Risks and Tradeoffs

In disaster planning, there's always the challenge of balancing likelihood and severity.  The Massachusetts House of Representatives is in the process of just such a debate, as they consider a bill to extend the emergency planning zone surrounding Seabrook Station nuclear power plant, from a 10 mile radius to 50 miles around the plant, according to an article on Fosters.com.

The difference in resources is notable within and outside of the emergency zone.  Within, first responders receive special training, siren equipment and a supply of potassium iodide pills to be dispersed to counteract some of the health problems caused by exposure to radiation. Outside of the zone, these items are not mandated.

Much of the debate for the expansion of the zone center around the response to the meltdown at Fukushima, where American citizens were encouraged to evacuate to at least 50 miles from the site, according to the article.

As observed by Massachusetts state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, for towns outside the 10-mile radius, "they would not and do not have requirements to have an emergency response in place in the event of a radiological emergency.  Truly, if there ever was one, [danger] depends on which way the wind blows, not an arbitrary number in terms of [miles].”

In opposition to the expansion, Director of the New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Perry Plummer voices support of the existing planning, noting that towns outside of the 10 mile zone have annually reviewed evacuation plans in place, in the unlikely event of a radioactive plume: “The chance of a full community evacuation from Seabrook outside the 10-mile radius is very, very low.  [The 10-mile radius] is a national standard. It’s a nationally validated standard."


For more details on the debate between safety and risk, please follow the link below.