Fire and EMS

Oconee Nuclear Station

The Clemson University Campus is located within the 10-mile emergency planning zone of Oconee Nuclear Station and is therefore included in the emergency plans developed by state and local officials and Duke Energy. University officials and Pickens County Emergency Management have developed an effective and expedient method to evacuate the students, faculty and staff should an incident occur that would require campus evacuation.

If you have questions, contact Clemson University Fire/EMS/Emergency Preparedness office at (864) 656-2242.

Nuclear Station Emergency Classification

There are four classifications used to describe a nuclear station emergency. Duke Energy would contact federal, state and local authorities in each of the following situations:

  1. An Unusual Event is the least serious of the four classifications. It means that a minor event - either operational or security - has occurred at the station. There is no danger to the public.
  2. An Alert is an event -either operational or security based - has occurred that could reduce the station's level of safety. There would still be no danger to the public.
  3. A Site Area Emergency is an event that could involve major problems with station systems. State and county officials would activate the sirens and request the public to listen to local radio and TV for information and instructions.
  4. A General Emergency is the most serious of the four classifications. State and county officials would take action to protect the public. Sirens would be activated and the emergency alert radio stations would give information and instructions developed by emergency management officials. People would be told to evacuate or to shelter in place. They may also be told to take a potassium iodide (KI) tablet.

Radiation - A Fact of Life

Radiation is a natural part of our environment. It is not new or mysterious. We receive radiation from the sun, from minerals in the earth, the food we eat, and building materials in our houses. Even our bodies give off small amounts of radiation.

Exposure to extremely large amounts of radiation can be harmful, even fatal. However, the amount of radiation given off in the normal operation of a nuclear plant is very small; smaller, in fact, than the amount we would receive on a coast-to-coast airplane trip. Small amounts of radiation are referred to as low-level radiation. Although radiation is invisible, it can be measured. Radiation is measured in units called rems and millirems. A rem is a unit of measure that takes into account the effect that different types of radiation have on the body. A millirem is 1/1000th of a rem. Some familiar sources of low-level radiation are shown below:

Low-level Radiation Resources Measured in
millirems (mr)
Average annual SC background 360
Gastrointestinal tract x-ray 250
Chest x-ray 10
Nuclear power station-
average per year at site boundary
less than 1

Notification Plan

Consideration will be made to evacuate Clemson University during an ALERT event if conditions at Oconee Nuclear Station are "degrading". This would be considered a precautionary evacuation.

Should an incident occur at Oconee Nuclear Station, the Clemson University Police Department would receive the initial notification from Pickens County Emergency Operations Center.

Clemson University would alert the students, faculty and staff by using various communications systems. These would include Inside Clemson fax, electronic mail, telephone and personal notifications. The University Police and Fire Departments would use vehicle public address systems to alert the outside areas. Additional notification to residence halls and apartments will be done using Housing Staff.

Faculty and staff should follow emergency directions provided for their respective residences unless directed otherwise by the University.

Potassium Iodide (KI)

Potassium iodide, also know as KI, is a non-prescription drug similar to iodized table salt. KI may prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine and is one protective action that might be recommended during a nuclear emergency. KI is available to EPZ residents at no cost through county health departments. It should only be taken at the direction of public health officials. For more information on KI, contact:

Pickens County Health Department 864-898-5965
SC DHEC 800-476-9677

Evacuation Information

Once notified of an Unusual Event or an Alert at Oconee Nuclear Station, tune in local AM/FM radio stations or television networks (channels ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) for additional information.

In the event of an evacuation, all students who can provide their own transportation should leave the campus and return to their home. Remember to take medications and any other essential personal items you may need for the next few days.

Students who cannot go home would report to Littlejohn Coliseum. Clemson Area Transit buses may be available to transport students who live off campus, and need transportation, to the Coliseum. From there, students would be taken to the T. Ed Garrison Arena, which will serve as a staging area. At the arena, students would either be provided transportation home or provided shelter in motels and/or hotels outside the 10-mile emergency planning zone. University Student Affairs Division personnel and a Duke Energy insurance provider would assist students staged at the Garrison Arena.

Clemson University will arrange transportation.

Since an evacuation could last from a few hours to several days, it is important to consider where you might stay and what things you might need.

When you leave the campus, you should take the following items:

  • Two blankets or one sleeping bag
  • Two changes of clothing
  • Personal/important papers
  • Medication
  • Toiletry articles

In addition, if you are going to a shelter for housing or assistance, you must bring your Clemson University identification card.

Arrangements should be made for pets or other animals.

When you leave, make sure appliances and faucets are turned off and doors and windows are locked.

Information is provided by Duke Energy in cooperation with Pickens County Emergency Management And Clemson University. For more information, go to

Revised 2006