Monroe, Michigan left unprotected by lack of emergency planning


Site of a near catastrophic meltdown in 1966, the Fermi plant has a notorious history. New findings indicate emergency and evacuation planning for the surrounding community are dangerously inadequate.

FERMI nuke plant Monroe, MI
MONROE, MI — Emergency and evacuation planning related to radiological incidents at the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station (Fermi Plant) located in Frenchtown Charter Township, Michigan are dangerously inadequate, according to an investigation by Disaster Accountability Project (DAP). The Fermi Plant is less than 50 miles from both Detroit, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio.

Federal regulations require “emergency planning zones” or EPZs within 10 miles of U.S. nuclear power plants. Jurisdictions located in EPZs must develop evacuation protocols for responding to radiological incidents and provide residents living within these zones annual information on protective actions for radiological emergencies.

Outside the 10-mile zones, local governments are not required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to plan for radiological emergency evacuations, or to educate the general public on what to do in the event of a radiological emergency.

The 10-mile guidelines remain unchanged after the March 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster, where Japan evacuated residents within a 19-mile radius and the NRC recommended a 50-mile evacuation zone for American citizens.

In the event of an emergency, many residents living beyond the 10-mile “emergency planning zone” of the Fermi Plant are likely to voluntarily evacuate. According to a 2013 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, without planning and regular public information, such voluntary “shadow evacuations” can complicate the evacuation of people most immediately in danger, for instance, by putting additional traffic on roadways. In response, the NRC claimed that additional planning is unnecessary, emphasizing that “[s]tate and local authorities have a robust capacity to effectively evacuate the public in response to life-threatening emergencies.”


In August 2015, DAP contacted 22 jurisdictions within a 50-mile radius of the Fermi Plant, seeking documents and information related to radiological preparedness, including evacuation planning. Only 19 of these jurisdictions provided any kind of a response. The 22 jurisdictions DAP contacted are: in Michigan, Monroe County, Lenawee County, Washtenaw County, City of Detroit, Wayne County, City of Dearborn, City of Livonia, City of Ann Arbor, Oakland County, Macomb County, Warren County, Livingston County, and Sterling Heights; in Ohio, Lucas County, City of Toledo, Ottawa County, Wood County, Sandusky County, Fulton County, Erie County, Henry County, and Seneca County.

Key findings include:

The only jurisdiction within 10 miles of the Fermi Plant and 1 out of 21 jurisdictions between 10-50 miles of the Fermi Plant reported providing educational materials or plans to residents regarding how to respond to a radiological incident at that plant.

8 out of 22 (36%) of the jurisdictions provided all-hazard emergency plans and/or evacuation plans.

Only 1 out of 22 (5%) of the jurisdictions provided emergency plans specific to radiological incidents at the Fermi Plant.

No jurisdiction furnished a shadow evacuation plan or study.

DAP agrees with the GAO report’s conclusion that further study is required to understand the level of public knowledge and the likely public reaction to a nuclear plant emergency, beyond the current 10-mile emergency planning zone.

Since the NRC recommended a 50-mile evacuation zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster, a radiation spill at the Fermi Plant would likely result in a “shadow evacuation” of citizens beyond a 10-mile radius, for which citizens and disaster response teams are unprepared.

“Most communities situated ten or more miles from nuclear power plants do not plan for radiological emergencies simply because Washington doesn’t require it,” said Ben Smilowitz, Executive Director, Disaster Accountability Project. “Most people who live 20, 30, or 40 miles away from plants do not realize that their communities are only adhering to bare-minimum standards for radiological emergency preparedness.”

“This report’s findings should serve as a wake-up call to local communities that if Washington is not going to demand emergency planning, residents should demand it themselves. We hope residents of these communities will call on their local governments to do more, regardless of any mandate from Washington,” Smilowitz said.

“We should learn the lessons of past disasters and not repeat them. In the five years since Fukushima, we had an opportunity to prepare communities for the unexpected. Over 100 million Americans are at greater risk because of a failure to plan.”

After Fukushima
After Fukushima


After an earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the Japanese Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011, over 150,000 Japanese citizens were evacuated within 19 miles of the stricken plant due to the presence of radiological plumes. The NRC recommended that U.S. citizens evacuate from as far as 50 miles of the plant. This distance exceeds the current mandatory planning zone of 10-miles, and the NRC has not satisfactorily reconciled this disparity between current planning and real-world guidance.

DAP’s series of reports on U.S. radiological evacuation planning can be found at

The nonprofit Disaster Accountability Project saves lives and reduces suffering after disasters by maximizing the impact of preparedness, response and relief through citizen oversight and engagement, policy research and advocacy, and public education. Connect with Disaster Accountability Project at

Great Lakes Health Banner

one panel

one panel

one panel

one panel

photos by Kay Cumbow
Click the photo for a larger view

You may also see more Great Lakes Health Banner panels in our photo album here and here.

