Inequalities of Nuclear Risk Communication Within and Beyond the Evacuation Planning Zone

Abstract

Nuclear power has become a common source of energy for communities around the world. Despite relatively few global incidents, the potential for nuclear disaster always exists. Effective risk communication plays a critical role in reducing the loss of life and property when a nuclear failure arises. An overlooked aspect of existing studies on nuclear risk communication is to evaluate the information sources within and beyond the emergency planning zone (EPZ). To this end, the study has evaluated the effectiveness of risk communication for Arkansas Nuclear One, the only nuclear power plant in Arkansas, US. A structured survey was distributed to 185 local residents, especially to those living within the 10-mile EPZ of the plant. The survey aimed to assess public risk perception, preparedness levels, and the channels through which the information was received. The de facto preparedness knowledge in terms of R-score was quantified, interpolated, and visualized. The results identify the inequalities of demographic, contextual, and spatial factors in dictating risk communication within and beyond the nuclear EPZ. They reveal that the spatial awareness of the EPZ may serve as a better indicator of residents' preparedness level than their residential proximity to the nuclear power plant. The study further suggests that the active acquisition and effective comprehension of locational knowledge in the at-risk communities have significantly improved the preparedness level. This finding sheds new lights on policy recommendations for emergency management departments to proactively distribute health information and alleviate public stresses about the nuclear industry.

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Acknowledgements

The research was funded by the following grants: Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) from Arkansas Department of Higher Education; Arkansas Tech University Professional Development Grant. We appreciate Samuel Canada and John Pryor for data collection in the implementation of the project. Peng Jia, Director of the International Initiative on Spatial Lifecourse Epidemiology (ISLE), thanks Lorentz Center, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the West China School of Public Health in Sichuan University, the International Journal of Epidemiology, The Lancet Planetary Health, and Obesity Reviews, for funding the ISLE and supporting ISLE’s research activities.

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Correspondence to Xiang Chen.

Appendix: Evacuation Knowledge Assessment (EKA)

Appendix: Evacuation Knowledge Assessment (EKA)

The following ten questions (items 13–22 in the survey) were drafted from the ANO emergency instruction brochure (ADH 2016). Correct answers are underlined.

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Chen, X., Frazier, C., Manandhar, R. et al. Inequalities of Nuclear Risk Communication Within and Beyond the Evacuation Planning Zone. Appl. Spatial Analysis 12, 587–604 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12061-018-9257-7

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Keywords

  • Risk communication
  • Nuclear power plant
  • Emergency planning zone
  • Socioeconomic inequalities
  • Emergency preparedness