United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Assessment of Emergency Response Planning and Implementation for Large Scale Evacuations (NUREG/CR-6981)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: August 20008
Date Published: October 2008

Prepared by:
J.A. Jones, F. Walton, and J.D. Smith

B. Wolshon, Associate Professor

Sandia National Laboratories
Albuquerque, NM 87175
Operated by Sandia Corporation for the
U.S. Department of Energy

Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

P. Milligan, NRC Technical Lead
D. Johnson, NRC Project Manager

Prepared for:
Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

NRC Job Code R3118

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Abstract

Evacuation is a key protective action element in the emergency preparedness plans for nuclear power plants (NPPs). Following the devastating hurricane season of 2005, the nation recognized the need to review emergency response planning. The NRC has sponsored this study to assess Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, as well as other large scale evacuations from which lessons learned may further enhance the emergency preparedness program for radiological emergencies at NPPs. Evacuations related to these incidents have brought to light issues that have not been previously encountered during large scale evacuations. The knowledge gained from studying 11 large scale evacuations is used to determine if the emergency planning activities were effective in managing the response effort. The 11 incidents covered wide geographical areas and affected 14 NPP Emergency Planning Zones (EPZs). None of the evacuations were related to the NPPs. Discussions with emergency response personnel confirmed that response to many of these incidents benefitted from the use of some of the emergency planning elements developed for the EPZs. Research of evacuations such as these provides an opportunity to understand contributing factors that support the effectiveness of emergency response activities. A key finding of this study is that emergency planning for NPPs has substantially anticipated and addressed the issues identified in the large scale evacuations researched. Insights and lessons learned are identified, and suggestions are provided for possible enhancements to the NRC and FEMA emergency preparedness program.

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