Further Actions Needed To Improve Emergency Preparedness Around Nuclear Powerplants

Gao ID: RCED-84-43 August 1, 1984

GAO reported on the adequacy of federal, state, and local offsite emergency planning and preparedness for mitigating the consequences of a nuclear power plant accident.

GAO concluded that, although progress has been made since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, more can and should be done. GAO found that state and local emergency preparedness plans were developed and tested for all 54 operating nuclear power plant sites, and 24 of these met the federal criteria and were approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The reasons that the remaining plans have not been approved relate to their not meeting federal criteria, some local communities not fully participating in the emergency planning process, and the difficulty some state and local governments experienced in obtaining funding for emergency planning and preparedness. In addition, GAO found that improvements are needed in the exercises conducted to test the adequacy of state and local planning and preparedness. FEMA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rely on states and utilities to plan preparedness tests, but FEMA does not verify the compliance of preparedness plans with federal criteria, and it does not have an agencywide tracking system for ensuring that deficiencies are identified. Finally, GAO found that agencies need to provide better guidance to state and local governments for developing state and local emergency preparedness plans, and that the federal response plan for nuclear power plant emergencies can be improved by providing for more centralized federal agency control and coordination.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Keith O. Fultz Team: General Accounting Office: Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division Phone: (202) 512-3678

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