Emergency Response

Because reactors are so dangerous, an emergency response and evacuation plan are essential. Yet many reactor sites are not easily accessible making such evacuation plans unrealistic and the demands placed on emergency response teams unachievable.



"Nuclear Evacuation Preparations in Question for Chicago Area Communities"

NBC 5 investigative reporter Chris Coffey has looked at the Disaster Accountability Project's findings and applied them to Exelon's atomic reactors in Illinois. Major gaps are apparent, especially in the 10- to 50-mile zones around atomic reactors.

The U.S. government warned Americans in Japan to get at least 50 miles away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, once the radiological catastrophe began there in March 2011.

The report quotes Beyond Nuclear: “They are not ready for the flood of nuclear evacuees that would flow out of the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone and seek shelter in their communities, not to mention potentially large numbers of spontaneous 'shadow' evacuees who would also flee in panic, despite no official orders to do so,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear.


Lochbaum at UCS: "Fukushima 50 vs. Palisades 40"

David Lochbaum, Director, Nuclear Safety Project, UCSDavid Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) communicated the following to Beyond Nuclear:

"The NRC has been withholding from the public all emergency plans submitted by owners since October 2004, apparently part of the agency's transparency thingy.

So, I FOIA'ed all the emergency plans submitted by owners since October 2004, as part of our transparency thingy.

Attached are three pages from the latest version of Palisades' emergency plan (full plan available - now - in ADAMS at

It shows the minimum staffing levels and augmentation plans for Palisades in event of an accident.

Excluding security guards, the minimum staffing level is 14.

That massive force, larger than the offensive team on an NFL football squad, is supposed to be augmented by 11 more persons within 30 minutes and another 15 persons within another half hour.

So, within 60 minutes of an accident, a whooping "army" of 40 persons (excluding security guards who, having both guns and cars, might actually be physically excluded) to handle the accident. 

That's fewer persons than in a high school band or NFL football team.

Much was made during the Fukushima accident about TEPCO dropping the onsite staffing level to "only" 50 - or two basketball teams more than Palisades staffs "up" to.

But there's a silver lining, or glass half full.

40 persons, unless they really work at it, will make fewer mistakes than 200 people. True, they don't be able to do nearly as much work as 200 people, but way less work means way less errors of commission. (Errors of omission hurt, but aren't counted here.)

And here's the other half of that there glass.

The 40 persons are not mere mortals. They must be super heroes, or better.

Take a gander at page two under the "Repairs and Corrective Actions" task. There is one (1) person performing Mechanical Maintenance repairs, aided by a second super hero within an hour.

Two people doing mechanical maintenance repairs following an accident.

They have to be super heroes. Routine tasks during the week take dozens of mechanical maintenance workers. But during an accident, workers must become super workers.

Look at the electrical maintenance repairs. They have 50 percent more staff -- three super workers instead of only two.

Remind me to someday get the autographs of these super workers.

During the week, non-super workers need clerks to find and fetch parts from the warehouse and obtain copies of appropriate work procedures. But during an accident, super workers can do their tasks as well as tasks of the warehouse clerks and document control room staff.

And these super workers will save the day in event of an accident.

Unless an accident occurs to reveal 40 humans.


Dave Lochbaum



"Pilgrim Nuclear Plant shutdowns leave questions unanswered for Outer Cape"

NRC file photo of Entergy Nuclear's Pilgrim atomic reactor in Plymouth, MA on Cape Cod Bay, south of BostonAs reported by Peter J. Brown at Wicked Local Wellfleet, concerns continue to simmer downwind of Entergy Nuclear's Pilgrim atomic reactor (photo, left) in the aftermath of two severe winter storm related shutdowns in the span of just a couple weeks. Numerous elected and other public officials, from Massachusetts State legislators to local Selectmen, to spokespeople for the Cape Cod National Seashore advisory body, are quoted in the article, calling for Pilgrim's permanent shutdown as a safety precaution in the unevacuable Cape Cod region.


"Vermont Yankee: Vermont asks for hearing in EPZ reductions"

NRC file photo of VY, located across the Connecticut River from New Hampshire, in Vernon, VT, just 8 miles upstream of the Massachusetts state line.As reported by Robert Audette of the Associated Press, the State of Vermont Department of Public Service has petitioned to intervene, and for full adjudicatory public hearings, regarding an Entergy Nuclear's License Amendment Request (LAR) that would significantly reduce, or completely eliminate, emergency preparedness at the permanently closed Vermont Yankee atomic reactor in Vernon, VT (photo, left).

As reported in the article:

'Entergy's requested amendment would reduce the 10-mile emergency preparedness zone around the plant to its actual footprint as well as its financial contributions to emergency management organizations in the EPZ [Emergency Planning Zone]. Entergy is also asking for a reduction in its offsite emergency notification system, elimination of hostile-action scenario planning and remove the state from participating in emergency response exercises. The change in the notification system would increase notification time from 15 to 60 minutes, states the filing presented to the NRC on Feb. 9."

In the filing, Recchia wrote that if approved the amendment request would "increase the threat to public health and safety in the event of a credible accident scenario...

Lack of funding from Entergy would also hinder the state's ability "to implement the Vermont Radiological Emergency Response Programs, and any additional off-site response to an emergency," wrote Recchia.'

Significantly, many hundreds of tons of irradiated nuclear fuel will likely remain in VY's storage pool until at least 2020. Loss of the cooling water supply, as by sudden drain down or slower motion boil down, whether due to accident, attack, or natural disaster, could cause an irradiated nuclear fuel fire, and unleash a catastrophic radioactivity release. The storage pool is not located within a radiological containment structure.


"Senators Markey, Boxer and Sanders Introduce Legislation to Increase Safety at Nuclear Plants"

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works CommitteeU.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA, photo at left), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) introduced three bills today aimed at improving the safety and security of decommissioning reactors and the storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear plants across the nation. 

The three bills address safety of spent fuel storage and decommissioning plans. They are entitled: Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act of 2014; Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Act of 2014 (see the bill, Sen. Sanders' press release, and a one-page summary); Dry Cask Storage Act of 2014. To learn more, see the press release at Sen. Markey's website.

The EPW Committee will hold and webcast a hearing entitled “Nuclear Reactor Decommissioning: Stakeholder Views” on Wed., May 14th, at 10 AM Eastern. Witnesses include CA and VT officials, and spokespeople from NRDC and NEI.

Please urge your two U.S. Senators to support these three bills. You can contact your Senators via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.