New Jersey's Nuclear Generating Stations

Emergency Preparedness around the Salem, Hope Creek & Oyster Creek Generating Stations

New Jersey has nuclear generating stations in Salem County (the Salem and Hope Creek Generating Stations) and in Ocean County (the Oyster Creek Generating Station).

The information on these pages will keep your family aware of what to do in the unlikely event of an emergency at one of these stations.

This information is part of a comprehensive safety program designed by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, PSEG Nuclear LLC (the operator of the Salem and Hope Creek Generating Stations), and Exelon Nuclear (the operator of the Oyster Creek Generating Station).

All residents in the areas of New Jersey ’s nuclear generating stations should become familiar with this information and keep it handy, just as you would with medical, police, fire and emergency directions . By understanding this information, you are taking an important step for your family’s safety.

Print and Keep These Booklets:
Every resident within 10 miles of the Salem County and Ocean County nuclear generating plans will soon receive a copy of these “Community Emergency Planning Information” booklets, with detailed information on:

  • How you will know if there is an emergency at the nearby generating station
  • How to prepare for an emergency
  • What to do if you are directed to:
    • Monitor and Prepare
    • Shelter in Place
    • Evacuate
    • Take your Potassium Iodide (KI) Tablets

The booklets include maps of the Evacuation Routes, Bus Evacuation Routes, and Reception Centers that have been designated for the areas around each of New Jersey's nuclear generating stations.

You can download the booklets here, in PDF format:

Additional Information

Background Information:
Those unable to download the booklets can find similar information below for each nuclear generating station.
NJ Nuclear Review Task Force Interim Report on Early Lessons learned from Japan Emergency -

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Unusual Event

A minor problem has taken place. No release of radioactive matter is expected. Federal, state and county officials will be notified. you will not have to do anything.


This is also a minor problem. Small amounts of radioactive matter could be released inside the plant. Officials will be notified and asked to stand by. Probably, you will not have to do anything.

Site Area Emergency

This is a more serious problem. Small amounts of radioactive matter could be released into the area near the plant. Sirens may be sounded, which means state officials have important emergency information available for you. Tune your radio to one of the EAS radio stations listed on the inside front cover.

General Emergency

This is the most serious kind of problem. Radioactive matter could be released outside the plant. You may have to take protective actions. Sirens will be sounded. Tune your radio to one of the EAS radio stations to receive information from state officials.

Ionizing radiation is energy particles given off by unstable atoms as they undergo radioactive decay to stabilize.

The radiation given off by the radioactive materials in commercial nuclear power plants is called ionizing radiation. That means that it causes ion pairs (positively and negatively charged particles) to form in the cells that the radiation encounters.

It is important to understand that ionizing radiation from nuclear power plants is the same as ionizing radiation from other possible sources, such as cosmic radiation, medical treatments and the naturally occurring background radiation from the soil and building materials around us.

Low-level ionizing radiation is measured in units called millirem (1/1000 of a REM). The average exposure to people living in the US is approximately 620 millirem per year, (NCRP Report 160, "Ionizing Radiation Exposure of the Population of the U.S." Most people in the U.S. receive about 250-310 millirem per year from natural background radiation. The sun and stars give off radiation called cosmic radiation and most of us receive about 31 millirem a year from this source. We get another 28 millirem from the naturally occurring radioactive materials in building materials (usually bricks, stone and mortar) and the soil. There is an additional 229 millirem from the air we breathe, largely from radon.

Medical treatments and examinations are another source of radiation exposure for many people and contribute more than 50% of the average person's exposure. The majority of medical exposures are from Computerized Axial Tomography, (CAT Scan) and Nuclear Medicine procedures. A chest X-ray is generally about 10 millirem, while a dental X-ray is usually about 9 millirem.

The average person living within 50 miles of a commercial nuclear power plant will receive about .001 millirem of additional radiation exposure on an annual basis. Even people living within a few miles of a plant rarely get as much as 1 millirem per year.

The State of New Jersey has made Potassium Iodide (KI) available to people within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) for the Oyster Creek Generating Station and the Salem/Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station. If you were unable to attend the public distribution of KI, they may be obtained from the Ocean County Department of Health or the Salem and Cumberland County Department of Health.

KI offers a degree of cancer protection only to the thyroid gland and only in cases when the release contains radioactive iodine. If taken before or shortly after radiological exposure, potassium iodide blocks the thyroid gland’s ability to absorb radioactive iodine. Remember that KI offers protection only to the thyroid gland and its use would be to supplement evacuation and in-place sheltering. Evacuation and in-place sheltering are the primary modes of protection in a radiological emergency. The use of KI by persons in the EPZ is entirely voluntary.

