In response to media inquiries concerning the study, NEI issued the following statement:
The emergency planning programs and requirements that are the focus of this report are only one element of a comprehensive, multilayered strategy that is in place to assure public health and safety. Because our facilities are operating safely – as verified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a multitude of safety and performance indicators that are monitored and reported regularly – this report should be viewed within the larger context of protective measures that we take to prepare for the unexpected. Our defense in depth approach encompasses the robust design and construction of facilities, including the fuel cladding, the reactor coolant systems, and the containment structure, buttressed by severe accident management procedures, the FLEX strategy of portable, emergency equipment being implemented post-Fukushima, and these emergency preparedness programs that are exercised and evaluated regularly.Please consult our website for more information about emergency preparedness.
The report notes that the NRC still considers the 10-mile and 50-mile emergency planning zones to be adequate, based on health evidence from the Three Mile Island and Fukushima accidents and the findings of recent NRC studies on the potential consequences of severe accidents at U.S. facilities. The State of the Art Reactor Consequences analyses, released in January 2012, showed that earlier NRC studies that projected off-site radiological health consequences for potential severe reactor accidents were extremely conservative. The analyses showed that there are significantly more fission products retained within the reactor coolant system and containment than previously believed, and that there is more time for mitigation of a severe accident than previously believed, because accidents generally progress significantly more slowly than previously believed --that is, many hours to tens of hours vs. about one hour in a related study from 1982.