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#281396 - 07/20/16 04:24 PM Living near a nuclear power plant
Jesselp Offline
What's Next?

Registered: 07/19/07
Posts: 263
Loc: New York
Hello folks! Long time, no post.

My wife and I are considering moving our family to a more rural area. We currently live on the coast of Nassau County, NY (Long Island), just outside of New York City. We have identified the area of Putnam County, NY, and specifically the area around Cold Spring, NY, as an area we might like to live in. Good public schools, easy access to outdoors recreation, larger house plots, etc.

One aspect of the area we cannot wrap our heads around is its proximity to the Indian Point nuclear power plant. For those who do not know, this is a nuclear plan located in Westchester County, NY, that is about 13-15 miles away from the area we are looking at (and a little over 50 miles from where we are now).

One of the reasons we are considering the move is that we don't know how sustainable living on a barrier island in the Atlantic is going to be. We had a very close call with Superstorm Sandy, and would rather not go through that again. But it seems to be a polls errand to move out or hurricane danger and into nuclear danger.

So the question is: How dangerous is it to live 15 miles or less from a nuclear power plant? If I moved there, what additional preps or precautions would I want to take to keep my family safe if anything went wrong (or am I so close that my preps really wouldn't matter!) I ask this without making any value judgement about nuclear power. I'm trying to figure out if I should cross this area - which we really like - off of our list.

Thanks for the advice!
A blog about adventure
in and around New York

#281399 - 07/20/16 05:29 PM Re: Living near a nuclear power plant [Re: Jesselp]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 857
Loc: Colorado
There have been far more hurricane disasters wreck things and immediately kill people than nuke plants.

Are you locating upwind or downwind from the plant? Downwind would be slightly more likely to be a problem (2 in a million?) vs upwind (1 in a million?)

I personally wouldn't worry much about it. But then again, I spent 5 years on nuclear submarines and have above-average knowledge on the topic.

Just for background, the US Navy has a reactor training facility at Ballston Spa, NY. (near Saratoga Springs) People would drive up from NYC with empty containers in order to capture and take home the "mineral water" that flowed from the city fountain. That "mineral water" was thousands and thousands of times "hotter" than the processed water that the reactor facility put into the streams.

We humans are often more afraid of things we don't understand but which are actually low risk than we are of things we've grown used to such as 2 lane 55 mph roads shared with texting or drunk drivers.

To prep you might want to buy a couple of low-range detectors and maybe ask around about radiological health courses to take from the local community college. I have an old but functional Civil Defense radiac and a couple of personal dosimeters in my preparedness stash. (but that's just because I know how to use them)

#281400 - 07/20/16 05:57 PM Re: Living near a nuclear power plant [Re: unimogbert]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5099
Originally Posted By: unimogbert
...To prep you might want to buy a couple of low-range detectors and maybe ask around about radiological health courses to take from the local community college. I have an old but functional Civil Defense radiac and a couple of personal dosimeters in my preparedness stash. (but that's just because I know how to use them)
LOL at myself. When Fukushima had its incident a while back I thought it might be prudent to be able to check for an increase in radioactive particles. So I bought one of the Civil Defense detectors before I did my homework and realized it actually takes a fairly high level of radioactivity to get the needle to move. So I bought a different model designed to detect much lower radioactivity levels. That big yellow thing was designed to check for radioactive fallout following a nuclear weapon exchange, not the low levels you associate with leakage from a reactor across the Pacific.

Since you are concerned, maybe consider getting a detector that can measure low levels and take a reading where you currently live and then take readings near where you are thinking about moving. You'll probably find there's not much difference.

#281401 - 07/20/16 06:11 PM Re: Living near a nuclear power plant [Re: Jesselp]
MoBOB Offline

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 1219
Loc: here
This post is from a guy who as absolutely no experience with nuclear stuff except for occasionally seeing some nuke bombs when I was in the Air Force. My view would be that I would be more concerned if I lived near a railroad corridor or on the approach/departure of a major airport. The railroad moves all kinds of really nasty stuff and most aircraft accidents happen within a few miles of the airport. Also, living near roads that transport gasoline and other dangerous materials can be dangerous. Basically, just about anywhere you are going to live is going to a certain level of hazard. All things considered, I would have no problem with living near a nuclear power facility instead of near a railroad.
"Its not a matter of being ready as it is being prepared" -- B. E. J. Taylor

#281402 - 07/20/16 06:24 PM Re: Living near a nuclear power plant [Re: Russ]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 857
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: Russ
So I bought a different model designed to detect much lower radioactivity levels. That big yellow thing was designed to check for radioactive fallout following a nuclear weapon exchange, not the low levels you associate with leakage from a reactor across the Pacific.

When I was at Ballston Spa I think it was the Chinese had done an open air nuke bomb test a month or two earlier. The instructors described going out to the parking lot and taking swipes on the hoods of cars and counting them. Detectable fallout. But those were mil-spec govt instruments just like what we had on the boat. On the boat we had some counters that were so sensitive that there were procedures for resetting their alarm thresholds in the event that an atmospheric inversion in port were to trap radon particles in the air we were breathing from outside.

To reiterate, it's the stuff we don't know much about or that the Press sensationalizes that scares us when the real risk is something we pretty much ignore every day because we've just become used to it.

#281404 - 07/20/16 06:45 PM Re: Living near a nuclear power plant [Re: Jesselp]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 830
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Fukushima did a huge amount of property damage and left contaminated property that will have to be dealt with over decades, and probably longer. But, as Wikipedia points out:

"The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has no confirmed casualties from radiation exposure, though six workers died due to various reasons, including cardiovascular disease, during the containment efforts or work to stabilize the Earthquake and Tsunami damage to the site." (my emphasis added)

IMO, the long term chance of suffering major property loss, and potential loss of life, is far greater from Hurricanes. This is because your present house is on very vulnerable property, and Hurricanes recur on a regular basis.