The area within the 10-mile EPZ at both sites is divided into smaller portions known as Emergency Response Planning Areas or ERPA’s. The ERPA’s have easily recognizable boundaries for identification when used with the Emergency Alert System (EAS). You may be instructed to take KI in addition to other Protective Actions via the Emergency Alert System. When necessary KI tablets will also be available for distribution to people evacuated to reception centers.

To Obtain KI in New Jersey Contact

Ocean County
Ocean County Health Department
175 Sunset Avenue
Toms River, NJ 08754

Salem / Cumberland County
Salem/Cumberland Health Department
98 Market Street
Salem, New Jersey 08079-7510

You may also visit the NJ Department of Health website for more information on Potassium Iodide distribution.

Nuclear fission (splitting) occurs when the nucleus of an atom of U235 Uranium is bombarded with neutrons from another source. The nucleus splits into two smaller fragments and at the same time releases additional neutrons. Some of these additional neutrons will split other U235 nuclei which in turn will release still more neutrons. This continuous splitting is a chain reaction. One product of a chain reaction is heat produced by the fragments being scattered at high speed.

The chain reaction takes place inside a containment vessel called a reactor. Control rods, made of a material that absorbs neutrons like a blotter, can stop the chain reaction instantly when inserted into the reactor fuel core.

In the generation of electricity, the only function of the nuclear reactor is to supply the heat necessary to convert water into steam. Once the steam is produced, the balance of the generating process is exactly the same as that in a fossil fueled generating plant.

Salem and Hope Creek Generating Stations PSEG Nuclear’s generating stations are located in the southern region of New Jersey on a man-made peninsula in the Delaware River. The plant includes a 740-acre site surrounded by wetlands and a variety of wildlife indigenous to the region. The complex consists of three generating stations (Salem 1, Salem 2 and Hope Creek) and is capable of producing enough electricity to power about three million homes.

The Pressurized Water Nuclear Reactor:
Salem Nuclear Generating Station

In a pressurized water nuclear reactor, there are three separate and enclosed water loops. Within the first loop, water, under pressure to prevent boiling, flows through the reactor fuel core and is heated by nuclear fission. The heated water passes through the steam generator where it transfers its heat to the water in the second loop and is then pumped back into the reactor to be reheated. The water in the second loop boils into steam and rushes with great force into the turbine where it strikes blades causing an attached shaft to spin. The other end of the shaft spins inside a generator, producing electricity. Within the third loop, cooling water, drawn from an outside source, condenses the steam after its energy is spent. The cooling water is returned to its source while the reconverted water is pumped back to the steam generator.

The Boiling Water Nuclear Reactor:
Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station

In a boiling water nuclear reactor, there are two separate and enclosed water loops. Within the first loop, water flows through the reactor fuel core and heat generated by nuclear fission causes it to boil into steam. The steam rushes with great force through the steam line into a turbine. Once in the turbine, the steam strikes blades attached to a shaft causing it to spin.

The other end of the shaft spins inside a generator, producing electricity. A second water loop, carrying cooling water drawn from an outside source, condenses the steam when its energy is spent in the turbine. After condensation, the reconverted water is pumped back into the reactor vessel to start the heating cycle again while the cooling water is returned to its source.

Pay Close Attention To Weather Forecasts

If a hurricane is possible, pay close attention to weather forecasts on local TV and radio stations and these SOURCES for New Jersey residents.

These forecasts also allow public safety officials to make faster decisions about moving people to safety through evacuations or by providing other instructions.

Listen For Official Instructions

Follow official instructions IMMEDIATELY when they are announced.
Official instructions will be broadcast on local TV and radio stations. You may receive information about your specific location in the following ways:

  • Reverse 9-1-1 or other community notification systems in your area.
  • Public safety officers may announce the orders by driving through neighborhoods with bullhorns.
  • You may also get instructions from local officials via their social media accounts and other digital methods messages that can be sent to your wireless phone. Our Staying Informed web page will provide more information about this.

While You Are Waiting To Receive Official Instructions

If a Hurricane or Tropical Storm is approaching but you have not received official instructions to Shelter-in-Place or Evacuate, take the following steps:

  • Stay inside and away from windows.
  • Keep your flashlights handy in case the power goes out.
  • If power goes out, turn off all major appliances to avoid power surge damage when electricity returns.
  • Be prepared to evacuate immediately if orders are issued for your neighborhood.