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Nuclear industry plans 'rescue wagon' in disasters

Ray Henry, Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) -- If disaster strikes a U.S. nuclear power plant, the utility industry wants the ability to fly in heavy-duty emergency equipment to help.

That capability is part of an emergency plan being developed to meet new federal rules developed after a tsunami devastated the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan, leading to meltdowns and radioactive releases.

The tsunami that struck Japan exceeded what the nuclear plant was built to withstand. U.S. nuclear officials said the crisis showed how a utility can become overwhelmed by so large a disaster, especially when it wipes out roads and infrastructure needed for the emergency response.

Under the plan, nuclear plants are assembling extra emergency equipment to keep on site. They could also get equipment flown or trucked in from stockpiles in Memphis, Tenn., and Phoenix.