3-15-11: Maryland’s Emergency Nuclear Plans
In Fukushima, Japan, dangerous levels of radiation are escaping into the air at the nuclear plant after an explosion occurred. Leaders there are telling people within 20 miles of the nuclear plant to stay indoors.
Despite these events, the Obama administration has said it’s not backing away from pursuing nuclear power as an energy source.
Yesterday, we asked Governor Martin O’Malley’s office about whether he would like to move forward with plans for Calvert Cliffs 3. A spokesman for the governor, Shaun Adamec, wrote back in an email:
The short answer is yes. Calvert Cliffs is built to withstand an earthquake of the magnitude that is possible in our area. State emergency response exercises yearly, and have used an earthquake scenario before. We have plans that deal specifically with the plant and immediate population (as required by federal law) and there are warning systems in place and pre-determined evacuation plans. We have identified 10 mile plume zones and ingestion zones. Annual outreach with community is done and they are familiar with the plans. All this is to say that the Governor would expect and insist that such plans also be in place for Calvert Cliffs 3.
Sheilah discusses emergency preparedness in greater detail with Richard Muth, director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, and Susan Shaw, President of Board of County Commissioners for Calvert County. She lives in Huntingtown, about 20 miles north of Lusby, where the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plants are located.
A note on the conversation: Director Muth told us that the biggest earthquake recorded in Maryland was a 3.0 magnitude one, around the turn of the last century… and that Calvert Cliffs was designed to withstand a 4.5 magnitude earthquake. Earthquakes are measured in logarithms, so according to the U. S. Geological Survey, a 4.5 earthquake is 31.622 times bigger than a 3.0, and 177.827 times stronger.