United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Identification and Analysis of Factors Affecting Emergency Evacuations: Main Report (NUREG/CR-6864, SAND2004-5901, Volume 1)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: December 2004
Date Published:
January 2005

Prepared by:
L.J. Dotson, J. Jones
Sandia National Laboratories
P.O. Box 5800
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-0779

D. Schneck, NRC Project Manager
R. Sullivan, NRC Technical Lead

Prepared for:
Division of Preparedness and Response
Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

NRC Job Code J3056

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This study examines the efficiency and effectiveness of public evacuations of 1,000 or more people, in response to natural disasters, technological hazards, and malevolent acts, occurring in the United States between January 1, 1990, and June 30, 2003. A universe of 230 evacuation incidents was identified and a subset of 50 incidents was selected for case study analysis. Case study selection was based on a profiling and ranking scheme designed to identify evacuation incidents of sufficient complexity to challenge the local and regional emergency response capabilities. Case study analysis included completion of a detailed question survey for each incident. Advanced statistical methods, including regression analyses and correlation analyses, were used to identify factors contributing to evacuation efficiency. The regression analyses identified that community familiarity with alerting methods and door-to-door notification were statistically significant for a more efficient evacuation. The following factors were statistically significant for a less efficient evacuation: traffic accidents, number of deaths from the hazard, number of injuries caused by the evacuation, people spontaneously evacuating before being told to do so, people refusing to evacuate, and looting or vandalism. In addition, interviewees stated that the following contributed to the efficiency and effectiveness of their evacuation: a high level of cooperation among agencies, use of multiple forms of emergency communications, community familiarity with alerting methods, community cooperation, and well-trained emergency responders. All 50 evacuation cases studied safely evacuated people from the area, saved lives, and reduced the potential number of injuries from the hazard.

Volume I contains the Main Report. Volume II contains appendices supporting case studies.

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