Callaway Nuclear Plant

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A realistic evaluation of preparedness operations and evacuation planning for a nuclear accident in the United States was a purely hypothetical discussion until March 28th, 1979 when the Three Mile Island (TMI) Power plant in Pennsylvania experienced a partial meltdown of its reactor core. That accident led to an overhaul of the responsibilities of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), charged with oversight of the industry (NRC, 2009), of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tasked with off-site response issues, as well as leading to important changes in how the nation prepares for and plans for the potentially catastrophic events caused by an accidental radiation release.

Prior to TMI, emergency preparedness and response activities for a radiological event were extrapolated from technological or natural disasters. Since then, the study of the TMI incident has led to a more thorough, and consequentially, a more realistic knowledge base regarding protecting the public after a nuclear accident (Zeigler and Johnson, 1984). Although TMI was just one incident, it allowed important observations to be made that will hopefully lead to a safer handling of future accidents by emergency management agencies in all levels of government.

Zeigler and Johnson (1984) found that people do respond to and behave differently from a nuclear threat than from other types of disasters and because of those differences, emergency management should be conducted differently. Their study was primarily concerned with evacuation patterns post-TMI compared with an extensive survey conducted on residents of Long Island who live in close proximity to the Shoreham Nuclear Power Station in Suffolk County, New York (Zeigler and Johnson, 1984).

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...the event of an accident. The adage, “there is no such thing as being over-prepared” fits the circumstances of serving the public in Callaway County.


Cutter, S. and Barnes, K. (1982). Evacuation Behavior and Three Mile Island. Disasters. 6(2), 116-124. Accessed at

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (2009). Backgrounder – Three Mile Island Accident. Accessed at

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (2010). Emergency Preparedness at Nuclear Power Plants. Accessed at

Zeigler, D.J. and Johnson, J.H. (1984). Evacuation behavior in response to nuclear power plant accidents.

Professional Geographer. 36(2), 207 – 215.
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