Evacuations after Severe Nuclear Accidents. This article discusses three related matters – The experience of evacuations during the Fukushima nuclear disaster; Whether lengthy evacuations from large cities are feasible? Some emergency plans for evacuations in North America. If another severe nuclear accident, such as Windscale (in 1957), Chernobyl (1986) or Fukushima (2011) were to occur then the adverse health effects would primarily depend on wind direction and on the nature of the accident. The main responses to a nuclear disaster are shelter, evacuation and stable iodine prophylaxis. The most important, in terms of preventing future cancer epidemics, is evacuation. This article is based on North American evacuation plans. Little is known of UK emergency evacuation plans as few, if any, are publicly available. In North American plans, if a severe nuclear accident were to occur, able citizens would be requested to leave designated evacuation/no entry zones under their own steam and to find accommodation with family and friends in uncontaminated areas. At the same time, Government authorities would evacuate prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, care homes and certain schools. Little, if any, consideration seems to have been given to how long such evacuations would last. For example, the large majority of the 160,000 people who left or were evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, Japan during the accident in March 2011 are still living outside the Prefecture. Many are living in makeshift shelters eg shipping containers or prefab houses. At present, the Japanese Government is attempting to force evacuees (by withdrawing state compensation) to return to less contaminated areas, with little success. Currently, ~7 years after the accident, an area of about 1,000 square km is still subject to evacuation and no entry orders. This compares with the area of 2,700 square km still evacuated and subject to no or restricted entry at Chernobyl ~32 years after the accident.
Ian Fairlie 27th Jan 2018 read more »
Because of the risk of possible terrorist attacks at the 15 UK nuclear reactors and >20 nuclear reactors in nearby countries, and because of the advanced ages of UK nuclear reactors, there is a need for greater preparedness to deal with nuclear accidents and incidents. For these reasons, in June 2016, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee set up an Inquiry on Science in Emergencies: chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents. However neither the Committee’s subsequent poor Report nor the Government’s anodyne response dealt with the real issues in a forthright and open matter. In particular, they discussed neither the problems of evacuations (which I have discussed) nor the scientific evidence which amply supports the pre-distribution of stable iodine as occurs in most other EU countries. In the event of a nuclear accident or incident, the three main responses are shelter, evacuation, and stable iodine prophylaxis. This article deals solely with iodine prophylaxis.
Ian Fairlie 29th Jan 2018 read more »