REPORT: EMERGENCY AND EVACUATION PLANNING DANGEROUSLY INADEQUATE FOR 1.9 MILLION PEOPLE WITHIN 50 MILES OF COMANCHE PEAK NUCLEAR POWER PLANT03/11/2016 Ben Smilowitz Comments Closed
REPORT: EMERGENCY AND EVACUATION PLANNING DANGEROUSLY INADEQUATE FOR 1.9 MILLION PEOPLE WITHIN 50 MILES OF COMANCHE PEAK NUCLEAR POWER PLANTFor Immediate Release:
CONTACT: Ben Smilowitz / firstname.lastname@example.org / (202) 556-3023
Download Report Here: http://disasteraccountability.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/DAP-Comanche-Peak-Nuclear-Power-Station.pdf
ROCKVILLE, MD — Emergency and evacuation planning related to radiological incidents at the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant (Comanche Peak) located in Somervell County, Texas are dangerously inadequate, according to an investigation by Disaster Accountability Project (DAP). Comanche Peak is less than 40 miles from Fort Worth.
Federal regulations require “emergency planning zones” or EPZs within 10 miles of U.S. nuclear power plants. Jurisdictions located in EPZs must develop evacuation protocols for responding to radiological incidents and provide residents living within these zones annual information on protective actions for radiological emergencies.
Outside the 10-mile zones, local governments are not required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to plan for radiological emergency evacuations, or to educate the general public on what to do in the event of a radiological emergency.
The 10-mile guidelines remain unchanged after the March 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster, where Japan evacuated residents within a 19-mile radius and the NRC recommended a 50-mile evacuation zone for American citizens.
In the event of an emergency, many residents living beyond the 10-mile “emergency planning zone” of Comanche Peak are likely to voluntarily evacuate. According to a 2013 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, without planning and regular public information, such voluntary “shadow evacuations” can complicate the evacuation of people most immediately in danger, for instance, by putting additional traffic on roadways. In response, the NRC claimed that additional planning is unnecessary, emphasizing that “[s]tate and local authorities have a robust capacity to effectively evacuate the public in response to life-threatening emergencies.”
Between October 2015 and January 2016, DAP contacted 17 jurisdictions within a 50-mile radius of Comanche Peak, seeking documents and information related to radiological preparedness, including evacuation planning. Only 14 of these jurisdictions provided any kind of a response. The 17 jurisdictions DAP contacted are: Somervell County, Hood County, Bosque County, Johnson County, Erath County, Parker County, Hill County, Palo Pinto County, Tarrant County, Hamilton County, City of Fort Worth, Comanche County, Eastland County, Ellis County, City of Arlington, Dallas County, and Wise County.
Key findings include:
0 out of 4 jurisdictions within 10 miles of Comanche Peak and 0 out of 13 jurisdictions between 10-50 miles of Comanche Peak reported providing educational materials or plans to residents regarding how to respond to a radiological incident at that plant.
9 out of 17 (53%) of the jurisdictions provided all-hazard emergency plans and/or evacuation plans.
1 out of 17 (6%) of the jurisdictions provided emergency plans specific to radiological incidents at Comanche Peak.
Only 1 out of 17 jurisdictions furnished a shadow evacuation plan or study.
DAP agrees with the GAO report’s conclusion that further study is required to understand the level of public knowledge and the likely public reaction to a nuclear plant emergency, beyond the current 10-mile emergency planning zone.
Since the NRC recommended a 50-mile evacuation zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster, a radiation spill at Comanche Peak would likely result in a “shadow evacuation” of citizens beyond a 10-mile radius, for which citizens and disaster response teams are unprepared.
“Most communities situated ten or more miles from nuclear power plants do not plan for radiological emergencies simply because Washington doesn’t require it,” said Ben Smilowitz, Executive Director, Disaster Accountability Project. “Most people who live 20, 30, or 40 miles away from plants do not realize that their communities are only adhering to bare-minimum standards for radiological emergency preparedness.”
“This report’s findings should serve as a wake-up call to local communities that if Washington is not going to demand emergency planning, residents should demand it themselves. We hope residents of these communities will call on their local governments to do more, regardless of any mandate from Washington,” Smilowitz said.
“We should learn the lessons of past disasters and not repeat them. In the five years since Fukushima, we had an opportunity to prepare communities for the unexpected. Over 100 million Americans are at greater risk because of a failure to plan.”
After an earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the Japanese Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011, over 150,000 Japanese citizens were evacuated within 19 miles of the stricken plant due to the presence of radiological plumes. The NRC recommended that U.S. citizens evacuate from as far as 50 miles of the plant. This distance exceeds the current mandatory planning zone of 10-miles, and the NRC has not satisfactorily reconciled this disparity between current planning and real-world guidance.
DAP’s series of reports on U.S. radiological evacuation planning can be found at http://disasteraccountability.org/news-media/reports/.
The nonprofit Disaster Accountability Project saves lives and reduces suffering after disasters by maximizing the impact of preparedness, response and relief through citizen oversight and engagement, policy research and advocacy, and public education. Connect with Disaster Accountability Project at http://www.disasteraccountability.org.