This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Monday, June 27, 2011

Populations at Risk Throughout the US

The Associated Press today released a rather startling report showing the increase in the American population living near nuclear power plants in this country.
About 120 million people, almost 40 percent of all Americans, live within 50 miles of a nuclear plant, according to the AP's analysis of 2010 Census data.
That 50 mile radius is important, because it is what the US government said it would invoke as an evacuation zone in a situation similar to the recent nuclear meltdown in Japan.

In fact, under rules in force for more than 30 years, U.S. communities must by law prepare federally reviewed evacuation plans only for those living within 10 miles of a plant. In a severe accident, most of the early deaths — those from radiation sickness, not cancer — are predicted to occur within a 10-mile radius.
Those living within 50 miles, meanwhile, are covered only by an "emergency ingestion zone," where states are required to make plans to ban contaminated food and water — but not evacuate.
After a May 10 tour at the Indian Point nuclear complex, where two reactors operate just 25 miles from New York City's northern border, Jaczko said the 10-mile rule was merely a "planning standard." He said decisions on what to do in the "unlikely event" of an accident would be based on circumstances. "So if we needed to take action beyond 10 miles, that's certainly what would be recommended."
If a 50-mile order were ever issued for Indian Point, it would take in about 17.3 million people — 6 percent of all Americans, according to an AP population analysis. That would include parts of New Jersey and Connecticut and all of New York City, except for a chunk of Staten Island.
Such a mass exodus would be an "enormous challenge" — and a historic feat, said Kelly McKinney, New York City's deputy commissioner of preparedness.
"At no time in the history of man," he said, "has anyone tried to move 17 million people in 48 hours."
I have just offered a few tidbits from this detailed report, and none of the remaining information is even remotely reassuring. We seem to be rather complacently sitting around in denial about what could happen if something went wrong with any one of these nuclear plants. 

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