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NEI Statement on GAO Report on Radiological Incidents and Likely Public Response

Earlier today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a study that concluded that the NRC needs to do a better job understanding how the public might react in response to theoretical incidents at U.S. nuclear power plants.

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.

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.
Please consult our website for more information about emergency preparedness.

Comments

Anonymous said…
This statement is sort of indirect and unclear. It implies some things but doesn't come right out and say it.

Does the NEI think shadow evacuations are not a major concern because nuclear accidents are less harmful than previously thought? Then say so, make the connection. Don't make us guess what the argument is.
Anonymous said…
People like Boxer and Markey cause unnecessary fear by their unfounded statements and speculation - and simply appeal to emotion for the quick political and media spotlight. The reality is that it is far riskier and dangerous for any one of us to be in a vehicle on a public roadway in the US, or even to climb a flight of stairs, than it is to live within the vicinity of a nuclear power plant. The key is to ensure that the regulator does the job of ensuring operators comply with the regulations. Don't forget - the people who operate those nuclear power plants live near those plants with their families and friends. They take their responsibility to protect the health and safety of the public and the environment just as seriously as does the NRC.
Anonymous said…
The GAO seems to be singularly focused on traffic. Who were those involved in the "research" for the study? What were their credentials? Were they pandering to their clients? It seems one must take into account the totality of the situation which includes the basis for the 10 mile zone, new information concerning health effects, data from Fukushima residents, etc. if one is to drive new law or regulatory changes unless you have a specific agenda.
Anonymous said…
"The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress."
Anonymous said…
Fukushima accident is not a good yard stick for the effects of radiological incidents for nuclear reactors located in Illinois or Pennsylvania because most of the radioactive material went out over the ocean and into the ocean. That would not be the case for most reactors in the US. Chicago and Philadelphia are downwind of many old reactors.
Anonymous said…
Planning of responses to nuclear accidents should take into acount the fact that UNSCEAR 2012 has demolished the LNT theory. Exposures of less than 10 rem, as I understand it, are harmless.

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