Hazards and Threats

Radiological Emergency Information for Farmers

Nuclear Power in Alabama

In the event of a nuclear facility accident, local, state and federal emergency management, along with agricultural and health officials will determine the protective actions you should take.

Alabama County Map and Nuclear Facilities


Ingestion Pathway Zone (IPZ)

The area within a 50-mile radius of a nuclear facility (IPZ) is where people and animals can become indirectly exposed to radiation from inhaling radioactive particles or by consuming contaminated milk, fruits and vegetables, water, and other food products.

A nuclear reactor plant accident will lead to actions that focus on reducing contamination and preventing consumption of adulterated food, milk and water.

Energy in motion

All things are made up of atoms, which, in turn, are made up of smaller units called protons, electrons, and neutrons. Atoms break apart continuously, releasing energy—radiation. Ionizing radiation occurs when charged particles, called ions, are produced. Examples of ionizing radiation are alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, and x-rays.

Background radiation is what we are exposed to from the air, soil, water, rocks, and manufactured consumer products, including food, watches, televisions, medical procedures, and building materials. These sources account for more than half of the exposure we receive.

Scientists have studied the potential effects of radiation on humans and have developed standardized guidelines for safe exposure levels, measured in millirems (mrems) and/or sieverts and milliseiverts. Our normal average yearly doses of background radiation levels (more than 600 mrems) cause us no harm.

Protect crops and food

Rolled hay bales in fieldThere is little you can do in advance of an incident, but most farm land that is contaminated by a radiological incident can be used again for agricultural purposes. Pasture and forage plants usually retain very little of radioactive material deposited on them. Contamination levels depend on the amount and types of the radioactive materials, the nature of the soil and ground cover, foliage characteristics, and weather conditions.

Contamination just before or during harvest time requires washing or peeling of fresh fruits and most vegetables before they are consumed. Contamination of field crops at harvest time can be minimized through storage. Allow standing crops to grow to maturity. The amount of radiation that could occur would most likely not be strong enough to damage their growth and safety. Most contamination will be washed off or drop to safe levels during the growth process.

5 Things That You Can Do Now

  1. Plan how you would shelter livestock and backyard poultry. Give priority to milk-producing animals.

  2. Determine ways to modify animal and poultry housing ventilation systems to reduce exposure.

  3. Determine how you could quickly obtain protected feed and water for your farm animals.

  4. Consider maintaining protected supplies of forage, feed, and water that you rotate frequently.

  5. Plan how you could quickly cover outside feed and water supplies.

This content is available as a downloadable brochure (PDF file)