Map: Population within 10 and 50 miles of nuclear power

These are the 65 locations of the 104 commercial nuclear power reactors in the United States, showing populations living within certain distances of the plants. Population figures use the 2010 Census.

Image: A man rakes his son's front yard across from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant
Jonathan Ernst  /  Reuters file
Ernie Garrison rakes his son's front yard across from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, where the U.S. suffered it most serious nuclear accident in 1979. The population within 10 miles of Three Mile Island grew by 10.9 percent in the past decade, while Pennsylvania's population grew only 3.4 percent. The sharp growth was typical for nuclear plants across the nation, according to Census data analyzed for msnbc.com.
Investigative reporter Bill Dedman of msnbc.com
By Bill Dedman Investigative reporter
msnbc.com
updated 4/14/2011 7:00:43 PM ET 2011-04-14T23:00:43

Who's afraid of nuclear power? Not the American people, judging by where they choose to live.

A new map of data from the 2010 U.S. Census shows that the number of people living within the 10-mile emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants rose by 17 percent in the past decade, compared with an overall increase of less than 10 percent in the U.S. population.

If the circles on the map are widened to a 50-mile radius (the same evacuation area that U.S. nuclear officials recommended for Americans living near Japan's troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors), they would cover one in three people in the U.S.

That's 116 million nuclear neighbors, up from 109 million a decade earlier, according to the analysis conducted for msnbc.com by Longcreative, a data analysis and design company.

The population within 10 miles of Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island reactor grew 11 percent. At Pilgrim, outside of Boston, the increase was 41 percent. Near San Onofre on the California fault lines, 50 percent.

Among the 100 most populous U.S. cities on the new census map, 26 have a nuclear plant within 50 miles: New York, Chicago, Philadelphia (3 different plants nearby), Phoenix, San Diego, Fort Worth, Charlotte (2 plants), Detroit, Baltimore, Boston (2 plants), Washington, Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Omaha, Raleigh and Durham, Miami, Cleveland, Minneapolis and St. Paul (2 plants), New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Toledo (2 plants), Newark, Baton Rouge, and Rochester, N.Y.

To get more information: The interactive map on this story shows the populations within 5, 10, 20 and 50 miles of each nuclear power plant in the U.S. And a ranking of nuclear plants by population is at the bottom of the text, along with a data file for readers who want to do their own analysis.

'It makes a hissing noise'
Why would the population rise sharply near nuclear power plants, even in lower-growth states outside the Sun Belt? One reason could be normal population expansion, with previously unoccupied areas being filled in. Another reason: Nuclear reactors use water for cooling, from lakes, rivers or oceans, so the reactors are typically built on waterfront property. Is the sun rising or setting over the ocean any less beautiful if you can also see a cooling tower?

On a recent spring evening, two boys were shooting hoops in the driveway of a beachfront house on Millstone Beach in Waterford, a Connecticut town on Long Island Sound midway between New York City and Boston. The neat houses look out on glorious sunrises.

And if you turn your head to the right, the orange-and-white-striped tower of the Millstone Power Station reaches high above the white sand. The estimated population within 10 miles of Millstone grew 30 percent in the past decade, to 123,482. The population within 50 miles grew to 3 million, an increase of 10 percent, much faster than the state's general growth rate of 4.9 percent.

The father of one of the boys, Paul Van der Putten, 49, bought his home in 2003 for $378,000. It has increased roughly 75 percent in value since. He said he isn't worried about the nuclear plant, which is about six-tenths of a mile away, the length of 10 football fields. It has two operating nuclear reactors as well as a third reactor, mothballed but still a storehouse for nuclear fuel rods.

"It is what it is," he said. "It makes a hissing noise sometimes at night. That rattles the windows. They let us know when they have that scheduled. They let off the steam at night because no one wants to see the plume. It's just an industrial plant."

Quake risk at nuclear plants

His family did receive a packet of potassium iodide pills in the mail a while back, because they live within the 10-mile zone.

Where are those pills?

"They're in the house somewhere. I'm really not sure where."

Most reactors have more neighbors
Journalist Andrew Long at Longcreative plotted the 65 nuclear power locations for msnbc.com on a computerized map of the 2000 and 2010 census data, calculating the population within different distances from each plant. (One of the leading nuclear power companies, General Electric, is a part owner of NBCUniversal, which co-owns msnbc.com through a joint venture with Microsoft.)

Other conclusions from the mapping of census data:

  • Within 5 miles of the nation's nuclear plants, there are an estimated 916,330 U.s. residents, up 15.0 percent from a decade earlier.
  • Within 10 miles, the population jumps to 4,079,007, up 16.9 percent.
  • Within 20 miles, there are 18,510,584 people, up 12.3 percent.
  • And within 50 miles, 116,223,077 people, up 6.5 percent.

