Casey Urges Immediate Review of Nuclear Evacuation Zones

One Year After Disaster in Japan, Nuclear Regulator Has Yet to Release a Review of Evacuation Distance

WASHINGTON, DC – In a letter today to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called for an immediate re-examination of whether the standard 1o mile evacuation zone around nuclear power plants is an appropriate distance. More than a year after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, the NRC has yet to release a review of evacuation zones in the United States.

“My constituents are deeply concerned about the emergency evacuation plans for Pennsylvania’s five nuclear power plants, and they deserve to know that all aspects of our preparedness plans have been re-evaluated in the wake of the disaster in Japan,” said Senator Casey. “One year after Japan’s disaster, it is time that millions of Pennsylvanians living in close proximity to nuclear power plants know that the unique characteristics of each plant have been taken into account in the development of evacuation plans.”

More than 10 million Pennsylvanians live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant.

In his letter, Senator Casey wrote, “Given the unique characteristics of each nuclear power plant, I ask that the NRC consider whether individually-determined distances at each location might better serve the needs of Pennsylvanians in an emergency.”   

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to Gregory B. Jaczko, Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is below:

The Honorable Gregory B. Jaczko

Chairman

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Dear Chairman Jaczko:

One year ago, the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant spurred concern and a review of our Nation’s emergency preparedness plans for nuclear disasters.  Because over 10 million Pennsylvanians, which is 80% of the population of the State, live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant, I urge the NRC to focus on and speed up the ongoing re-examination of the current ten-mile evacuation zone standard.

An immediate re-examination of whether the current ten-mile evacuation zone is the appropriate distance for each individual plant is of the utmost importance. Given the unique characteristics of each nuclear power plant, I ask that the NRC consider whether individually-determined distances at each location might better serve the needs of Pennsylvanians in an emergency.  For example, population densities and transportation infrastructure surrounding each of the Nation's 65 nuclear power plants have changed since these plants were first built.  Changes such as these must have an effect on how the NRC determines appropriate evacuation distances.

My constituents are deeply concerned about the emergency evacuation plans of the five nuclear power plants located in Pennsylvania: Three Mile Island, Susquehanna, Beaver Valley, Peach Bottom and Limerick.  My constituents deserve to know that the NRC has reviewed all the standards and regulations in the wake of the disaster in Japan. 

It is imperative that the NRC focus on this important issue and address these concerns immediately.  In order to meet Pennsylvania’s energy security and economic needs, nuclear power plants must continue to produce safe, reliable energy.  Reviewing this standard is vital to the future success of the industry.

Thank you for your attention to these issues. I look forward to continue working with the Commission in the future.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senate

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