Old law prevents Washington state from preparing for nuclear disaster

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As North Korea considers a strike against the U.S. territory of Guam, KIRO 7 is looking into the plans to protect Washington residents.

We found a law from 80s is blocking the state's effort to prepare for the worst.

That law actually prevents Washington State Emergency Management from planning for a nuclear strike.

Lawmakers passed it as a symbolic end to the cold war with the Soviet Union.

In the 1950s and 60s during the Cold War, Washington state had a clear plan and places to shelter -- even bunkers built inside Seattle bridges -- in case of nuclear disaster.

But currently, with North Korea's escalating threats with nukes, few people know state law prevents planning for nuclear disaster.

A little known 1984 state law which says "Comprehensive Emergency Management" does not mean preparation for emergency evacuation or relocation of residents in anticipation of nuclear attack.


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State Senator Mark Miloscia has been trying to repeal that old law, which he says enacted in our state during the Reagan era.

“I couldn’t believe how this thing could go on the books,” said Miloscia. “If we ever have to evacuate or relocate citizens due to a nuclear attack or an impending nuclear attack, right now, we can’t plan for that.  It puts like a big stop order on any sort of planning we have to do to prepare for the unthinkable.”

Hawaii has a nuclear disaster plan which may include re-opening cold-war era tunnels and shelters.

The message for lawmakers in our state is clear.

“I think there is right now, a common sense support for repealing this. We’ve just got to educate people that let’s do that soon,” said Miloscia.

Miloscia knows something about nuclear preparedness. He was a B-52 bomber pilot during the Cold War.

He says lawmakers from both parties want to change the law.
 

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