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Washington state doesn't have a plan for a nuclear attack

In the event of a nuclear strike there are state laws that literally ban Washington state officials from doing a part of their job.

On Wednesday, September 13, a Senate committee will explore that and other areas of emergency planning for the state.

The ban is contained in several laws that cover emergency planning.

Specifically, the laws prohibit the Emergency Management Division from making plans to evacuate or relocate people if there's a nuclear attack.

The laws date back to the 1980s, when some officials thought making emergency plans could be misinterpreted by other nations as being a hostile move.

Republican state Senator Mark Miloscia says he remembers that kind of paranoid thinking, but he hopes those attitudes have changed.

"I think the nuclear threat is very much real, and we have to make sure that we do all sorts of needed planning in case this thing with North Korea really bumps up to the emergency or serious level,” Miloscia said.   

Miloscia is working to amend the laws in the next legislative session. He cosponsored a bill with Democratic Senator David Frock.

From Emergency Management’s point of view, a nuclear attack is a serious threat, but it’s just one of many. There's also flooding, volcanoes and of course the mega earthquake that could devastate the region.

So EMD Director Robert Ezelle says they focus on a universal plan that covers multiple emergencies. They call it an all hazards approach.

"We realize that much of what we do in terms of planning for the things that will happen will also be applicable to the majority of what we would anticipate coming out of a nuclear attack, minus of course the radiological implications,” Ezelle said.

He said they would need more resources and money to expand their planning.