Report details emergency preparedness near Indian Point

By Colleen Wilson

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Most state and local municipalities within 50 miles of the nuclear power plant in Buchanan are not prepared for an emergency nuclear incident, according to findings in a report released earlier this month by the Disaster Accountability Project, a nonprofit watchdog organization.

However, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the two federal bodies that provide oversight in planning and responding to such events, only require state and local authorities within a 10-mile radius of a nuclear power plant to have emergency plans.

The counties that fall within 10 miles of Indian Point Energy Center are Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Orange counties, and they all provided emergency planning documents, the report found.

The additional areas that would be affected by a 50-mile rule are six counties in New York, all of New York City, nine counties in New Jersey, three cities in Connecticut and one county in Pennsylvania.

Of those 20 areas, 12 did not have emergency planning documents specific to possible radiological events at Indian Point, and the remaining eight did not respond.

Other items requested from the jurisdictions included brochures to inform individuals about how to respond to a nuclear emergency, real-time emergency information and instruction material and studies conducted on so-called shadow evacuators, or people who evacuate during an emergency after being told by authorities that it is not necessary.

DAP’s research was inspired by a Government Accountability Office report published in March 2013 that examined what is known by federal agencies, nuclear power plant licensees and state and local authorities about emergency preparedness near nuclear energy plants.

In summary, the GAO report found that it is unknown whether people outside of the 10-mile zone are aware of what to do if a nuclear emergency were to occur. While the NRC disagrees with that finding, the GAO recommended that the commission “obtain information on public awareness of radiological emergency preparedness for communities outside the 10-mile emergency planning zone.”

The DAP was created in 2007 and has published reports on relief responses to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and emergency preparedness in south Louisiana.

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About the author

Colleen Wilson
Colleen is a graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. She covers energy, transportation and state government for the Westchester County Business Journal.

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