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Feds Question Northwest Nuclear Plant Evacuation Plans

Energy Northwest
Federal regulators are questioning an evacuation plan change at the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington state.

Last summer officials at the only Northwest nuclear power plant changed their public evacuation plans and the federal government says in a report it wasn’t informed.

Now, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating the operation just outside of Richland, Washington.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission said last June the Columbia Generating Station dropped “shelter in place” as an option on the plant’s evacuation plan. The nuclear power plant operators thought it would be better for people to always evacuate the area of contamination if an accident happened.

But the NRC says there are times when the plant should be recommending sheltering in place for a short while. The Columbia Generating Station said they reported the change last year, but the NRC said they found out months later and issued a violation in early spring.

So far this safety finding from the federal government is only a “two” on a scale of one to four. The final determination will come after more investigation and a public meeting in Texas in the next few weeks.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.