REPORTS: EMERGENCY AND EVACUATION PLANNING INADEQUATE FOR MORE THAN 117 MILLION AMERICANS LIVING WITHIN 50 MILES OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS

REPORTS: EMERGENCY AND EVACUATION PLANNING INADEQUATE FOR MORE THAN 117 MILLION AMERICANS LIVING WITHIN 50 MILES OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS

For Immediate Release:

CONTACT: Ben Smilowitz / ben@disasteraccountability.org / (202) 556-3023

View Reports HERE: http://disasteraccountability.org/news-media/reports/

ROCKVILLE, MD — Emergency and evacuation planning related to radiological incidents at U.S. nuclear power plants are dangerously inadequate, according to an investigation by Disaster Accountability Project (DAP).

“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. More than 100 million Americans are at risk because local authorities have failed to plan accordingly,” says Ben Smilowitz, Executive Director of Disaster Accountability Project.

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 a nuclear plant are likely to voluntarily evacuate. A 2013 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report revealed that without planning and regular public information, such voluntary “shadow evacuations” can complicate the evacuation of people most immediately in danger 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 2015-2016, DAP contacted 110 jurisdictions across 16 states and within 50 miles of domestic nuclear power plants seeking documents and information related to radiological preparedness, including evacuation planning.

The plants, located within 8 states, included the Columbia Generating Station, Richland, Washington; Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, Glen Rose, Texas; Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Avila Beach, California; Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station, Frenchtown Charter Township, Michigan; Limerick Generating Station, Pottstown, Pennsylvania; Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, Tonopah, Arizona; Perry Nuclear Power Plant, Perry, Ohio; and Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, Red Wing, Minnesota.

Across All Reports, key findings include:

• Overall, jurisdictions located within 50 miles of the eight plants surveyed for this report, collectively representing 23.7 million people, lack adequate emergency planning.

• Only 7 out of 18 jurisdictions within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant, and 1 out of 92 jurisdictions between 10 and 50 miles, could provide any shadow evacuation planning.

• Less than 9% of jurisdictions between 10 and 50 miles of the plants could satisfactorily provide any emergency plans specific to nearby nuclear power plants.

• Only 10 of 18 jurisdictions within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant provided any radiological educational materials or planning shared with residents. This is notable, as NRC regulations require these jurisdictions to share this information to residents on a regular basis.

Fermi: population: 5,064,000; 22 jurisdictions – 2 states – 1 within 10 / 21 outside 10; shadow evacuation — 0 within 10 / 0 between 10-50; emergency plans specific to plant between 10-50: 0; education materials within 10: 1

Limerick: population: 8,127,000; 18 jurisdictions – 4 states – 3 within 10 / 15 outside 10; shadow evacuation — 1 within 10 / 1 between 10-50; emergency plans specific to plant between 10-50: 2; education materials within 10: 0

Palo Verde: population: 2,212,000; 4 jurisdictions – 1 state – 1 within 10 / 3 outside 10; shadow evacuation — 0 within 10 / 0 between 10-50; emergency plans specific to plant between 10-50: 0; education materials within 10: 0

Prairie Island: population: 3,100,000; 19 jurisdictions – 2 states – 3 within 10 / 16 outside 10; shadow evacuation — 2 within 10 / 0 between 10-50; emergency plans specific to plant between 10-50: 1; education materials within 10: 2

Comanche Peak: population: 1,889,000; 17 jurisdictions – 1 state – 2 within 10 / 15 outside 10; shadow evacuation — 1 within 10 / 0 between 10-50; emergency plans specific to plant between 10-50: 0; education materials within 10: 0

Perry Plant: population: 2,398,000; 12 jurisdictions – 2 states – 3 within 10 / 9 outside 10; shadow evacuation — 1 within 10 / 0 between 10-50; emergency plans specific to plant between 10-50: 0; education materials within 10: 3

Diablo Canyon: population: 471,000; 9 jurisdictions – 1 state – 2 within 10 / 7 outside 10; shadow evacuation — 1 within 10 / 0 between 10-50; emergency plans specific to plant between 10-50: 1; education materials within 10: 1

Columbia: population: 471,000; 9 jurisdictions – 1 state – 3 within 10 / 6 outside 10; shadow evacuation — 1 within 10 / 0 between 10-50; emergency plans specific to plant between 10-50: 4; education materials within 10: 3

Population Total: 23,732,000 Jurisdictions: 110 States: 16 Jurisdictions within 10: 18 Jurisdictions between 10-50: 92 Shadow Evacuation within 10: 7 Shadow Evacuation between 10-50: 1 Emergency Plans Specific to Plant between 10-50: 8 Education Materials within 10: 10

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 U.S. nuclear plant 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,” Smilowitz said. “Most people who live 20, 30, or 40 miles away from these plants do not realize 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.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

After an earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the Japanese Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011, more than 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.

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