No matter what size the circle, the pattern is consistent: Most nuclear plants have growing neighborhoods. Out of the 65 nuclear power plants in the U.S., 55 plants had more people living within 5 miles than a decade earlier; 54 plants had more people within 10 miles; and 56 plants had more people within 50 miles.

Growth even in slow-growth states
Looking at individual nuclear plants, these patterns jump out:

The reactors with the most neighbors within 50 miles:

  • Indian Point, near Buchanan, N.Y., 41 miles upriver from the center of New York City, with 17.2 million people within 50 miles.
  • San Onofre, near San Clemente, Calif., and 45 miles from San Diego, 8.5 million.
  • Limerick, near Limerick, Pa., and 28 miles from Philadelphia, 8.0 million.
  • Dresden, near Morris, Ill., and 43 miles from Chicago, 7.3 million.
  • Peach Bottom, near Delta, Pa., and 36 miles from Baltimore, 5.5 million.
  • Hope Creek and Salem, both near Hancocks Bridge, N.J., and 43 miles from Philadelphia, 5.5 million.

The nuclear plant with the fewest neighbors is Nebraska's Cooper Nuclear Station, in a rural area on the Missouri border, with only 164,000 people within 50 miles.

The view from the bay window
Next door to the Van der Putten family on Millstone Beach in Waterford, Vincent E. McCurdy has a living room full of boxes. His family bought the house in late January for $760,000, moving in just before the Japanese nuclear emergency. He and his wife have a daughter at home and a son away at college.

Connecticut Multiple Listing Service, Inc.
View No. 1 from Realtor photos: From Windward Way in Waterford, Conn., the view of Long Island Sound is gorgeous. But turn to the right a bit...

As they shopped for waterfront property, McCurdy said, the nuclear power plant figured into their thinking mostly in terms of whether it could be seen through the bay window. The family's view of the Sound is unobstructed, but if they stand on the patio, they can see the orange and white tower.

"The plant was definitely way down on the list of considerations."

After Fukushima, nuclear power has been more on their minds, he said, but it wouldn't change their decision to choose this location.

"It's been elevated in terms of thinking about it, but we don't really talk too much about it, because we view the overall risk to be low."

McCurdy, 54, is a senior pharmaceutical scientist for Pfizer Inc., and approaches the question with an analytical mind. While he acknowledged there are some risks, "The safety record of the nuclear industry has been pretty good overall." Millstone is not near a fault line. Long Island would buffer them against a tsunami. Hurricanes in this area are infrequent and relatively mild. And if something catastrophic were to happen, he said, a nuclear emergency can be slow to develop.

Connecticut Multiple Listing Service, Inc.
View No. 2: From a slightly different angle, the view includes the tower of the Millstone Power Station nuclear plant. Population within 10  miles of the plant grew by 29.5 percent, while the state population grew by only 4.9 percent.

"You'd have some time to react, to get the family out of town."

Growth even outside the Sun Belt
Even nuclear plants in low-growth areas of the country showed increases in population. For example, the population in the 10-mile preparedness zone around the Salem and Hope Creek plants, near Hancocks Bridge, N.J., grew by 54 percent. The state population grew just under 5 percent in the same decade.

These plants showed the most population growth, judged in percentage terms, using a 10-mile radius: Palo Verde, near Wintersburg, Ariz.; Brunswick, near Southport, N.C.; Calvert Cliffs, near Lusby, Md.; McGuire, near Huntersville, N.C.; Turkey Point, near Homestead, Fla.; and Shearon Harris, near New Hill, N.C. Each of these showed increases of more than 60 percent in a decade, from relatively small base populations in 2000.

Any idea that most reactors are in unpopulated areas is not borne out by the data, not when a 50-mile circle is drawn. The median, or middle, nuclear plant has 1.4 million residents within 50 miles. Out of 65 plants, 42 exceed a million people within that 50-mile zone.

How close is close?
Before Fukushima, people within a mile or two already knew they lived close to nuclear power. At Millstone, the neighborhood and the plant have the same name. The back gate of the plant was usually unlocked until after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Van der Putten said, and workers could walk from the plant to the neighborhood beach to have lunch.

Now, with all the talk of evacuation zones in Japan, Americans living 10 or 20 or 50 miles away may be calculating for the first time their distance from a nuclear reactor. In Japan, the evacuation zone has been expanded to 12 miles for everyone, and 12 to 19 miles for children, pregnant women and hospitalized patients.

Some critics of nuclear power have said that the standard emergency planning zone for the U.S. should be expanded to 20 or 50 miles. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said it's sticking with 10 miles, but that the zone can always be expanded in an emergency.

In Waterford, more than 100 people packed a meeting Monday evening at Town Hall to hear from officials of Dominion, the Virginia energy company that owns the Millstone nuclear plant. Though a few anti-nuclear activists were louder, a larger group of nuclear supporters shouted them down.

