In a series of investigative stories, the Associated Press (AP) has been reporting on the state of the US nuclear industry in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. In this recent report, the AP found that as America’s nuclear power plants have aged, the once-rural areas around them have become far more crowded and much more difficult to evacuate.
Even as nuclear plants run at higher power, posing more danger in the event of an accident, populations around the facilities have swelled as much as 4½ times since 1980. At the same time estimates of evacuation times have not been updated in decades. Emergency plans would direct residents to flee on antiquated, two-lane roads that clog hopelessly at rush hour. And evacuation zones have remained frozen at a 10-mile radius from each plant since they were set in 1978.
With about 120 million people, almost 40 percent of all Americans, living within 50 miles of a nuclear plant (using 2010 Census data) this scenario smacks of human tragedy, for any nuclear accident in this country.
Click here to read this segment of AP’s investigative study of Nuclear Power in America.