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.



Beyond Nuclear quoted on Palisades' radioactive risks

Anti-nuke watchdogs have long called for Palisades' shutdown. Here, Don't Waste Michigan board members Michael Keegan, Alice Hirt, and Kevin Kamps speak out at the Aug. 2000 Nuclear-Free Great Lakes Action Camp. The reactor's steam, and Lake Michigan, are visible in the background.In the past five days, Rosemary Parker at the Kalamazoo Gazette has quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps in two articles focused on the radioactive risks of the Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shoreline. On. Feb. 19th, in an article entitled "Is Southwest Michigan ready for nuclear emergency?", she reported:

'...But nuclear watchdog groups point to the hundreds of hours of additional oversight required by the NRC, the plant's aging equipment, the many glitches at the plant in recent months. The group Beyond Nuclear immediately responded to the change of Palisade's regulatory status with calls to "close it down before it melts down."

...Kevin Kamps, whose title is "radioactive waste watchdog" for the antinuclear group Beyond Nuclear, envisions a more unnerving worst-case scenario, akin to the disastrous 1986 explosion at  Chernobyl in Ukraine, where radioactive contamination was released into the atmosphere and traveled for miles.

In his view, disaster at Palisades could put the city of Chicago's drinking water supply at risk, wipe out Southwest Michigan's fruit belt orchards, destroy the area's tourism industry for years and make ghost towns out of thriving lakeshore communities.'

Parker also quoted Kevin's response to recent high-risk accidents at Palisades in a Feb. 16th article.

Kevin was born and raised in Kalamazoo. His anti-nuclear power activism began at Palisades in 1992.


Impossibility of evacuating S.E. MI, N.W. OH, and S.W. Ontario raised as objection to Fermi 3 new reactor proposal

Michael Keegan of Don't Waste Michigan, on behalf of an environmental coalition (including Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizen Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter) officially intervening against the Fermi 3 new reactor proposal, has raised the impossibility of evacuating southeast Michigan, northwest Ohio, and southwest Ontario in the event of a catastrophic radioactivity release at the Fermi nuclear power plant on the Lake Erie shoreline in Monroe, Michigan (just over 10 miles north of the Ohio state line, and a mere 8 miles, as the crow flies across Lake Erie, from Ontario). This objection was one of many.

(A comprehenisive, running list of comments, media coverage, and nuclear utility and NRC responses is now posted on Beyond Nuclear's website.)


Nuclear utility, radioactive waste shipper, join effort to train first responders for hazmat emergencies in Northwest Ohio

The Toledo Blade has reported that FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC), owner and operator of the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the shoreline of Lake Erie, as well as CSX railway, poised to haul high-level radioactive waste across the country, have joined with a local community college as well as the State Public Utilities Commission to train local first responders in hazardous materials emergency response. Davis-Besse represents perhaps the single greatest radiotoxic risk in northwest Ohio, although radioactive waste shipments by road, rail, or waterway are especially vulnerable to radioactivity releases due to attack or accident, including as they pass through or near major metropolitan population centers.

In 2003, Kevin Kamps, now Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Specialist, was arrested, along with Toledo colleague Mike Ferner, protesting a radioactive waste shipment through northwest Ohio. The Big Rock Point radioactive reactor pressure vessel, weighing 290 tons, was being shipped by train when protestors caught up to it in a Toledo area railyard. It had already caused a derailment in its wake in southeast Michigan, where its weight apparently damaged the train tracks, causing another train that came along later to derail, according to a local fire chief interviewed on local t.v. news. The shipment continued on to cause a similar derailment in its wake in the Carolinas. It was bound for Barnwell, South Carolina, where it was buried in a ditch at a leaking "low-level" radioactive waste dump, very near the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons complex, as well as the Vogtle nuclear power plant (not to mention the African American community of Shell Bluff, GA). High-level radioactive waste shipments carried out by CSX, as well as other rail, road, and barge shipping companies, would be of much greater radiological hazard than this radioactive reactor pressure vessel (so-called "low-level" radioactive waste).


Not on Our Fault Line calls upon NRC to distribute KI within 20 miles of North Anna

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)Not on Our Fault Line, a group of concerned citizens which formed in response to the 5.8 magnitude earthquake of August 23, 2011 epicentered just 11 miles from the North Anna nuclear power plant, is calling on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to enforce a 2002 law requiring the distribution of potassium iodide (KI) tablets within 20 miles of U.S. atomic reactors. KI saturates the human thyroid gland, blocking uptake of hazardous Iodine-131, a viciously radioactive substance that escaped during the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, causing an epidemic of thyroid disease downwind in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. Large quantities of I-131 also escaped during the Fukushima triple reactor core meltdown and radioactive waste storage pool fire that began in March 2011, leading the Japanese federal government to warn parents not to use Tokyo's tap water for infants during the early days of the catastrophe due to I-131 contamination. I-131 has an 8 day half life; thus, its hazardous persistence lasts 80 to 160 days.

Section 127 of the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 was sponsored as a successful amendment by U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA, pictured at left), a long time watchdog on the nuclear power industry. In May, 2011, Markey led a bipartisan letter of House Members addressed to President Obama, calling for implementation of the law. 9 long years after its enactment, NRC still had not enforced the law. Markey issued a press release about the letter to Obama, signed by 30 Members of Congress.


NRDC questions adequacy of emergency preparedness surrounding Limerick

NRC does not indicate whether or not the flowers in its file photo of Limerick are spiderwort mutated by radioactivityNatural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has filed a petition, backed up by technical declarations, to intervene with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), challenging the 20 year license extension sought by Exelon, the largest U.S. nuclear utility, for its twin-reactor Limerick Nuclear Power Plant near Pottstown, PA. Limerick is just 21 miles northwest of Philadelphia, with 8 million people living within 50 miles. NRDC argues that after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, Limerick's two decade old severe accident mitigation alternatives analysis is obsolete and far from sufficient. The Philadelphia Enquirer, Associated Press, WHYY (Philly NPR), and Pennsylvania NPR, among others, covered the story.  States News Service carried NRDC's media statement. NRC has rubberstamped 71 license extensions in the past dozen years. In 1982, an NRC sponsored study (which the agency unsuccessfully tried to cover up) reported that a major accident at Limerick could cause 74,000 "peak early fatalities" (second worst in the U.S. after Salem in New Jersey), 610,000 "peak early injuries" (by far the worst in the country), 34,000 "peak cancer deaths," and around $200 billion in property damage ($450 billion when adjusted for inflation). The population downwind of Limerick has grown by over a million since that study was produced. Both Limerick units are General Electric boiling water reactors with Mark 2 containment designs, similar in many ways to the catastrophically failed Fukushima Daiichi GE Mark 1s. Given the large population surrounding Limerick, and the old age of Exelon's emergency plans, NRDC questions the adequacy of preparedness for a serious accident at the twin-reactor complex.