Photo courtesy of Kyoto News AP

A recently released report by the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) group claims that no meaningful progress has been achieved in improving the ability of first responders and medical professionals to react to a similar Fukushima-level disaster in the United States.

The major factors complicating progress on preparedness initiatives in this area were stated to be;

  1. Growing population near nuclear facility locations,
  2. Aging reactors in too many of those locations, and
  3. Lack of Government coordination driving less than needed results to mitigate related risks.

How serious is the potential emergency response problem? The PSR report further points out that:

  1. Over the past 40 years populations have grown markedly in the 10- and 50-mile established evacuation zones surrounding operating U.S. commercial nuclear reactors.
  2. Nearly all spent nuclear fuel ever created by U.S. commercial reactors, approximately 72,000 tons, has accumulated and is still stored at U.S. reactor stations.
  3. Severe weather/natural disaster events approaching those of Fukushima are no longer uncommon in the U.S.
  4. Plume pathways from a severe reactor accident would never behave according the simple 10-mile radius paradigm central to the basis of current U.S. emergency planning for reactor emergencies. Neither would a 50-mile or greater radius, used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for radiation contaminated food and water interdiction as numerous radiation hot spots have been identified in Japan more than 100 miles from Fukushima.
  5. The U.S. has not developed the programs to educate the public on radioactivity and radiologic hazards before possible accidents happen.
  6. U.S. reactor stations do not have a uniform, robust infrastructure to transmit critical status data to the NRC, nor do they have a “black box” recording real-time data on events for post-accident analysis.
  7. Existing U.S. emergency preparedness drills do not consider prolonged station black out, severe regional natural disasters, or multi-reactor events.

While this topic will most likely remain a highly debated and controversial topic for a long time, the potential danger and risk of a disruptive incident stemming from nuclear power related facility is real.  And the question is always asked, “If and when such a disaster occurs, what will it mean to me, my community and where I work?”  This report should get your attention enough to start answering some of those questions…..

Business continuity and disaster preparedness planners in companies and communities located within 10-50 miles from any of the United States’ aging nuclear reactor sites should add this report to their next meeting agenda — to not only build awareness of these issues but perhaps to encourage their organization and the community to seek more information and remain better informed about timely updates regarding this critical potential risk and how it relates to their own business continuity strategies.

Click here to read the full PSR report.

Our staff has also listed below a few related articles regarding this pending risk and offers them as additional reading resource materials for your BC/DR teams:

PSR Report: U.S. First Responders, Medical Infrastructure not Prepared for Fukushima-Level Reactor Crisis in the United States

IAEA and WANO mark anniversary of Fukushima accident, increase cooperation

Lessons for the Pacific Northwest: Japanese Death Toll Could Have Been Worse

If applicable, please pass this information along to those risk management and disaster preparedness planning team members in your own organization or community.  And, if you work at a private sector organization located in a risk prone area, then perhaps, your PS-Prep strategy planning team members would like to add this material to their in-house reading resource library.

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