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You Were Warned – But TOO Late – You’re Dead!

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On April Fool’s Day 2008,  I posted the above photo in my Star Ledger “NJ Voices” column under a Headline:

“Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned

Well, it’s no joke.

Today’s Star Ledger reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)  just rebuked the NJ State Police for their slow response in a nuclear drill. (see: N.J. State Police reaction to nuclear disaster emergency drill too slow, FEMA says

TRENTON — In a rare rebuke, federal officials criticized the New Jersey State Police for mistakes they made last month during an emergency drill at the Salem Hope Creek nuclear plant in southern New Jersey.

During a simulated nuclear disaster, it took the State Police 62 minutes to inform the public within 60 miles of the reactors whether to evacuate or seek nearby shelter, about 17 minutes too long for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which said the response was seriously deficient.

So the people living near the nuke plant wouldn’t be notified until over an hour after an accident?

They’d probably be glowing by then.

This poor performance is consistent wth the lousy response to the Gulf, but obviously nuke response must be a lot faster and more aggressive than an oil spill response.

But now that the Gulf disaster has exposed corporate malfeasance and gross government oversight failures, maybe someone will start asking questions about NJ DEP’s chemical and oil spill prevention and emergency response capabilities.

In addition to nuclear plants risks, according to US EPA, NJ has more than 15 chemical plants where an accident would KILL over 100,000 people living nearby. 

DEP Commissioner Martin recently issued a press release touting his new Gulf Spilll Team – maybe someone might call him on the content of those plans to see if DEP can do a little better than the NJ State Police.

In 2005, DEP conducted an emergency response drill testing their oil spill response plans in 13 coastal inlets.

What were the results of that exercise? Has DEP revised plans in light of what they learned in the 2005 exercise?

Has DEP examined the weaknesses in the BP/Coast Guard response to the Gulf disaster? 

Does DEP have adeqaute staff resources and equipment to respond effectively?

Inquiring minds want to know!

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