Radiological Planning and Animal Agriculture

Guest blogger Curt Emanuel is County Extension Director in Boone County, Indiana. He is also an EDEN delegate representing Purdue University.

angus cross beef steers feed on grass on a ranch in northeastern Texas

Are you a livestock owner located within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant? Is there a site nearby where radiological materials are stored or manufactured? Is your farm near a highway or railway over which nuclear materials are transported? Are you near a nuclear waste storage facility, nuclear weapons complex, or shipyard where nuclear-powered vessels are docked or serviced? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then planning for a radiological incident should be part of your farm’s emergency plan.

Many people, on hearing the word, radiation, have visions of a nuclear holocaust. However, a radiological incident from a domestic source will most likely be a low level release involving contaminated airborne particles. The landscape will not begin to glow, your hair will not begin to fall out, and you won’t suffer immediate radiation sickness. But this does not mean this type of release poses no hazard. You should still protect yourself and your family and, if you own livestock, you should protect your animals.

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (U.S. NRC) is the lead agency for planning for a radiological emergency. In cooperation with other agencies, the U.S. NRC has developed a series of steps, known as protective actions, which livestock owners may be instructed to take in case of an incident. Knowing what these steps are and making sure you are able to perform them is the key to developing your emergency plan.

How to Protect Your Livestock

Protective actions for livestock are designed to keep the animals from getting radioactive materials in them, through inhalation or ingestion, or on them. If a radiological incident occurs you may be instructed to:

  • Bring your animals in to shelter
  • Only feed and water animals from protected sources
  • Restrict grazing on pasture
  • Reduce the ventilation in your livestock barns to prevent radioactive particles from entering buildings
  • Cover any unprotected feed and water sources

There are many resources available to help you develop your plan. States with a nuclear power plant have instructions on what to do in a radiological event, including information specifically for owners of livestock. Even states without a nuclear power plant have plans to address radiological emergencies. Check with your state Emergency Management Agency, Health Department, or Department of Agriculture.

Among other things, your plan should insure that you have enough protected feed and water for seven days. You should have tarps or six mil (minimum) thickness plastic to cover unprotected feed, such as hay stored outside, and water sources and water troughs. You should know how you will quickly move your animals to shelter and how low you can safely adjust the ventilation of confinement buildings.

Most importantly, you should be aware of how you can listen to emergency messages. Remember that you should never put you or your family at risk to protect an animal.

And always listen to and
follow
all emergency messages!

Free Webinar on this Topic

Curt and Dr. Julie Smith recently conducted a webinar on radiological events and animal agriculture. Watch the recording for additional tips on preparing for such an emergency.

Watch this Webinar

Preparedness Begins at Home

2016-05-12
Meteorological Spring began March 1st and with it comes a heightened emphasis on severe weather safety and preparation. 2016 has seen an increased number of tornadoes and other severe weather events over the past few years. Is that a predictor of spring weather? One answer is…it only takes one.

It only takes one tornado or severe storm to change lives forever. It only takes one to cause millions of dollars of damage. It only takes one to impact the economy of a community. It only takes one to destroy infrastructure, schools, churches, parks, public buildings, etc.

Photo by Author
Photo by Rick Atterberry

As we remind ourselves of safety precautions, we recognize that being prepared can impact survivability reducing deaths and injuries. Damage to property can be mitigated by employing proper construction techniques.

Many states observe Severe Weather Preparedness Weeks in the spring. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Weather Ready Nation efforts consolidate information on best practices.

Beyond that information, now is a good time to review threats that are specific to a given location. Is the area prone to flooding, especially flash floods? Are outdoor sports venues equipped with lightning detectors? Are evacuation and sheltering policies in place?

FEMA
FEMA

Another important piece of information is local protocols for operation of outdoor warning sirens. In general, these sirens are NOT necessarily intended to be heard inside homes and businesses. Some communities sound an all clear. In others, a second activation of the sirens means the threat is continuing for an additional period of time. Some locations employ sirens for flash flooding, nuclear power plant issues, tsunamis and other threats. Be aware of local policies. Always have an alternate way of receiving severe weather information…the All-Hazards Weather Radio System, warning apps, web-based warning systems.

Personal preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. Review shelter areas at home and at work. Create appropriate “Go Kits” for each location plus vehicles. Devise a communications plan to aid in reunification of families and co-workers. Be aware of those in the neighborhood or workplace with special needs who may need your assistance. And, always, be extra vigilant when severe weather is a possibility. A community can only be as prepared as its residents.

Being Prepared is Part of Who You Are

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Preparedness Begins at Home

NEW Free Guides for Restoring Disaster Damaged Homes

Post by Claudette Hanks Reichel, Ed.D., LSU AgCenter Professor, Extension Housing Specialist and Director, LaHouse Resource Center
www.lsuagcenter.com/LaHouse  |  creichel@agcenter.lsu.edu  |  (225) 578-2378

healthy homes

With the spreading floods and other disasters, I want to alert EDENites to a set of new, free educational materials from HUD for dealing with damaged homes. These differ from many other materials I’ve seen in that the core thread is “health”, both during and after recovery.

When homes are damaged, disaster survivors face the daunting and dangerous task of clean-up and repairs – often with little or no professional help. All are eager to restore their homes and lives quickly, yet many are not aware of all the hazards that can be worsened by the process.

To alleviate that, various educational resources were recently developed through the U.S. Dept. of HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes working with Cooperative Extension Service and others. They’re now available from www.hud.gov/healthyhomes web site’s Post Disaster Recovery and Resources link under Popular Topics.

The flagship “how-to” guide is Rebuild Healthy Homes: Guide to Post-disaster Restoration for a Safe and Healthy HomeIt’s a detailed, highly-illustrated reference to help homeowners, volunteers and other workers safely restore homes damaged by any type of natural disaster – from floods and storms, to wildfire and earthquakes – to end up with more than just a livable home, but to protect the future wellbeing of their families.

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Content includes the Top 10 Tips; personal protective gear; assessing structural and health hazards; work preparation; best practices for clean-out, gutting, decontamination and repair; ways to “restore for more than before” with resilient, energy-saving and healthy home improvements; and, other resources. Content conforms to new federal interagency recommendations for dealing with mold, lead, asbestos and radon after disasters.

This 72-page guidebook was extensively reviewed and refined by disaster survivors and stakeholders from across the nation, including Extension housing specialists; I was primary author. It’s available as a free online pdf file that can be printed in whole or part, as well as a free mobile app for both iPhone and Android devices (search Rebuild Healthy Homes in the app stores).

Other Disaster Resources

Don’t forget about the app!

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