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J Emerg Manag. 2015 Mar-Apr;13(2):145-58. doi: 10.5055/jem.2015.0227.

The impact of shadow evacuation on evacuation time estimates for nuclear power plants.

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Vice President of Evacuation & Emergency Planning, KLD Engineering, P.C., Islandia, New York.
GIS Specialist I, KLD Engineering, P.C., Islandia, New York.


A shadow evacuation is the voluntary evacuation of people from areas outside a declared evacuation area. Shadow evacuees can congest roadways and inhibit the egress of those evacuating from an area at risk. Federal regulations stipulate that nuclear power plant (NPP) licensees in the United States must conduct an Evacuation Time Estimate (ETE) study after each decennial census. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published federal guidance for conducting ETE studies in November 2011. This guidance document recommends the consideration of a Shadow Region which extends 5 miles radially beyond the existing 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) for NPPs. The federal guidance also suggests the consideration of the evacuation of 20 percent of the permanent resident population in the Shadow Region in addition to 100 percent of the declared evacuation region within the EPZ when conducting ETE studies. The 20 percent recommendation was questioned in a March 2013 report prepared by the US Government Accountability Office. This article discusses the effects on ETE of increasing the shadow evacuation from 20 to 60 percent for 48 NPPs in the United States. Only five (10 percent) of the 48 sites show a significant increase (30 minutes or greater) in 90th percentile ETE (time to evacuate 90 percent of the population in the EPZ), while seven (15 percent) of the 48 sites show a significant increase in 100th percentile ETE (time to evacuate all population in the EPZ). Study areas that are prone to a significant increase in ETE due to shadow evacuation are classified as one of four types; case studies are presented for one plant of each type to explain why the shadow evacuation significantly affects ETE. A matrix of the four case types can be used by emergency management personnel to predict during planning stages whether the evacuated area is prone to a significant increase in ETE due to shadow evacuation. Potential mitigation tactics that reduce demand (public information) or increase capacity (contraflow, traffic control points, specialized intersection treatments) to offset the impact of shadow evacuation are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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