are four classifications used to describe nuclear emergencies. We contact federal, state and local authorities in each of the follow situations.

    Unusual Event: This is the least serious of the four classifications. It means there is a minor operational or security problem at the plant. There is no impact to the public: No public action is needed.

    Alert: This is the second classification in increasing significance and involves an operational/security event that may affect plant safety. There is no impact to the public. Emergency officials would prepare emergency centers for use if needed.

    Site Area Emergency: This is the third in increasing significance and involves a major operational/security event that could affect plant safety. Sirens may sound to alert the public to listen to local radio/television stations for information. Radioactivity levels outside of the plant should not exceed federal guidelines.

    General Emergency: This is the most serious of the four classifications and involves a serious operational event. Sirens may sound and state and local authorities would take action to protect the public. Local radio/television stations would give information and instructions. People in affected areas would be advised to stay indoors or evacuate.


About Nuclear Power and Radiation

Learn more about radiation and how nuclear plants make electricity.

  • Just like plants that burn coal and natural gas, nuclear plants produce electricity by boiling water to create steam, which turns a turbine to produce electricity. The difference is that nuclear plants create the heat needed to boil water through a process known as fission. Fission is the physical process of splitting an atom.

    The uranium in a nuclear reactor is contained in small, hard ceramic pellets placed in long, vertical tubes (fuel rods), which are bundled together to create fuel assemblies. There are numerous fuel assemblies in a nuclear reactor.

  • Radiation isn’t new or mysterious – it’s a natural part of our environment. It’s found in sunlight, minerals and even in the food we eat. However, extremely large amounts of radiation can be harmful, even fatal. Fortunately the radiation given off in the normal operation of a nuclear power plant is very small; smaller, in fact, than the amount you’d receive during a coast-to-coast airplane flight.

    Radiation is measured in units called “rems” and “millirems.” A rem is a unit of measurement that takes into account the effect different types of radiation have on your body. Here are some common sources of radiation and their dosage.

    Amounts of Radiation from Common Sources 


    Average annual radiation exposure from ALL sources 


    Natural background radiation 


    Medical procedures 


    Consumer products (air travel, smoking, building materials, etc.) 


    Remainder (including living near a nuclear power station) 

    Less than 1

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