OTOH, while living near the nuclear plant might be scary, major nuclear plant accidents that do damage outside of the containment facility and release significant amounts of radiation are rare. In my lifetime, I can only remember 3 major problems: 1) Three Mile Island; little or no external damage, some minor radiation escaped (more fear than actual damage); 2) Chernobyl, lots of damage at the reactor, contamination of large areas, some deaths immediately, some expected long term; 3) Fukushima, similar effects as Chernobyl, but no immediate radiation deaths and long term effects of the radiation unknown (note that two of the three were outside the U.S.). A quick search indicates that about 442 nuclear power plants are presently in operation worldwide. So in the 50-60 years of using these things, there have been 2 catastrophic failures with some deaths. How much damage and deaths from Hurricanes and Typhoons has there been in the same 50-60 years? How many deaths in plane crashes? Car crashes?

It sounds like where you want to live is really a near ideal place. IMO, I would not pass on that chance due to fear of the nuclear power plant.
"Better is the enemy of good enough."

#281405 - 07/20/16 06:56 PM Re: Living near a nuclear power plant [Re: Jesselp]
chaosmagnet Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3117
Loc: USA
Hurricanes are no fun for me, and they can cause widespread disruption. If you're affected by one, you may very well be waiting quite a while for help.

Earthquakes have those disadvantages and also are not typically forecasted with any precision or accuracy.

For myself, I would prefer to stay away from areas where those disasters are more common as a higher priority than staying away from US nuclear power facilities.

#281408 - 07/20/16 08:13 PM Re: Living near a nuclear power plant [Re: Jesselp]
Dagny Offline

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
I'm presently in a house 10 miles from a nuclear power plant and am here frequently, particularly during summer. I have potassium iodide tablets in the house and in my go-bag (which goes with me on all overnight road trips). Those tablets and a full tank of gas are the best preps I am aware of for living near a nuclear power plant.


Potassium Iodide tablets.


A real-life case-study of a nuclear power plant shutting down during a natural disaster can be found in the experience of the 2011 5.8 Virginia earthquake that shook the entire east coast.

That quake's epicenter was 11 miles from North Anna Nuclear Power Plant -- which is 80 miles south of Washington, D.C. Studying that shut-down and re-start process and the accompanying news articles and Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports could inform your decision on moving.



#281409 - 07/20/16 08:19 PM Re: Living near a nuclear power plant [Re: chaosmagnet]
adam2 Offline

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 434
Loc: Somerset UK
Under normal conditions the extra radiation dose that you will receive from living near a nuclear power plant is negligible.
This is not just my opinion but is an observed fact that may be confirmed by anyone with a low range Geiger counter.

That leaves the very very small risk of a bad blow up. IMHO this risk is so small that it may be ALMOST ignored.

NOT completely ignored though ! It would be prudent to equip yourself with at least two Geiger counters that read from normal background levels up to a few thousand times normal background. You need at least two and preferably three instruments so as to reduce the risk of a faulty instrument misleading you.

A fallout shelter stocked with emergency food, water, medical supplies and defensive equipment MIGHT be worth it, especially as such a facility could be literally a life saver in emergencies that are not nuclear related.
Nothing elaborate is required, a small room with thick concrete walls and no outside walls gives considerable protection.

#281422 - 07/21/16 03:37 AM Re: Living near a nuclear power plant [Re: Jesselp]
acropolis5 Offline

Registered: 06/18/06
Posts: 355
I live in an apartment building in the inner ring of the NY Metro Area. During Sandy we suffered a 6 day power outage but we had water and gas service. 911 was a bit scary. But hey, the crime in NYC in the '60s & '70s , while I was in college, was a much greater risk to my life & limb. Thankfully, that kind of crime is a distant memory.

If I lived at the shore or flood lands, I would consider moving to higher ground because affordable flood insurance is a commodity whose time has past,and with Global Warming, severe storms and floods will rapidly intensify. I also live uphill from and about 1.5 miles distance from an active freight RR track which carries oil trains. So no fear of flood of fire,albeit there is some (small I think) chance of toxic smoke in a catastrophic incident. I'm also within 15 miles of Indian Point and within closer range to infrastructure that could reasonably considered terror targets.

I've lived here all my life and I like it. I'm not moving. Thus, I accept the risk. I can be completely self sufficient for about 2-4 weeks if my gravity fed water holds out. Less without city water. It wouldn't be comfortable, but it would be survivable. I believe that's long enough to expect relief to come through.

I have no real evac plan and nowhere to run to, in any event. However, except for those living much further out from Manhattan, in an area not in an adjoining another metro area, AFTER a catastrophic event, you don't, IMO, stand much chance of a successful bug- out. All transport would be gridlocked or shutdown. If it really became a major Black Swan event, e.g. a North Korean truck borne atomic attack on NYC, the walkers would become hungry mobs and it would be chaos and fighting. Bugging-in is the most sensible option. That's why I am a strong supporter of improved civilian government disaster response and relief . Just call me a Big Government believer for responding to large or small catastrophes.

In any event, my long way round to my point is that there is nowhere within about 50-100 miles of the Megalopolis we call NYC/Northern NJ/Lower Connecticut & Long Island where you can hope to survive a long term bug out , without government disaster relief in operation. That said, I wouldn't live any closer to a nuke plant than I am already. My fear is a fallout cloud from an Oyster Creek type event or a terrorist attack. That would force me and mine to be refugees. A harrowing thought? On the other hand, maybe that's just my personal paranoia.

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