Emergency Preparedness

Warning sirens, the Emergency Alert System, and NOAA weather alerting radios will be activated by local emergency management officials to inform the public of any type of an emergency including an emergency at the Pantex Plant, severe weather, or chemical spills.

When warning sirens sound, you are warned by local law enforcement personnel, alerted by radio reports, or information is displayed on your TV set, turn on your radio and tune to one of the local EAS stations for official news and instructions. Official information may also be transmitted on local TV stations and cable systems.

Follow the instructions of local elected officials or emergency management officials that will be broadcast on weather radio, radio, or TV stations.

  • Keep your radio on throughout the duration of any incident to ensure that you receive updated information and instructions from emergency management officials.
  • Minimize routine telephone usage during an emergency. Do not call 911 for information about the incident -- listen to the radio or TV. The telephone system will be needed by local governments and emergency service units responding to the emergency; unnecessary use could delay calls relating to emergency response.

Emergency Classifications

There are four classifications of Operational Emergencies at the Pantex Plant. An Operational Emergency is a major unplanned or abnormal incident or condition that involves or affects DOE facilities and activities by causing or having the potential to cause serious health and safety or environmental impacts and requires additional resources to supplement the planned initial response offsite. Local emergency management officials and the news media may use these terms in discussing an emergency at the Pantex Plant.

IT IS VERY UNLIKELY YOU WILL HAVE TO DO ANYTHING. An Operational Emergency, Not Further Classified is issued when there is a minor occurrence at the plant that should not affect areas outside the plant boundary. Federal, State, and local officials will be notified of the Operational Emergency and provided with appropriate incident conditions and developments.

IT IS UNLIKELY YOU WILL HAVE TO DO ANYTHING. An Alert is issued when there is a minor problem at the plant that should not affect areas outside the plant boundary. Federal, State, and local officials will be notified of the alert and provided with appropriate event conditions and developments.

YOU MAY HAVE TO TAKE ACTION. A Site Area Emergency is declared when there is a more serious problem at the plant that may require protective actions for persons at the plant. Offsite emergency response personnel and equipment may be mobilized for immediate dispatch. Offsite authorities would be informed of plant response and event developments. Turn on your radio to station KGNC-AM (710) or KGNC-FM (97.9) for more information. Local emergency management officials will tell you what actions to perform, if any, in response to the incident.

SOME LOCAL RESIDENTS WILL LIKELY NEED TO TAKE ACTION. A General Emergency is declared when a very serious problem exists at the plant that may require protection of the public in affected areas. The warning sirens, the EAS, and other warning systems will be activated to provide residents with as much time as possible to initiate protective actions. Turn on your radio to station KGNC-AM (710) or KGNC-FM (97.9) for more information. The emergency management official will tell you what to actions to perform in response to the incident.

Preparation and Sheltering

There is little danger of a serious emergency at the Pantex Plant, but just in case, you should be prepared to initiate appropriate protective actions. This section provides important information that you and your family need to know in the event of a Pantex emergency. Be sure that you and your family understand the information in this section. Talk it over with your family, friends, and neighbors. In the event of an actual emergency, they may need your help or you may need theirs.

If there is an emergency and you live within Pantex’s 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone, you may hear warning sirens, be alerted by law enforcement personnel, or receive a warning on your weather radio, radio, or television. Local officials are responsible for turning on the warning sirens and issuing warnings through the EAS and other means. Warning Sirens cover most areas of the City of Amarillo and the Pantex Plant. When activated, the warning sirens will sound for approximately three to five (3-5) minutes with a steady tone. This is your signal to turn on your radio and tune it to one of the EAS stations, KGNC-AM (710) or KGNC-FM (97.9), for instructions. The warning sirens will be repeated frequently in the initial stages of any emergency that poses a possible hazard to local residents.

If You Are Advised To Shelter-In-Place

To protect yourself, you need to avoid physical contact with radioactive materials and avoid inhaling them:

Stay indoors in your home, work place, or a nearby building. Once inside, do not leave unless you are told it is safe to go out or you are advised by your emergency management officials or law enforcement personnel to evacuate.

  • Close all windows, doors, and fireplace dampers. This reduces the outside air that enters your home or work place.
  • Turn off any heating or cooling system that draws in air from the outside. If it becomes stuffy, use portable or ceiling fans to circulate the air inside.
  • If you have been outside during the period just before you were warned to take shelter, take a shower or at least wash your face and hands with a washcloth using soap and tepid water. Change into clean clothes; put the clothing you were wearing and the washcloth into a plastic bag.
  • Keep your radio on and tuned to one of the local EAS stations- KGNC-AM (710) or KGNC-FM (97.9). Listen for information and instructions.
  • Begin to assemble items you may need in case you are advised to evacuate.
  • If you must go outdoors, cover your nose and mouth with a damp cloth to avoid inhaling any radioactive materials that might be present.

