Emergency Preparedness Around the Rancho Seco Nuclear Powerplant:

A Case Study

EMD-79-103: Published: Oct 2, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 12, 1979.

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GAO was requested to review the emergency preparedness of the localities surrounding the Rancho Seco nuclear powerplant near Sacramento, California. The nuclear emergency preparedness actions of the California Office of Emergency Services of Sacramento and San Joaquin Counties and the operating utility, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District were reviewed. Nuclear emergency preparedness was discussed with the emergency coordinator of Amador and Calaveras Counties. GAO reviewed Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) emergency preparedness requirements and evaluated Federal agency capabilities and preparedness to assist in the event of a nuclear accident at Rancho Seco.

Although state and county emergency-response plans have been developed for Rancho Seco based on NRC criteria, the plans have been tested only on a limited basis. State and local authorities appear to have adequate coordination with respect to handling nuclear emergencies, but local authorities would need state and federal assistance to handle a major nuclear emergency. While local residents have not been routinely informed of evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency, several public meetings were held following the Three Mile Island incident. Given the worst possible accident under the worst meteorological conditions, all potentially affected areas would not have adequate plans. For this type of accident the planning area would include 44 counties in California and several in Nevada with an affected population of over 8 million people.

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