GAO report questions U.S. nuclear evacuation plans

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) challenges fundamental assumptions in the U.S.’ community readiness plans for nuclear emergencies, says the Associated Press.

According to the AP, which received an advanced copy of the document before it was released publicly, the report questions 30 years of evacuation plans, which assume that only people within the 10-mile evacuation zone need to leave the area. The report says people living beyond the official zone might be frightened by the prospect of radiation spreading beyond the official zone and flee the area without official prompting, which would result in clogged roads and other delays hampering the evacuation effort as a whole.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has disputed the findings. The GAO report was reportedly prepared at the request of four U.S. senators, following a lengthy investigative series from the AP in which the issue of so-called “shadow evacuations” and related weaknesses in nuclear accident response plans was raised.

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