Populations around US nuke plants soar

June 27, 2011 2:32:30 AM PDT
An Associated Press investigation finds exploding populations around U.S. nuclear power plants -- yet no standard for how quickly people must be evacuated in an accident.

A computer-assisted analysis shows that populations within 10 miles of the sites have grown as much as 4 1/2 times since 1980.

Yet the yearlong investigation finds that government and industry have paid little heed. They have allowed the plants to run at higher power, which poses more danger in an accident.

Some estimates of evacuation times have not been updated in decades. And emergency plans would direct residents to flee on antiquated, two-lane roads that clog hopelessly at rush hour.

Also, evacuation zones have remained frozen at a 10-mile radius from each plant since they were set in 1978 -- before the accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and then in Japan earlier this year.

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