NRC Pares Evacuations, Disaster Drills Near U.S. Nuclear Plants

"Without fanfare, the nation's nuclear power regulators have overhauled community emergency planning for the first time in more than three decades, requiring fewer exercises for major accidents and recommending that fewer people be evacuated right away."

"The revamp, the first since the program began after Three Mile Island in 1979, also eliminates a requirement that local responders always practice for a release of radiation.

At least four years in the works, the changes appear to clash with more recent lessons of last year's reactor crisis in Japan.

Under the new rules, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which run the program together, have added one new exercise: More than a decade after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, state and community police will now take part in exercises that prepare for a possible assault on their local plant.

Still, some emergency officials say this new exercise doesn't go far enough."

Jeff Donn reports for the Associated Press May 16, 2012.

Source: AP, 05/16/2012