What to Do If You Are Advised To Evacuate

Evacuation Will Be By Response Sectors
Local officials may advise those who live or work in specific emergency response sectors to evacuate. You should take a minute now to determine the response sector in which your home and/or work place is located (see the Pantex Plant Emergency Planning Zone Sector Map). Remember, do not evacuate unless local officials advise that people in your response sector should do so.

Emergency Planning Zone Map

Click on image for larger version

What to Take With You
You may have to be away from home for a few days. If possible, take along the following items:

  • Extra clothing and shoes
  • Spare pair of eyeglasses and important medicines
  • Sleeping bag (or two blankets) and a pillow for each person
  • Proper identification
  • Checkbook, credit cards, and cash
  • Portable radio and flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Special supplies for infants and elderly family members
  • A list of family physicians and other important numbers
  • Your address book or a list of phone numbers for relatives and friends.

What Else To Do

  • Turn off your lights. Leave your refrigerator and freezer on.
  • If you plan to take your pets, bring a leash or carrier for them. Otherwise, leave animals with access to food and water.
  • Lock windows and doors. Leave your home or work center as you would if you were going on a short trip.
  • Do not worry about your home while you are away. Roadblocks will be established to keep people out of areas that have been evacuated.

Where to Go
EAS broadcasts will advise you to go directly to the Reception Center located at the Tri-State Fairgrounds at Grand Avenue and East 3rd Avenue in Amarillo. If there are changes to the suggested evacuation routes, the changes will be announced in EAS broadcasts.

Evacuation Routes Map

While Traveling to the Reception Center

Keep you car's vents and windows closed and the heater/air conditioner off while driving. If you must use your car's air conditioner, set it so that it does not pull in outside air-- check your owner's manual.

The Reception Center
The Reception Center is at the Tri-State Fairground at Grand Avenue and East 3rd Avenue in Amarillo.

Upon Arrival
When you arrive at the Reception Center, you and your car will be checked for possible contamination, and you will be asked to fill out a registration form.

Prohibited Items
Firearms and alcohol are not allowed in the Reception Center.

Pets should be kept on a leash or in a carrier or cage. They may not be allowed inside the Reception Center itself.

After Processing
After being checked and registered, you may be directed to a hotel or motel, to a public shelter, or to the home of a friend or relative who lives outside the area affected by the emergency.

The Reception Center will maintain a locator file of all persons who have been registered to aid relatives and friends in locating people who have evacuated their homes.

School Children
Special care will be taken to protect school children. If an evacuation is recommended during school hours, there is a plan for school children within the EPZ.


There are several schools in the Potter County emergency response sectors of the EPZ including Highland Park Schools, Amarillo College’s East Campus and the Amarillo Montessori Day School.

  • If local officials recommend that people in the Potter County emergency response sectors shelter-in-place, schools in affected sectors will shelter students at the school under adult supervision until it becomes safe to return them to their homes, have parents pick them up, or in the case of Amarillo College, allow students to drive home. Do not come to the school to pick up students until you are told it is safe to do so.
  • If local officials recommend that people in the Potter County emergency response sectors evacuate, schools in this sector will evacuate students to the Reception Center in Amarillo by bus. They will remain at the Reception Center under adult supervision until picked up by their parents. Do not attempt to pick up students at school.
  • If evacuation is recommended for the Potter County emergency response sectors, Amarillo College students will be transported to the Reception Center by bus or be directed to drive to the Reception Center in their personal vehicles. After being checked at the Reception Center, they can proceed home (unless their home is in an area that as been evacuated), or they will be cared for until they can return home.


  • There are no schools in the Carson or Armstrong County portions of the Pantex Emergency Planning Zone; all schools are outside the Emergency Planning Zone.
  • Schools will not return students to homes in emergency response sectors where local officials have recommended that residents shelter-in-place or evacuate the area. Those students will remain at their schools under adult supervision until parents can pick them up.
  • Parents who live in sectors where sheltering-in-place is recommended should remain in their homes until local officials announce it is safe to leave and pick up children at their schools.
  • Parents who live in sectors where evacuation is recommended should go to the reception center first to be checked for possible contamination and registered. The Reception Center will give you directions for a safe travel route to pick up your children at school.


Ranchers and farmers may be advised to shelter livestock as a precautionary measure. If you are advised to shelter livestock, get stock into a building, if possible. If you can't do this, place them in a small pen to restrict open grazing. Provide stored feed, and water them from groundwater supplies, such as wells, instead of open ponds.