Dominion executives stressed differences between their plant's design and the troubled reactors in Japan, and emphasized the multiple backup systems and emergency plans. (See this PDF file for a typical set of emergency instructions for a nuclear power plant.) Among other differences, Millstone has pressurized-water reactors, not the boiling-water reactors used in Fukushima and in many U.S. plants. Dominion's main current concern is not fear but taxation: A proposed state tax in Connecticut would hit nuclear power hardest of all. Dominion has threatened to close the plant if the $335 million tax increase is approved and it can't pass the cost on to customers.

Judging by interviews in the neighborhoods, and conversation at the Main Street Grille in the village of Niantic, which has the best view of the plant, residents are less worried by the nuclear emergency than by another emergency just up the road in Boston: Two weeks into the baseball season, the Red Sox are in last place.

More than half of Americans polled say nuclear power is safe
Gallup, the polling organization, has asked two main questions on nuclear power.

Image: Cooling towers from the Limerick Generating station
Stan Honda  /  AFP/Getty Images
Cooling towers from the Limerick Generating Station, a nuclear power plant, 28 miles from Philadelphia, are seen from a nearby neighborhood. The population within 10 miles of the plant grew by 18.7 percent in the past decade.

Americans are divided on the question of construction of more nuclear power plants. In late March, with Japan very much in the news, 46 percent of those surveyed told Gallup that nuclear power is necessary to help solve the nation's current energy problems, while 48 percent said the dangers of nuclear power are too great, even if it would help solve energy problems. That's very nearly the same split as 10 years earlier.

On the issue of safety, there is a clear pro-nuclear majority: In the same Gallup poll in late March, 58 percent said that nuclear power plants are safe, while only 36 percent said they are not safe, with 6 percent expressing no opinion.

Gallup's editor in chief, Frank Newport, summarized: "It may be months or years before the final impact of the Japanese disaster on American attitudes toward nuclear power can be assessed. In the short term, Americans are concerned about the dangers of a nuclear crisis in this country. But Gallup's most recent survey suggests that support for nuclear power may be more stable than some might think."

Ranking of U.S. nuclear plants by population within 50 miles
These are the 65 commercial nuclear power plants in the United States, showing the estimated U.S. populations within 10 and 50 miles, the changes in population between 2000 and 2010, and distances to selected larger cities within 50 miles. These 65 locations have 104 operating nuclear reactors. Several of the reactors also would have nearby Canadian residents, who are not counted here.

The plants are ranked here by population within 50 miles.

More information: This information is summarized on the accompanying map, and more details on each plant and its population changes are available in an Excel spreadsheet.

1 Indian Point, near Buchanan, N.Y., two reactors, licensed 1973/1976, 2010 population within 50 miles is 17,220,895 (increase of 5.1 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 272,539 (increase of 17.6 percent), cities within 50 miles include New York (41 miles to city center); Newark, N.J., (39 miles); Stamford, Conn., (24 miles); Bridgeport, Conn., (40 miles).

2 San Onofre, near San Clemente, Calif., two reactors, licensed 1982/1983, 2010 population within 50 miles is 8,460,508 (increase of 14.9 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 92,687 (increase of 50.0 percent), cities within 50 miles include San Diego (45 miles).

3 Limerick, near Limerick, Pa., two reactors, licensed 1985/1989, 2010 population within 50 miles is 8,027,924 (increase of 6.1 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 252,197 (increase of 18.7 percent), cities within 50 miles include Philadelphia (28 miles).

4 Dresden, near Morris, Ill., two reactors, licensed 1969/1971, 2010 population within 50 miles is 7,305,482 (increase of 3.5 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 83,049 (increase of 47.6 percent), cities within 50 miles include Chicago (43 miles).

5 Peach Bottom, near Delta, Pa., two reactors, licensed 1973/1974, 2010 population within 50 miles is 5,526,342 (increase of 10.6 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 46,536 (increase of 7.2 percent), cities within 50 miles include Baltimore (36 miles).

6 Hope Creek, near Hancocks Bridge, N.J, one reactor, licensed 1986, 2010 population within 50 miles is 5,523,010 (increase of 7.5 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 53,811 (increase of 53.3 percent), cities within 50 miles include Philadelphia (43 miles).

7 Salem, near Hancocks Bridge, N.J, two reactors, licensed 1976/1981, 2010 population within 50 miles is 5,482,329 (increase of 7.6 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 52,091 (increase of 54.1 percent), cities within 50 miles include Philadelphia (43 miles).

8 Braidwood, near Braceville, Ill., two reactors, licensed 1987/1988, 2010 population within 50 miles is 4,976,020 (increase of 5.3 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 33,910 (increase of 6.5 percent), cities within 50 miles include Joliet (20 miles).

9 Fermi, near Monroe, Mich., one reactor, licensed 1985, 2010 population within 50 miles is 4,799,526 (decrease of 3.4 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 92,377 (increase of 9.5 percent), cities within 50 miles include Detroit (30 miles) and Toledo, Ohio, (27 miles). (Additional population in Canada, including Windsor, Ontario, 26 miles.)

