National

Posted: August 10, 2017

Amid North Korea threat, old law prevents Washington state from preparing for nuclear disaster


By KIRO7.com

SEATTLE —

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

>> Watch the news report here

KIRO-TV found that a law from the '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.

>> Look at these photos from inside North Korea

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.

>> Trump improvised 'fire and fury' warning to North Korea: reports

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 states that "Comprehensive Emergency Management" does not mean preparation for emergency evacuation or relocation of residents in anticipation of a nuclear attack.

>> Why is North Korea threatening Guam?

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

“I couldn’t believe how this thing could go on the books,” Miloscia said. “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.”

>> North Korea, Trump exchange threats

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

The message for lawmakers in Washington 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,” Miloscia said.

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

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

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