What Would a 50-Mile Evacuation Zone Mean for New York?

With the U.S. government urging a 50-mile evacuation zone around the Fukushima plant, Karl Grossman contemplates what a comparable emergency would mean for the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York state.
April 5, 2011, 2pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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Grossman, author of Cover-up: What You are not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power, points out that the disaster in Japan shows that the current 10-mile evacuation zone recommendation from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is inadequate; but that to apply the government's own 50-mile radius to Indian Point would take in some 20 million people, which

"would cover all of Manhattan and much of the rest of New York City and Long Island, as well as large portions of Connecticut and New Jersey...The situation involving a disastrous accident at Indian Point would be particularly intense if the winds were blowing from the north ­which they commonly do­ down the Hudson River Valley enveloping Manhattan in radioactivity. If electricity stopped flowing, people would be trapped in elevators and in other ways many would be frozen in place as the radiation descended.

There would be complete gridlock as attempts were made to evacuate through the two tunnels and on the George Washington Bridge, the only egress from Manhattan in the direction of where people would need to flee ­into the radioactivity in New Jersey and then further west."

Similarly, a million people live within 50 miles of the Millstone nuclear plant on Long Island. Grossman argues that the NRC is a booster of nuclear energy and so has kept the evacuation guidelines deliberately conservative.

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Published on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 in CommonDreams


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