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Casey Requests Additional Information on Nuclear Disaster Preparedness

June 28, 2011

As a recent investigation by the Associated Press points out, the areas around nuclear power plants have become increasingly crowded since the plants were first built and plant operators originally created their emergency plans. Evacuation plans for older plants may not be up-to-date in accounting for new routes, different traffic patterns and population shifts. Moreover, the risk of radiation from a major accident has reportedly increased in recent years. More than 90 of 104 operating reactors in the United States have operated at higher levels that, according to the Associated Press investigation, could raise the radiation risk in the event of an accident. Furthermore, the volume of spent fuel on reactor sites has also increased due to delay in identifying a permanent storage location in the U.S.

The emergency procedures are unclear and raise several questions, including:

• In developing security protocols, how has the NRC accounted for the increase in population around key nuclear facilities around the country?
• When was the last time that the NRC conducted a review of protocols for evacuation of an area affected by a nuclear accident?
• Has the risk of radiation increased to levels higher than for which emergency plans are designed?
• Has the NRC responsibly reported the risks to health and life, as well as potential economic damages to communities surrounding nuclear power plants in the event of a nuclear accident?

Many nuclear plants in the United States were intentionally built away from population and economic centers. As our country has grown, more of our citizens live in proximity to those plants. These new demographic realities require a reexamination of our security protocols.

As a Senator from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, my constituents are deeply concerned about the emergency plans relevant to the Three Mile Island, Susquehanna, Beaver Valley, Peach Bottom and Limerick plants. This growing challenge also has clear national implications that merit further scrutiny. Thank you for your attention to this important matter and I look forward to your reply.


Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

June 28, 2011

The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro
Comptroller General of the United States
Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20548

Dear Mr. Dodaro: