Emergency Preparedness Around Nuclear Powerplants

Gao ID: 122027 August 2, 1983

GAO discussed federal, state, and local emergency planning and preparedness for nuclear powerplant accidents. GAO believes that, since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, a good deal of progress has been made by federal, state, and local authorities as well as utility companies in planning for offsite responses to power plant emergencies. However, GAO found that: (1) while substantial progress has been made in developing offsite preparedness plans around operating sites, concern remains as to whether the resources and public awareness are adequate to properly execute these plans; (2) additional federal guidance is needed to improve State and local response capabilities; and (3) much remains to be done to achieve a coordinated federal response strategy to deal with power plant accidents. 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. The FEMA process for evaluating and approving state and local planning and preparedness involves reviewing plans for compliance with federal criteria and testing plans in annual exercises. However, this process has not always provided consistent and reliable results, and FEMA is initiating action to correct the process' deficiencies.

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