10 Pilgrim, near Plymouth, Mass., one reactor, licensed 1972, 2010 population within 50 miles is 4,737,792 (increase of 10.2 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 75,835 (increase of 40.5 percent), cities within 50 miles include Boston (35 miles).

11 Oyster Creek, near Forked River, N.J., one reactor, licensed 1969, 2010 population within 50 miles is 4,482,261 (increase of 10.4 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 133,609 (increase of 35.8 percent), cities within 50 miles include Atlantic City (30 miles), Toms River (10 miles), Lakewood (19 miles), Asbury Park (30 miles), Cherry Hill (42 miles).

12 Seabrook, near Seabrook, N.H., one reactor, licensed 1990, 2010 population within 50 miles is 4,315,571 (increase of 8.7 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 118,747 (increase of 10.1 percent), cities within 50 miles include Boston (40 miles).

13 Turkey Point, near Homestead, Fla., two reactors, licensed 1972/1973, 2010 population within 50 miles is 3,476,981 (increase of 15.1 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 161,556 (increase of 62.8 percent), cities within 50 miles include Miami (25 miles).

14 Beaver Valley, near Shippingport, Pa., two reactors, licensed 1976/1987, 2010 population within 50 miles is 3,140,766 (decrease of 3.7 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 114,514 (decrease of 6.6 percent), cities within 50 miles include Pittsburgh (27 miles).

15 Millstone, near Waterford, Conn., two reactors, licensed 1975/1986, 2010 population within 50 miles is 2,996,756 (increase of 9.5 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 123,482 (increase of 29.5 percent), cities within 50 miles include Hartford (41 miles).

16 Monticello, near Monticello, Minn., one reactor, licensed 1971, 2010 population within 50 miles is 2,977,934 (increase of 8.6 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 62,976 (increase of 36.5 percent), cities within 50 miles include Minneapolis (38 miles), St. Paul (45 miles) and St. Cloud (22 miles).

17 Prairie Island, near Welch, Minn., two reactors, licensed 1974, 2010 population within 50 miles is 2,945,237 (increase of 7.8 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 27,996 (increase of 4.6 percent), cities within 50 miles include Minneapolis (39 miles) and St. Paul (32 miles).

18 Calvert Cliffs, near Lusby, Md., two reactors, licensed 1974/1976, 2010 population within 50 miles is 2,890,702 (decrease of 2.0 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 48,798 (increase of 86.4 percent), cities within 50 miles include Washington, D.C., (45 miles).

19 McGuire, near Huntersville, N.C., two reactors, licensed 1981/1983, 2010 population within 50 miles is 2,850,782 (increase of 23.3 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 199,869 (increase of 66.8 percent), cities within 50 miles include Charlotte (17 miles).

20 Three Mile Island, near Middletown, Pa., one reactor, licensed 1974, 2010 population within 50 miles is 2,803,322 (increase of 10.3 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 211,261 (increase of 10.9 percent), cities within 50 miles include Harrisburg (12 miles), York (13 miles), Lancaster (24 miles).

21 Shearon Harris, near New Hill, N.C., one reactor, licensed 1987, 2010 population within 50 miles is 2,562,573 (increase of 26.0 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 96,401 (increase of 62.6 percent), cities within 50 miles include Raleigh (21 miles), Durham (24 miles), Fayetteville (39 miles).

22 Catawba, near York, S.C., two reactors, licensed 1985/1986, 2010 population within 50 miles is 2,559,394 (increase of 25.0 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 213,407 (increase of 53.3 percent), cities within 50 miles include Charlotte (17 miles).

23 Surry, near Surry, Va., two reactors, licensed 1972/1973, 2010 population within 50 miles is 2,292,642 (increase of 13.9 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 127,041 (increase of 21.9 percent), cities within 50 miles include Virginia Beach (47 miles), Norfolk (30 miles), Richmond (50 miles).

24 Perry, near Perry, Ohio, one reactor, licensed 1986, 2010 population within 50 miles is 2,281,531 (decrease of 3.0 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 83,410 (increase of 8.0 percent), cities within 50 miles include Cleveland (36 miles). (Additional population in Canada.)

25 Palo Verde, near Wintersburg, Ariz., three reactors, licensed 1985/1986/1987, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,990,846 (increase of 28.6 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 4,255 (increase of 132.9 percent), cities within 50 miles include Phoenix (47 miles).

26 Waterford, near Killona, La., one reactor, licensed 1985, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,969,431 (decrease of 0.8 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 75,538 (increase of 7.4 percent), cities within 50 miles include New Orleans (33 miles).

27 North Anna, near Louisa, Va., two reactors, licensed 1978/1980, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,912,015 (increase of 22.6 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 21,396 (increase of 15.7 percent), cities within 50 miles include Richmond (40 miles).

