Are States Prepared for Response to Nuclear Disasters?

According to a March 16 article in  Governing Magazine Online, the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continues to intensify the catastrophe there, but most U.S. states wouldn’t be able to handle such a nuclear plant crisis.

A new survey of state health departments found gaps in states’ disaster preparedness when it comes to radiation, including little or no planning for exposure assessments in the wake of an emergency incident. The 38 state health departments that responded to the survey include 26 states with nuclear power plants — 45 percent of them had no response for a nuclear disaster. The study, published March 14 in the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness Journal produced by the American Medical Association, concludes with several steps to improve preparation, such as more training and resources at the state and federal levels.

“Without a comprehensive plan, states in which a radiation emergency occurs are likely to mount inefficient, ineffective, inappropriate or tardy responses that could result in [preventable] loss of life,” the authors wrote in the sutdy, “With nearly half of the responding states not having a response plan, a large portion of the U.S. population is at increased risk should a radiological event occur within the country’s borders.”

Here is the full text of the study State-Level Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities

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