Nuclear Regulation:

Unique Features of Shoreham Nuclear Plant Emergency Planning

RCED-87-50: Published: Dec 2, 1986. Publicly Released: Jan 2, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the procedures the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) used in preparing, assessing, and testing off-site emergency response planning around the Shoreham Nuclear Power Station to determine whether the procedures were different from those at other commercial nuclear plants.

GAO noted that: (1) NRC requires that a utility seeking an operating license submit an on-site emergency plan for review; (2) affected state and local governments usually prepare and submit the required off-site emergency plans to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for review; (3) NRC then considers the results of the FEMA plan review and its own review in making its overall licensing decision; (4) the Shoreham plant's owner submitted an off-site emergency plan, since the state and the county declined to prepare the plan, based on their determination that unique local conditions made effective emergency planning impossible; (5) Congress specifically authorized NRC to consider off-site emergency plans submitted by utilities in the absence of state and local plans; and (6) NRC has made no final decision on the adequacy of the Shoreham off-site emergency plan. GAO found that, in the review of the Shoreham plan, as compared to other plans: (1) utility personnel tested the plan's effectiveness without state and local participation; (2) FEMA did not require the utility to hold a formal public meeting following the test; and (3) because of the challenge to the utility's legal authority to carry out its plan, FEMA did not provide overall findings on the plan's adequacy. The NRC licensing board will conduct hearings in 1987 to try to resolve several outstanding issues relating to the state and local decisions not to participate in off-site planning.

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