28 LaSalle, near Marseilles, Ill., two reactors, licensed 1982/1984, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,902,775 (increase of 22.6 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 17,643 (increase of 7.1 percent), cities within 50 miles include Joliet (34 miles).

29 Davis-Besse, near Oak Harbor, Ohio, one reactor, licensed 1977, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,791,856 (increase of 1.4 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 18,635 (increase of 14.2 percent), cities within 50 miles include Toledo (26 miles). (Additional population in Canada, including Windsor, Ontario, 48 miles.)

30 Susquehanna, near Salem Township, Pa., two reactors, licensed 1982/1984, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,765,761 (increase of 5.5 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 54,686 (increase of 3.3 percent), cities within 50 miles include Wilkes-Barre (18 miles).

31 Comanche Peak, near Glen Rose, Texas, two reactors, licensed 1990/1993, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,755,528 (increase of 22.9 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 30,653 (increase of 44.1 percent), cities within 50 miles include Fort Worth (41 miles).

32 Vermont Yankee, near Vernon, Vt., one reactor, licensed 1973, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,533,472 (increase of 2.9 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 35,284 (increase of 1.4 percent), cities within 50 miles include Brattleboro (6 miles); Keene, N.H., (16 miles); Fitchburg, Mass., (38 miles).

33 Oconee, near Seneca, S.C., three reactors, licensed 1973/1973/1974, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,404,690 (increase of 14.8 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 66,307 (increase of 11.5 percent), cities within 50 miles include Greenville (30 miles).

34 Palisades, near Covert, Mich., one reactor, licensed 1972, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,326,618 (increase of 4.4 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 28,644 (decrease of 4.5 percent), cities within 50 miles include South Bend (45 miles).

35 Byron, near Byron, Ill., two reactors, licensed 1985/1987, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,273,771 (increase of 14.5 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 25,679 (increase of 5.9 percent), cities within 50 miles include Rockford (17 miles).

36 Saint Lucie, near Jensen Beach, Fla., two reactors, licensed 1976/1983, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,271,947 (increase of 37.0 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 206,596 (increase of 49.7 percent), cities within 50 miles include Ft. Pierce (8 miles) and West Palm Beach (42 miles).

37 Ginna, near Ontario, N.Y., one reactor, licensed 1969, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,269,589 (increase of 2.1 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 66,847 (increase of 12.7 percent), cities within 50 miles include Rochester (17 miles). (Additional population in Canada.)

38 D.C. Cook, near Bridgman, Mich., two reactors, licensed 1974/1977, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,225,096 (increase of 2.8 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 54,638 (increase of 3.4 percent), cities within 50 miles include South Bend (26 miles).

39 Summer, near Jenkinsville, S.C., one reactor, licensed 1982, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,187,553 (increase of 14.3 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 17,599 (increase of 26.2 percent), cities within 50 miles include Columbia (30 miles).

40 Watts Bar, near Spring City, Tenn., one reactor, licensed 1996, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,186,648 (increase of 12.8 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 18,452 (increase of 4.1 percent), cities within 50 miles include Oak Ridge (37 miles).

41 Sequoyah, near Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., two reactors, licensed 1980/1981, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,079,868 (increase of 11.1 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 99,664 (increase of 13.8 percent), cities within 50 miles include Chattanooga (14 miles).

42 Crystal River, near Crystal River, Fla., one reactor, licensed 1977, 2010 population within 50 miles is 1,046,741 (increase of 32.4 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 20,695 (increase of 50.9 percent), cities within 50 miles include Ocala, (38 miles) and Spring Hill (34 miles).

43 Browns Ferry, near Athens, Ala., three reactors, licensed 1973/1974/1976, 2010 population within 50 miles is 977,941 (increase of 11.0 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 39,930 (increase of 12.3 percent), cities within 50 miles include Huntsville (28 miles).

44 Fort Calhoun, near Fort Calhoun, Neb., one reactor, licensed 1973, 2010 population within 50 miles is 953,410 (increase of 11.1 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 20,639 (increase of 9.7 percent), cities within 50 miles include Omaha (18 miles).

45 River Bend, near St. Francisville, La., one reactor, licensed 1985, 2010 population within 50 miles is 951,103 (increase of 11.2 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 23,466 (increase of 11.1 percent), cities within 50 miles include Baton Rouge (25 miles).

46 FitzPatrick, near Scriba, N.Y., one reactor, licensed 1974, 2010 population within 50 miles is 909,798 (increase of 3.2 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 35,136 (increase of 17.0 percent), cities within 50 miles include Syracuse (36 miles). (Additional population in Canada, including Kingston, Ontario, 49 miles.)

47 Nine Mile Point, near Scriba, N.Y., two reactors, licensed 1969/1987, 2010 population within 50 miles is 909,523 (increase of 3.2 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 35,632 (increase of 17.0 percent), cities within 50 miles include Syracuse (36 miles). (Additional population in Canada, including Kingston, Ontario, 49 miles.)

