Adding to the previous reports’ deep concerns about neglected maintenance and regulators who scale back requirements rather than enforce them, the newest installment demonstrates that regulators have basically ignored massive population growth in many areas around nuclear power plant sites.
Part of the “safety planning” (such as it was) for nuclear plant siting was to place the plants in relatively remote areas (still far too close to major population centers, but usually 20-50 miles away). But suburban/exurban infill has changed the picture dramatically. Evacuation plans designed to move out a rural population have in most cases never been upgraded to deal with the new realities.
As one of many examples cited in the study, a 10-mile radius around Florida’s two-reactor Saint Lucie complex had only 43,332 residents in 1980; now, the population is 202,010 (more than 4-1/2 times as large).
Following the Fukushima accidents, the US government recommended that its citizens living closer than 50 miles evacuate. If there were a 50-mile evacuation at Indian Point, 24 miles north of New York City, 17 million people in three different states would be affected. Ever try to get out of NYC at rush hour? This would be far worse. Even the 268,906 who live within 10 miles of the plant would be quite challenging to evacuate.
HOW have we allowed this madness to continue?