some say before emergency"
Delaware Voice Column, News Journal 8/28/2000
I recently spoke before
the New Jersey Emergency Management Agency concerning an evacuation plan
in case of a nuclear power plant accident at Salem. I had that privilege
because the New Jersey legislature has made provisions for an annual hearing
to allow the public to voice
The Delaware Emergency Management
Agency is responsible for a 10-mile radius, called the Emergency Planning
Zone. DEMA has plans for three options, depending on the severity
Spontaneous evacuation is not taken into account. Should DEMA order the evacuation of the emergency zone, mass exodus also will have taken place outside the zone by the time emergency personnel arrives. That will prevent those who have been exposed to nuclear effects from getting to designated shelters.
That occurred during the
Three Mile Island accident in 1979 in Pennsylvania. A recent study shows
that the evacuation of pregnant women and preschool children in a five-mile
zone would have involved 3,400 evacuees. But 200,000 people evacuated,
about 39 percent of the
Also not taken into consideration is role conflict. For example, emergency personnel assigned to evacuate students, the elderly, hospitals and prisons might give priority to their families.
Researchers studying the now closed Shoreham nuclear power station questioned bus drivers and volunteer firefighters as to what they would do if evacuation of a 10-mile zone was ordered; 68 percent of 291 firefighters and 73 percent of 264 bus drivers indicated family obligations would take precedence over emergency duties.
During the Three Mile Island accident, conflict extended to nurse, physicians, and technicians. At one local hospital, only six of the 70 doctors scheduled for weekend emergency duty reported for work. A nuclear power plant accident is considerably different from a natural disaster, such as a hurricane. People often have to be prodded to leave scenes of natural disasters. The stakes are much higher after a nuclear accident, and the passage of time does not make the estimates of danger more palatable.
A study recently completed by the Sandia National Laboratory concluded that a worst-case accident at Salem I and II in New Jersey might kill more than 100,000 people.
The officials for the New Jersey Radiological Response Plan were courteous, attentive and met with us privately before the official hearing. There is no provision in Delaware for public participation when those in charge have their meeting. I would hope that someone in the legislature would come forward to introduce a bill that would give us the same opportunity.
Frieda Berryhill, of Heritage
park, was chairwoman of the
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was last updated on January 28, 2001.