48 Robinson, near Hartsville, S.C., one reactor, licensed 1970, 2010 population within 50 miles is 893,536 (increase of 10.3 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 32,675 (increase of 2.6 percent), cities within 50 miles include Columbia (49 miles).

49 Clinton, near Clinton, Ill., one reactor, licensed 1987, 2010 population within 50 miles is 813,658 (increase of 5.7 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 14,677 (decrease of 0.4 percent), cities within 50 miles include Champaign (30 miles).

50 Point Beach, near Two Rivers, Wis., two reactors, licensed 1970/1973, 2010 population within 50 miles is 777,556 (increase of 10.0 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 19,975 (decrease of 6.7 percent), cities within 50 miles include Green Bay (28 miles).

51 Kewaunee, near Kewaunee, Wis., one reactor, licensed 1973, 2010 population within 50 miles is 776,954 (increase of 10.1 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 10,292 (decrease of 0.9 percent), cities within 50 miles include Green Bay (26 miles).

52 Vogtle, near Waynesboro, Ga., two reactors, licensed 1987/1989, 2010 population within 50 miles is 726,640 (increase of 8.8 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 5,845 (decrease of 16.3 percent), cities within 50 miles include Augusta (26 miles).

53 Duane Arnold, near Palo, Iowa, one reactor, licensed 1974, 2010 population within 50 miles is 658,634 (increase of 7.1 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 107,880 (increase of 8.2 percent), cities within 50 miles include Cedar Rapids (10 miles).

54 Quad Cities, near Cordova, Ill., two reactors, licensed 1972, 2010 population within 50 miles is 655,207 (decrease of 0.3 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 34,350 (decrease of 0.5 percent), cities within 50 miles include Moline (19 miles).

55 Callaway, near Fulton, Mo., one reactor, licensed 1984, 2010 population within 50 miles is 546,292 (increase of 15.0 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 10,092 (increase of 3.8 percent), cities within 50 miles include Fulton (11 miles), Jefferson City (26 miles), Columbia (32 miles).

56 Brunswick, near Southport, N.C., two reactors, licensed 1974/1976, 2010 population within 50 miles is 468,953 (increase of 39.6 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 36,413 (increase of 105.3 percent), cities within 50 miles include Wilmington (18 miles).

57 Diablo Canyon, near Avila Beach, Calif., two reactors, licensed 1984/1985, 2010 population within 50 miles is 465,521 (increase of 22.4 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 26,123 (increase of 50.2 percent), cities within 50 miles include San Luis Obispo (12 miles) and Paso Robles (31 miles).

58 Columbia, near Richland, Wash., one reactor, licensed 1984, 2010 population within 50 miles is 445,416 (increase of 23.4 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 10,055 (increase of 10.4 percent), cities within 50 miles include Richland (12 miles) and Pasco (18 miles).

59 Hatch, near Baxley, Ga., two reactors, licensed 1974/1978, 2010 population within 50 miles is 424,741 (increase of 12.0 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 11,061 (increase of 6.7 percent), cities within 50 miles include Vidalia (19 miles).

60 Farley, near Columbia, Ala., two reactors, licensed 1977/1981, 2010 population within 50 miles is 421,374 (increase of 6.1 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 11,842 (increase of 8.0 percent), cities within 50 miles include Dothan (17 miles).

61 Grand Gulf, near Port Gibson, Miss., one reactor, licensed 1984, 2010 population within 50 miles is 321,400 (decrease of 0.4 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 6,572 (decrease of 18.6 percent), cities within 50 miles include Port Gibson (5 miles), Vicksburg (25 miles).

62 Arkansas Nuclear, near London, Ark., two reactors, licensed 1974/1978, 2010 population within 50 miles is 308,219 (increase of 13.3 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 44,139 (increase of 17.2 percent), cities within 50 miles include Russellville (6 miles).

63 South Texas, near Bay City, Texas, two reactors, licensed 1988/1989, 2010 population within 50 miles is 254,049 (increase of 10.2 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 5,651 (decrease of 2.4 percent), cities within 50 miles include Lake Jackson (40 miles).

64 Wolf Creek, near Burlington, Kan., one reactor, licensed 1985, 2010 population within 50 miles is 176,656 (decrease of 1.7 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 5,466 (decrease of 2.8 percent), cities within 50 miles include Emporia (30 miles).

65 Cooper, near Brownville, Neb., one reactor, licensed 1974, 2010 population within 50 miles is 163,610 (decrease of 1.6 percent in a decade), 2010 population within 10 miles is 4,414 (decrease of 5.9 percent), cities within 50 miles include Nebraska City (25 miles).

About the study
Geographic information system (GIS) analysis was done by Longcreative, a data analysis and design company, for msnbc.com. Distances to cities within 50 miles were calculated by msnbc.com.

