Do You Live Within 50 Miles of a Nuclear Plant?

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey wants to make sure Pennsylvanians living within 50 miles of a nuclear plant know what to do if there's an emergency.

With 80 percent of Pennsylvanians living within 50 miles of a nuclear plant, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to study how residents living more than ten miles from a nuclear power plant would react in the case of an emergency and to ensure that the best procedures are in place to keep all Pennsylvanians safe.

Most Lehigh Valley residents live within 50 miles of the Limerick nuclear plant in Montgomery County. Folks in towns such as Macungie, Emmaus and Coopersburg are only about 25 miles from that plant.

“More than 10 million Pennsylvanians, which is 80 percent of our population, live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant,” wrote Senator Casey. “We need to ensure that appropriate plans are in place and that residents are fully informed about emergency procedures outside of the 10-mile radius.”

A recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report raised concerns about the emergency planning knowledge of residents outside of the 10 mile radius. The GAO released the study in response to Senator Casey’s request for additional information to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place in the event of a disaster at a U.S. nuclear power plant. Senator Casey previously wrote letters to the GAO, FEMA, and the NRC requesting this study in June 2011, which can be found here.

There are five nuclear power plants operating in Pennsylvania. In addition to Limerick, they are: Beaver Valley in Beaver County, Peach Bottom in York County, Susquehanna in Luzerne County and Three Mile Island in Dauphin County.

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be found below:

 The Honorable Allison M. Macfarlane


U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Washington, DC 20555


Dear Chairman Macfarlane:

In the wake of the nuclear power plant accident in Japan, I called on the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) to produce a report on safety preparations and emergency procedures in the event of an incident at a nuclear power plant in the United States. The GAO report, released this month, makes clear that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) must study the public’s understanding of emergency preparedness outside the standard 10-mile emergency planning zone around nuclear power plants.

Specifically, the Federal government must do more to ensure that it fully understands the impact that the “shadow evacuation” of residents outside the 10-mile zone will have on evacuation time estimates and the safety of those people closer to a plant. More than 10 million Pennsylvanians, which is 80% of our population, live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. I urge the NRC to focus on expediency and fully gather the information about knowledge of emergency procedures for people living outside of the 10-mile radius and use the findings to update emergency management planning.

The NRC has a responsibility, working with nuclear power plant operators, to ensure that the right emergency preparedness plans are in place to protect Pennsylvanians in an emergency. My constituents are deeply concerned about what would happen in the event of an emergency at one of the five nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania: Three Mile Island, Susquehanna, Beaver Valley, Peach Bottom and Limerick. They deserve to know that the NRC has in place the most useful standards and regulations for emergency planning.

It is imperative that the NRC focus on this important issue and address these concerns immediately. In order to meet Pennsylvania’s energy security and economic needs, nuclear power plants must continue to produce safe, reliable energy.

Thank you for your attention to these issues. Please report back to me within the next month the steps NRC plans to take to ensure the safety of residents living near nuclear power plants and any measures to increase awareness of emergency procedures. I look forward to working with the Commission in the future.


Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

Fae Danner April 28, 2013 at 02:47 PM
How typical. Bob Casey wants citizens to know what to do in case of a nuclear plant problem. But, apparently, there are no directions. There are admonitions that government entities "must do more" to assure our safety. If it is true that the present can be determined by history, and I believe it is, I won't be holding my breath until we are given direction. And, realistically, I believe the old truism is appropriate here - bend over and kiss your tush goodbye!


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