Obama Administration Quietly Weakens Emergency Planning at Nuclear Plants
Friday, May 18, 2012
Update: See link to NRC response below.
The holidays are a time of celebration for Americans, and a perfect time for their government to bury controversial changes in policy.
That’s what apparently happened last December when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) decided to weaken rules requiring emergency planning at the nation’s nuclear power plants.
For the first time since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, not to mention Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi crisis last year, the U.S. government revised policies governing local responses to power plant emergencies, including terrorist attacks and radiation leaks.
The changes now require fewer exercises for major accidents and recommend fewer people be evacuated following a plant disaster, according to the Associated Press. The NRC and FEMA also did away with a mandate that local police and firefighters always conduct practice exercises for radiation releases.
The agencies did add one new exercise, requiring state and community police to participate in exercises simulating an attack on a local plant.
The NRC and FEMA adopted the new rules in December, but issued no news releases about them. The changes were done so quietly that even some watchdog groups that closely monitor Washington failed to learn of the new rules until informed by the AP.
To Learn More:
AP IMPACT: Evacs and Drills Pared Near Nuke Plants (by Jeff Donn, Associated Press)
Nuclear Officials Worry about Safety Plans Despite Public Assurances (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
NRC Response (pdf)
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