Researchers at Stanford University say that unless a lengthy warning period is provided, clogged exit roads would pose more significant risks by exposing evacuees to radiation than if people were to remain in place at the center of large buildings or in basements, a release from the Society for Risk Analysis says.
The Stanford research uses sophisticated mathematical models to investigate the impact of various response strategies.
"The logistical challenge of an evacuation appears to be beyond current response capabilities," study author Lawrence M. Wein of Stanford said.
The Stanford researchers cite previous studies saying first responders are unlikely to be able to establish evacuation stations until 12-48 hours after an attack, no significant federal response would be likely for 24 hours, and a full federal response is not likely to be achieved for 72 hours.
"Unlike a bioterror or chemical attack, it may not be possible for the government to provide timely advice to the populace after such an event," the study said.
The research was published in the journal Risk Analysis.