  1. More investigative reports
    1. Only four of 20 subpoenaed in Christie bridge investigation comply by deadline
    2. Hoffman withdrew $1,200 from ATM the night before he was found dead: sources
    3. Christie campaign seeks OK to raise funds for bridge investigation legal costs
    4. Feds ask NJ lawmakers not to interfere with criminal probe in bridge scandal
    5. Latest allegation in New Jersey bridge scandal piles on political woe for Chris Christie

Population figures use the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census. The  Census Bureau reports population within areas called census tracts, relatively small areas of less than 10,000 people. The mapping program drew circles around the plant at 5 miles, 10 miles, etc. (A 1-mile radius wouldn't be meaningful: Measuring from the reactor site itself, much of the land within 1 mile would either be on plant property or in the water in most cases.)

As the circle around a plant cuts through census tracts, the map assigned a share of each tract's population to the circle based on the percentage of the tract's land area that is within the circle. The analysis focused on 10 miles, the standard area in the U.S. for preparing for nuclear emergencies, and 50 miles, because of the recommendation given to Americans in Japan after the Fukushima emergency.

The estimates for total population living with certain distances from any nuclear power plant:

  • Within 5 miles, 916,330 residents, up 15.0 percent from 796,509.
  • Within 10 miles, 4,079,007 residents, up 16.9 percent from 3,488,328.
  • Within 20 miles, 18,510,584 residents, up 12.3 percent from 16,480,894.
  • Within 50 miles, 116,223,077 residents, up 6.5 percent from 109,105,722.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Submit:

Send your ideas to NBC News Investigations

What should we investigate? Do you know of a story that we should pursue at NBC News? We're about investigative reporting on topics that matter: corruption, conflicts of interest, broken systems, abuses by institutions and individuals with power, whether that's government, nonprofits, or the press itself.

Tell us your idea...

 

 

Images must be .gif, .jpg/jpeg or .png formats. Combined file size limit: 40MB.Each file size should be larger than 1KB.

Image file Caption *

Image file Caption *

Image file Caption *

(3000 character limit)

How to reach you...

 

 

By clicking the Send button, I acknowledge and accept the following:

  • Submissions are reviewed by NBC News staff, and published or broadcast at their discretion.
  • NBC News may contact me via e-mail or phone if my content is used or with questions about my submission.
  • I agree to the terms of the NBC News Privacy Policyand Terms & Conditions.

Video: Japanese government expands evacuation zone

Photos: Triple tragedy for Japan

loading photos...
  1. Office workers in Tokyo look at smoke rising over the skyline after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Japan's northeast coast on March 11, 2011. (Xinhua via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Waves pour over a seawall and roar into a seaside village near the mouth of Hei River on March 11 as the tsunami generated by the massive earthquake hits shore. (Mainichi Newspaper via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Hotel employees squat around a pillar at the hotel's entrance in Tokyo after the powerful earthquake on March 11. (Itsuo Inouye / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A tsunami wave sweeps away homes in its path in Natori, Miyagi prefecture, on March 11. (Kyodo News via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. One house bursts into flames after the tsunami swept it and many of its neighbors off their foundations in Natori on March 11. (Kyodo News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Shaken evacuees gather in Shinjuku Central Park in Tokyo on March 11. (Kyodo News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. An aerial photo shows Sendai Airport being inundated by a tsunami on March 11. Later reports said the first wave hit 26 minutes after the quake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time. (Kyodo News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A swirling pattern is evident in this aerial photo of the tsunami as it hit a port in Oarai, Ibaraki prefecture on March 11. (Kyodo News via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Toya Chiba, a reporter for local newspaper Iwate Tokai Shimbun, is swept away while taking pictures at the mouth of the Owatari River during the tsunami at Kamaishi port, Iwate prefecture. Chiba managed to survive in the rush of water by grabbing a dangling rope and climbing onto a coal heap around 30 feet high after being swept away for about 100 feet, Kyodo News reports. (Kamaishi Port Office / Kyodo via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Natural gas containers burn in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, on March 11. The massive earthquake triggered many fires, posing additional problems for first responders. (Kyodo News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Containers for cargo are strewn about like giant Legos in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, on March 12. (Itsuo Inouye / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. People use a floating container to ferry survivors to higher ground in Kesennuma City, Miyagi prefecture, on March 12. (Kyodo News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Cars swept into a jumble by the tsunami are seen in Hitachi City, Ibaraki prefecture, on March 12. (Yomiuri via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A line of residents seeking water snakes across the playground of a school in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, on March 13, two days after the earthquake. (Kyodo News via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Japanese firefighters rescue tsunami survivors in Natori, Miyagi prefecture, on March 13. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A Japanese home drifts in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Sendai in this photograph taken on March 13. (Dylan McCord / U.S. Navy via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A woman cries while sitting on a road in the devastated city of Natori, Miyagi prefecture, on March 13. (Asahi Shimbun / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. An "SOS" signal scrawled on the sports field of a high school beckons potential rescuers on March 13 in the town of Minami Sanriku, Miyagi prefecture. (Kyodo News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

