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Washtenaw County’s preparations – in the event of a nuclear disaster

Here’s what could happen in a nuclear disaster in Washtenaw County, By Ryan Stanton | ryanstanton@mlive.com ANN ARBOR, MI , 1 Feb 19, – As Ann Arbor considers calling on the state and federal governments to better prepare for nuclear disaster, county officials note there already are some emergency plans in place.

Washtenaw County does not stockpile potassium iodide as some city officials are calling for in a proposed resolution, said Dave Halteman, the county’s emergency services director.

But in the event of an incident such as a meltdown at the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in southeast Michigan, the county would reach out to the state’s Emergency Operations Center to initiate access to a national pharmaceutical stockpile through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This plan has been in place for many years and the CDC stockpiles these pharmaceuticals in strategic locations all over the country,” Halteman said.

“However, given the potential time lapse in getting access to the national stockpile, I will continue to monitor Ann Arbor’s initiative to see how it might work on a county level.”

City Council will consider a resolution Monday, Feb. 4 calling for strengthening local emergency planning by stockpiling nonprescription potassium iodide in communities within 50 miles of the Fermi 2 plant, which is roughly 30 miles from Ann Arbor along Lake Erie.

The resolution would direct the city’s lobbying team to advocate to the state and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to provide the same level of KI protection to residents here as Canadian authorities provide to Ontario residents within 50 miles of the Fermi 2 plant.

The American Thyroid Association has called for pre-distribution of potassium iodide, also known as KI, to households within a 10-mile radius of nuclear power plants such as Fermi 2, and stockpiling it in public facilities such as schools, hospitals, clinics, post offices and police and fire stations in up to a 50-mile radius.

Timely ingestion of KI can reduce the effects of radiation and help prevent thyroid cancer in the event of a nuclear fallout, notes the resolution sponsored by Council Members Anne Bannister, D-1st Ward, and Chip Smith, D-5th Ward.

Without a local stockpile, it could take eight to 12 hours for CDC supplies to arrive, depending on the event, said Cindra James, the county’s public health preparedness administrator.

In some cases, it could be sooner based on local supplies, James said, noting the federal government has caches stockpiled “at various unknown locations that we aren’t privy to,” but those supplies can be accessed depending on need.

As far as potential evacuation of the county if there was a nuclear disaster, there’s no specific plan, but the county would coordinate with the state police and local law enforcement to close roads leading toward any hazard and redirect traffic away from the affected area, Halteman said.

The county’s outdoor warning sirens also would be activated followed by an emergency alert system message to inform the public via the media of the hazard and what actions to take, he said.

“We would also reach out to our transportation partners here in Washtenaw County to assist moving those without transportation,” he said, noting that could include the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and local school bus systems.

“Certainly the response would be scaled up or down to accommodate the size of the evacuation area,” Halteman said…….. https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2019/02/heres-what-could-happen-in-a-nuclear-disaster-in-washtenaw-county.html

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February 2, 2019 - Posted by | safety, USA

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