Contributions toward this project will be appreciated and are tax deductible under IRS rules. A contribution of $12 or more will underwrite a square for the Banner.

Donate now, using PayPal.  You may donate with your credit card using
PayPal, a PayPal account is not required.

You also may contribute by sending a donation in the form of a check payable to:

Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination
8735 Maple Grove Road
Lake, MI 48632-9511

Please note Great Lakes Health Banner on the check.
Thank You!

More about the Great Lakes Health Banner Project

The magnificent Great Lakes Health Banner, representing environmental health
concerns of approximately 80 diverse Great Lakes organizations was inspired by
the first Health Banner, which was created by the Environmental Health Network,
a national group based in Louisiana.

The Great Lakes Health Banner was formally introduced at CACC’s Backyard
ECO-Conference in 1991. This powerful visual speaks for the protection of
the health of our communities and the Great Lakes Watershed. Gretchen
Michaels, CACC Director, has teamed with Maryann Stroup of Families for
Environmental Health Awareness, the project’s original director, to bring new life to this important grassroots art project.

Contributions toward this project will be appreciated and are tax deductible under IRS rules. A contribution of $12 or more will underwrite a square for the Banner.

Mission Statement

The Great Lakes Health Banner Project seeks to promote and protect the health of people of Michigan by demanding and implementing institutional change, reform and accountability of the Michigan Department of Public Health, the Legislature and the Governor. These agencies and individuals have constitutionally and legislatively imposed duty to protect the health of Michigan citizens under the Michigan Constitution and the Michigan Public Health Code.
We will do this by inviting citizens throughout the Bioregion to join together for the mutual goals of:

  1. Preventing environmental disease and death
  2. Empowering communities to have an impact on decisions that effect environmental health by providing tools to achieve institutional change
  3. Increasing public awareness of illness and death associated with environmental health hazards

Origin of the Health Banner Project – 1989

Linda King, Director of the Environmental Health Network (nat. Org. based in Louisiana) saw tremendous health needs in workers and communities at large that should have been acknowledged not ignored, addressed not dismissed. State after state she confirmed that public health laws were not being enforced by local, state and federal agencies or were superficial at best in so many cases.

Community organizations throughout Louisiana were tired and frustrated by “environmental policies” which were not protecting the people, while allowing air, land, and water pollution to continue. They created the first Health Banner and took it to Baton Rouge to present “The Louisiana State of the Health Report” to their health department.

Great lakes Health Banner Project –1991

This wonderfully conceived grassroots art project was formally introduced at C.A.C.C.’s Backyard Eco Conference in 1991. Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination recognized the value of the Great Lakes Health Banner immediately. Thanks to the core group of volunteers, The Banner Project continues to provide a strong visual statement of determination and unity in our Bioregion. The Original Team included:

  • Maryann Stroup–Director of the project – Families for Environmental Health Awareness
  • Florence Wessel – Maryann’s mother and seamstress
  • Liz Davies– Writer and Communications expertise
  • Joan D’Argo – Greenpeace International
  • David Dempsey & Lawton Jackson- Clean Water Action
  • Tracy Easthope – Ecology Center, Ann Arbor
  • Carol Rames & Lorraine Kulhanek- TRACC
  • Paul and Judy Vandenberg
  • Butch and Sally Lamphear
  • And numerous others.

Growth, Travels, Hibernation, Re-immersion

The Banner Project has grown and now represents more than eighty diverse organizations, environmental groups, communities, clubs, and a broad variety of creative thinkers from our Bioregion. These groups have been adding 3 foot panels which have been sewn on to each other. The Banner is impressive in its message, size, and authenticity. It has survived disappointment, apathy and denial by many politicians, industries, and those of our species in general.

Responsible groups have displayed The Banner at Rallies, Civic Events, Ecology Centers, Conferences, Schools, Earth Day Celebrations, State Capitals, Health Departments, Shorelines and gatherings of many kinds.

Update 2012

Gretchen Michaels is the C.A.C.C. representative who has recently been working with Maryann Stroup to update, inventory and expand the exposure of The Banner Project. Maryann and Gretchen encourage your group to display all, or portions of, The Banner at events in your area. They also support and coordinate efforts to add more panels. If your organization would be interested in adding a 3 foot panel representing your local environmental concerns, materials and further details can be provided.


Gretchen at 248-628-7463
Kay at 810-346-4513
email Kay Cumbow

Contributions toward this project will be appreciated and are tax deductible under IRS rules. A contribution of $12 or more will underwrite a square for the Banner.

Donate now, using PayPal.  You may donate with your credit card using
PayPal, a PayPal account is not required.

Pay with PayPal

You also may contribute by sending a donation in the form of a check payable to:

Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination
8735 Maple Grove Road
Lake, MI 48632-9511

Please note Great Lakes Health Banner on the check.
Thank You!