253867 Challenges of evacuating impacted populations In the event of nuclear reactor emergencies

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:50 PM

Andrew S. Kanter, MD, MPH , Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington, DC
The current official U.S. emergency evacuation zone for nuclear reactor accidents is 10 miles (16.1 km). Five days after the Fukushima incident began and based on software simulations, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommended a 50-mile (80.5 km) evacuation zone for U.S. citizens who might be near Fukushima. Considering the Fukushima and Chernobyl experiences, the official 10-mile zone in the U.S. is probably not adequate. Physicians for Social Responsibility ran simulations of a loss of coolant accident for the Braidwood reactor near Chicago. The case study predicted that 20,000 people would receive lethal doses of radiation and 200,000 would suffer from radiation sickness. When one considers all the nuclear plants in the US and on the border of Canada, over 111 million people - 1/3 of the population of the US lives within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor. Emergency evacuation of the populations around nuclear reactors in the U.S. would be challenging. It is clear that the authorities and health care system would not be able to properly protect the health of all the people and vulnerable populations which would need to be moved in the case of such an accident, let alone the massive number of injured, or potentially injured and symptomatic victims. These challenges need to be incorporated into public policy decision-making about U.S. energy choices.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the nature and extent of health consequences of a nuclear reactor emergency in the US; Analyze the associated challenges of population-evacuation; and Evaluate the energy-policy implications of these findings.

Keywords: Environmental Health Hazards, Radiation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a physician with public health training and expertise and have authored the material that will be presented which is published in, The Lessons of Fukushima and Chernobyl for U.S. Public Health, 2011, by Physicians for Social Responsibility
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.