Following up on last night’s post on lessons learned in the wake of the Japanese earthquake, I’ve got to pass along this post by Chris Bellavita that completely encapsulates my second point about the woeful state of our nuclear risk communication (obviously as part of a larger point about our all-hazards risk communication).
Mr. Bellavita takes us through the thought process of a seasoned homeland security person—one of the experts in the field—living the in the aftermath of the earthquake with family on the US west coast. He reads first from the NRC:
The vapidity of the prose on that page makes me long for ready.gov (whose main page provides links to information about tsunamis, flooding and the 2011 national level exercise).
I’ll look at that later. Right now I want to know more about how the west coast is “not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.”
The NRC’s “Emergency Preparedness and Response” page seems to be mostly information for people who live near nuclear power plants.
In 2011, does living on the same planet as Japan mean I now live near a nuclear power plant?
No, says the NRC.
I have to be within a 10 mile radius before the page will speak to my concerns.
He begins looking for potassium iodide online, just in case, and falls into the seamy world of post-disaster profiteering.
And this is from someone I consider to be an expert in homeland security preparedness planning.
Neglected by his government.
Exposed to the worst of people.
What do you think your grandmother thinks? A single mother of three in Seattle? You think they’re scared?
This is something that can be fixed. And unlike $1.6 billion dollar seawalls or nuclear reactors being shaken and blown to bits, it can be done cheaply. All that’s need is the desire. So, where is it?