    The body of a victim of the twin disaster lays on the stairs of a destroyed house in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, on March 13. (David Guttenfelder / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Sixty-year-old Hiromitsu Shinkawa waves to members of Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force preparing to rescue him about 9 miles off Fukushima prefecture on March 13. Shinkawa survived by clinging to a piece of roof after the tsunami hit his hometown of Minamisoma. (Japanese Defense Forces via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. People walk along a flooded street in Ishimaki City, Miyagi prefecture on March 13. (Kyodo News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. An explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant sends a plume of smoke skyward on March 14. The blast was believed to have been caused by a buildup of hydrogen inside the reactor building, caused by the partial meltdown of nuclear fuel inside. The plant was crippled after the earthquake cut power to the station and tsunami waves knocked out backup generators. (NTV / FCT) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. A 1-year-old boy is re-checked for radiation exposure after being decontaminated in Nihonmatsu, Fukushiima prefecture, on March 14. (Toru Nakata / Asahi Shimbun via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Officers examine a Mitsubishi F-2 fighter jet of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force on March 14. The warplane was swept by the tsunami into a building at Matsushima base in Higashimatsushima, Iwate prefecture. (Kyodo News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Japanese rescue team members carry the body of a man out of the village of Saito on March 14. (David Guttenfelder / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. A woman survivor is reunited with her relatives at a shelter in Rikuzentakata in Iwate prefecture, on March 15. (Lee Jae-Won / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A bicyclist wheels across a hellish landscape in what was the city of Minami Sanriku, Miyagi prefecture, on March 15. (David Guttenfelder / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Tsunami survivors cook on an open fire in front of their damaged house in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 15. (Kyodo News via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Vehicle headlamps illuminate a devastated section of Yamada town, Iwate prefecture, on March 16. (Jiji Press via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Evacuees carry bowls of pork soup from a soup kitchen to a makeshift shelter in Minami Sanriku, Miyagi prefecture, on March 16. (Tsuyoshi Matsumoto / The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Refugees, including 53 people who were rescued from a retirement home during the tsunami, take shelter inside a school gym in the leveled city of Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, on March 17. (David Guttenfelder / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Members of Japan Self-Defense Force pray over the body of a tsunami victim in Onagawa, Miyagi prefecture, on March 20. (Shuji Kajiyama / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Tomoko Yagi looks at two firetrucks that were tossed around like toys in the tsunami in Kamaishi, Iwate prefecture, on March 20. (Lee Jae-Won / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Survivors relay boxes of relief supplies arriving at their evacuation center in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, on March 21. (Kunihiko Miura / The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A boat juts out from the top of a building in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture, on March 22. (Hiroto Nomoto / The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Manami Kon, 4, uses the Japanese "hiragana" characters she just learned to write a letter to her missing mother in the devastated city of Miyako, Iwate prefecture, on March 22 . "Dear Mommy. I hope you're alive. Are you OK?" read the letter, which took about an hour to write. Also missing were the little girl's father and sister. (Norikazu Tateishi / The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Tokyo Electric Power Co. workers collect data in the control room for the Unit 1 and 2 reactors at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on March 23. (Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. An aerial photo taken by an unmanned drone shows the damaged units of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant on March 24. (Air Photo Service via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Two residents exchange words as they are reunited two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami in a makeshift public bath set up outside a shelter in Yamamoto, Miyagi prefecture, on March 25. (Shuji Kajiyama / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A Japanese funeral parlor worker shovels dirt onto the coffins of victims of the earthquake and tsunami at a mass funeral in Yamamoto, Miyagi prefecture, on March 26. (David Guttenfelder / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. A lone pine tree stands in a devastated area iof Rikuzentakaka, Iwate prefecture, on March 27. It was the only one among tens of thousands of other pine trees forming "Takata Matsubara," or Takata seaside pine forest, standing after the March 11 tsunami washed away all the others, local media said. (Kyodo News via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. A woman whose house was washed away loses control of her emotions on March 29 as she talks about the disaster that befell her hometown of Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture. (Kuni Takahashi) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, left, talk with evacuees at Tokyo Budoh-kan evacuation center on March 30. (Issei Kato / Pool via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Co., (TEPCO), including Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, center, Vice President Takashi Fujimoto, second from left, bow before a news conference at the company's head office in Tokyo on March 30. (Itsuo Inouye / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. A man rides a bicycle in between the ships that were washed ashore by the March 11 tsunami, on March 30, in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture. (Eugene Hoshiko / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. An elderly woman waves to her grandchildren in Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture, on April 3, as authorities began a mass evacuation of approximately 1,100 homeless survivors to shelters elsewhere. (Jiji Press via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments