Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Resources


Don’t plan beyond the time frame of the first 4-6 hours. After that the event has assumed its own identity and has a life of its own.

The interactions of individuals and agencies are very much a function of mutual respect and confidence prevailing at the time, and as such transcends planning.

The judgments of responsible officials depends on training and experience not on glossy, four color plans.

Before you start something, you had better have a criterion, so you have a recognized point for stopping it.

It is unwise to depend on offsite measurements for forming decisions for protective actions.

Guard against individuals and agencies who are not party to your plan, interfering in it.

Protect your information flow pattern described in the plan.

Have several confidential phone lines in place. Change the numbers after each crisis.

Get about twice as much communications capability as you think you’ll need, and use it regularly.

When attempting to make field estimates of airborne iodines, use silver zeolite. Noble gases love to adsorb on charcoal. Noble gases will also screw up your background.

Noble gases are gases and will obey gas laws. They diffuse nicely. Staying indoors when nobles are at fault doesn’t buy crap if the plume is near the ground.

Radon measurement is a growth industry. Radon is an ubiquitous as nematodes. Seek and ye shall find.

ARAC capabilities are better than I thought.

Before you sample anything, decide precisely what it is you want the data to tell you.

Don’t throw everything you have at it in the beginning. People do get weary. These events last a long time.

Carry a tape recorder and talk to it regularly.

Isolate your decision makers from the press, from the miscellaneous phone call during the peak crisis.

Beware of your own over reaction.

People who ought to know better will cavalierly slip exponent sign, substitute micro for pico, and confuse minutes with seconds. Check funny numbers.

While the acute episode is in progress, abandon the reading of newspapers, watching the tube, listening to radio. These activities will only make you wierd.

Keep on hand a supply of antacids, and analgesics. We have a jar of Rolaids labeled – TMI Mints.

Plan for delivery of food and for other niceties like sleeping facilities. You may not go home for a while.

Plan for alternate analytic capabilities. It doesn’t take much of an accident to make your background go to pot.

Events do not fulminate as many had believed. They develop at a rate sufficient to catch the attention of those who will ignore your plan and muddy the water.

More energy will be expended in heading off asinine decisions than in dealing with the real problem.

Many people in high places are surrounded by clones.

Emergencies cannot be managed from Bethesda, only screwed up.

Emergency management cannot be effected by a group in Bethesda who otherwise cannot agree on anything.

Protective action recommendations are not amenable to committee vote.

When something big happens there are many who think “This is the chance of a lifetime. I may never again have the opportunity to affect the outcome. How can I screw it up.” It is, they won’t, and they do in many ways.

Everybody is an expert in reactor emergency management, and they aren’t afraid to step forward.

Get your PIO in on the caper early. Update frequently.

Don’t be afraid to put nonessential calls on hold or to hang up on the nitwit.

The federal response by RAP teams and tech grunts was great. Too bad that can’t be said about appointed officials and GS-95’s in Bethesda.

Has any of you ever seen a Fed emergency plan for fixed facilities?

The national media people in general are an unmitigated pain in the butt. The local radio guys are great.

Many elected and appointed officials are unacquainted with their duties, resources, responsibilities, and powers. It always was and always will be, and will always remain the same.

From the perils of a new administration, deliver us, O Lord.

Elected officials and the media are gluttons for information, whether they know what it means or not. They will eat up your patience and stamina and time if you let them.

Many elected officials eventually turn out to be more perceptive than you originally thought.

Be glad that the USA is monolingual.

When all else fails, consider intimidation.

Keep a sense of humor.

Margaret Reilly
PA DER – Bureau of Radiation Protection
May, 1979

Re-typed: 6-3-2014