New report claims most jurisdictions are not planning and do not possess emergency evacuation plans for the Indian Point Energy Center.

For Immediate Release: APRIL 15, 2015

CONTACT: Ben Smilowitz / / (202) 556-3023

Rockville, MD — Emergency planning and public education related to radiological incidents at the Indian Point Energy Center are inadequate, according to a new report by Disaster Accountability Project (DAP).

Federal regulations require jurisdictions within 10-mile “emergency planning zones” of U.S. nuclear power plants to develop evacuation protocols for responding to radiological incidents, and to provide to residents living within these zones annual information on radiation and protective actions during radiological emergencies.

Outside the 10-mile zones, local governments are not required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to plan for radiological emergency evacuations, or educate the general public on what to do in the event of a radiological emergency.

Without planning and regular public information, many residents living outside the 10-mile radius are likely to voluntarily evacuate, even if authorities deem their particular locations safe. Such voluntary “shadow evacuations” have the potential to complicate the evacuation of people most immediately in danger by, for instance, putting additional traffic on roadways, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. In response, the NRC claimed that such planning is unnecessary, saying that current 10-mile planning zones provide an “adequate” level of protection of public health and safety in the event of an emergency at a nuclear power plant.

Between July 2013 and May 2014, DAP surveyed 24 cities and counties in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania within 50 miles of the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York, seeking documents and information related to radiological preparedness, including evacuation planning.

Key findings include the following:

  • Only four of the 24 jurisdictions within 50 miles of Indian Point provided information about shadow evacuation planning. Twenty jurisdictions representing over 8 million people reported that they do not possess or are not aware of shadow evacuation planning specific to the plant.
  • 20 out of 24 jurisdictions within 50 miles of Indian Point could not provide any emergency planning specific to the plant. 16.6 million people live in jurisdictions that could not provide any emergency planning specific to radiological incidents at the Indian Point plant.

“Most communities situated ten or more miles from Indian Point do not plan for radiological emergencies simply because Washington doesn’t require it,” said Ben Smilowitz, Executive Director, Disaster Accountability Project. “Most people that 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,” said Smilowitz.


Of the four counties in New York that constitute the 10-mile emergency planning zone — Orange, Rockland, Putnam, and Westchester — only Orange and Rockland counties were aware of any shadow evacuation planning, referring DAP to studies sponsored by Entergy Nuclear, owner of Indian Point.

Outside of the 10-mile zone, only New York City and Nassau County, NY provided responses regarding shadow evacuations, however the documents contained only general emergency information not specific to Indian Point.

After an earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the Japanese Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011, over 150,000 people were evacuated within 19 miles of the stricken plant due to the presence of radiological plumes. The NRC itself recommended that U.S. citizens evacuate as far as 50 miles of the plant. This distance exceeds the current mandatory planning zone of 10-miles, and the Commission has not satisfactorily reconciled this disparity between current planning and real-world implementation.

The “Report on Emergency Evacuation Planning for Indian Point Energy Center” can be found here:



Since 2007, 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