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L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

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Radiation and nuclear emergencies: how to protect yourself

Emergency plans for radioactive accidents in Jersey

Radioactive materials are often used in medicine, industry, agriculture and research. If an accident happened in Jersey, we have agreements where the States of Jersey and our emergency services will get scientific help.

Having NAIR (national arrangements for incidents involving radioactivity) in place means that we will get help from hospitals, defence forces and nuclear sites.

International nuclear events affecting Jersey

By international agreement, Jersey will get an automatic warning if there is a nuclear accident abroad.

As a backup, the Radioactive Incident Monitoring Network (RIMNET) also detects and measures radiation levels around the UK and Europe. RIMNET is run by the UK Environment Agency and monitored in Jersey by the emergency planning officer.

Nuclear event scale

If an event or accident happens at a nuclear site, the public will quickly be told how serious it is, on a scale of one to seven. A level seven on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) is a major accident.

For an event under level five, it's unlikely the public would be told to take action. The levels are:

  • 7: major accident (eg Chernobyl)
  • 6: serious accident 
  • 5: accident with off-site risks (eg Three Mile Island and the Windscale fire)
  • 4: accident mainly in installation 
  • 3: serious incident 
  • 2: incident 
  • 1: anomaly 
  • below scale: no safety significance

How radiation can affect us after an accident

Nuclear accidents affecting Jersey are unlikely, but we must have plans in place to deal with them. If radioactive materials are released in an accident, we can be affected by:

  • breathing them in
  • touching  them in the air or on surfaces
  • eating and drinking contaminated foods and liquids

Reducing the effects of radiation after an accident

If a nuclear event affects Jersey, you should follow the advice given via radio, TV and social media. You may hear some of the advice and information listed below.

Sheltering indoors

Stay inside and close all doors and windows to avoid breathing in and touching radioactive material.


Because we're an island, evacuation is an unlikely option for Jersey during a nuclear event. Evacuation is usually ordered to quickly help protect people from intense and short-term exposure to radioactive materials.

Taking 'stable iodine'

If you're evacuated or advised to shelter after a nuclear event, you may also be told to take stable iodine. Stable iodine works by filling the thyroid gland and leaving no room for radioactive iodine to collect.

Banned foods

Radioactive material which lands on the ground can be absorbed by crops and animals and end up in food products. Due to this contamination, consumption of milk and other foods may be banned.

Checking and monitoring radiation levels

Radioactive materials can be measured in different ways. Levels would be checked by organisations and experts after a nuclear event.​

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