Report Focuses on Nuclear Plant Accident Response

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission released a publication that provides new insights into how best to protect the public during a nuclear power plant accident.

The publication is based on the results of focus groups and telephone surveys conducted in the Emergency Planning Zones (EPZs) around reactor sites. The data will help the NRC review its regulations and guidance related to emergency preparedness and determine if changes need to be considered to existing protective action strategies.

Focus groups were used in 2007 to collect information that guided the development of the phone survey. The phone survey was administered in 2008 by Sandia National Laboratories, under contract to the NRC, to approximately 2,500 households randomly selected in order to obtain 800 completed, anonymous surveys. The surveys found that a majority of the residents living within the EPZs of nuclear power plants:

were generally well informed about what to do in a nuclear power plant emergency;
remembered receiving emergency response information from the nuclear power plant and kept it readily accessible;
recalled receiving information about evacuation and sheltering;
agreed they would evacuate, shelter-in-place or monitor for more information, if directed to do so; and
agreed they would support a staged evacuation, during which some residents would shelter while others would evacuate.

The survey also found that many parents will get their children from school even when told they were already being evacuated and that many “special needs” residents who don’t live in special facilities had not registered for evacuation assistance.

Based on the results of the survey, the NRC, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is proceeding with revision of “NUREG-0654, Supplement 3, Criteria for Protective Action Recommendations for Severe Accidents,” which provides guidance for protective action strategies for severe accidents at nuclear power plants. NRC will seek stakeholder input during the process to revise Supplement 3. In addition, NRC will work with stakeholders and its federal partners, including FEMA, to address the findings of the study.

The full report, titled, “Review of NUREG-0654, Supplement 3, Criteria for Protective Action Recommendations for Severe Accidents,” can be found at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/contract/cr6953/vol2.

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