Emergency Preparedness Around Nuclear Powerplants

Gao ID: 122039 June 8, 1983

GAO discussed the status of Federal, State and local emergency planning and preparedness to deal with nuclear powerplant accidents. In a 1979 report, GAO recommended that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) allow nuclear powerplants to begin operation only where State and local emergency response plans contain all of these essential planning elements. GAO also recommended that NRC require license applicants to make agreements with State and local agencies requiring their full participation in annual emergency exercises over the life of the facility. NRC disagreed with the GAO recommendations, but public and congressional debate continues over whether NRC should have such a policy. Although progress has been made in emergency planning and preparedness since the Three Mile Island accident, many States and communities with nuclear powerplants are still not adequately prepared to respond to an emergency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) formally approved planning and preparedness at 18 of the 53 operating sites, but it concluded that planning and preparedness are still insufficient to warrant its approval at the 35 remaining sites. In addition, the FEMA process for evaluating State and local preparedness planning has not always produced consistent and reliable results. Therefore, added pressure is placed on NRC to promptly consider balance, and resolve the relevant health and safety, economic, and political issues.

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