INDIAN POINT TIMELINE

 . . . a troubling history


1952:  The Atomic Energy Commission brings Con Edison together with other energy companies to develop commercial nuclear plants.  The commission had already developed a prototype, but it was found to be inefficient.

Jan. 5, 1954: The Buchanan Village Board holds a 10-minute public hearing on rezoning the area known as Indian Point, formerly a popular park with beaches, trails, swimming pools and two piers receiving thousands of people by boat out for a day of fun. The plan is passed without opposition. According to terms of the deal, Con Edison is to pay 70 percent of the Hendrick-Hudson school district’s taxes, install  a village-wide sewer system, pave streets and provide mercury streetlights.  

October 1954: Consolidated Edison buys Indian Point Park and an adjacent tract, totaling 350 acres on the banks of the Hudson River at Indian Point, which is a popular park with beaches, trails, swimming pools and two piers.  The plants are sited on the Hudson River, the Ramapo earthquake fault line, and 24 miles from the New York City line.  

1963: The 265 megawatt Indian Point 1 plant starts operating.

1966: Indian Point 2 starts construction.

1969: Indian Point 3 starts construction; Con Ed starts operation in 1976.

1973: Operation at Indian Point 2 begins.

November 1973: Engineers shut down Indian Point 1 when a 300-degree steam leak buckles the “heat proof” steel liner of the containment vessel.

October 1974: Indian Point 1 is ordered to shut down, lacking emergency cooling systems.

1975: New York Power Authority buys Indian Point 3 for $349 million.

July 1977: A transformer explosion at Indian Point triggers a major blackout, causing dozens of people, fearing a major accident, to flee.

October 17, 1980: Con Ed discovers over 100,000 gallons of radioactive water spilled in the containment building of Indian Point 2. Neither the NRC, local officials, nor the public is notified of the accident for three days.

February 27, 1993: New York Power Authority shuts Indian Point 3 after a series of violations.

June 22, 1993: Indian Point 3 is placed on the NRC’s “Watch List” of troubled plants. NRC fines Indian Point 3 $300,000 for 17 safety violations.

September 14, 1993: Plant workers accidentally dump 900 gallons of radioactive water into the Hudson .

May 1994: Con Ed says radioactive water has been leaking at the site for four years, with estimates of up to 150 gallons leaking each day.

June 1994: An underground pipe breaks at Indian Point 3 plant spilling 1,600 gallons of toxic waste into the Hudson .

July 19, 1995: Indian Point 3 restarted after a two-and-a-half year shut down.

August 1997: Indian Point 3 is cited by the NRC for safety violations.

August 6-15, 1997: Indian Point 2 shut down due to defective safety valve settings.

November 19, 1998, Indian Point 3 shut down in response to unauthorized entry into protected area.

February 15, 2000: First full scale alert declared at Indian Point when Indian Point 2 reactor manually tripped due to indications of steam generator tube rupture in generator number 24. Contaminated steam is released. The NRC later reveals that hundreds of gallons of radioactive water leaked into the Hudson River and the Buchanan water system. Indian Point 2 is shut down until December 2000. 

April 2, 2000: NRC rates Indian Point 2 most trouble-plagued nuclear power plant in the country.

November 2000: Entergy, an energy conglomerate based in New Orleans , purchases Indian Point 3 & the James A. Fitzpatrick for $967 million. Entergy’s Northeast regional headquarters in White Plains announced the plant was worth more than $152 million a year to the local economy.

September 2001: Entergy purchases Indian Point 1 and 2 for $502 million.

September 21, 2001: NRC admits uncertainty that the nation’s 103 plants could withstand the same kind of impact that leveled the World Trade Center .

May 18, 2002: Christopher Kozlow, Westchester ’s deputy commissioner of emergency services, is dismissed after about six months on the job. Kozlow is to claim the county wouldn’t let him change the evacuation plan.

June 5, 2002: Testimony before the U.S. Senate states that security guards at the nation's 104 nuclear power plants are not equally paid, trained or armed. Some earn less than janitors and carry shotguns that would be no defense against terrorists with automatic weapons, say lawmakers and security experts.

June 8, 2002: Westchester County gives away potassium iodide pills at first of three public distributions. Thousands show up to receive pills.

August 2002: Governor Pataki Hires James Lee Witt Associates to evaluate emergency plans for Indian Point and other state nuclear facilities.

September 11, 2002: Entergy shuts down Indian Point 2 to prevent a growing hydrogen gas leak from reaching potentially explosive levels in the air outside the nuclear power plant.

January 10, 2003: The Witt Report, an independent study of the evacuation plan commissioned by Governor George Pataki, is made public. Report states evacuation plan can’t protect public.

January 14, 2003: County executives from Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties refuse to sign evacuation plan.

February 2, 2003: FEMA tells the state it must ignore the counties' protest and make its own decision about the emergency evacuation plans.

February 4, 2003: Invoking the principle of home rule, SEMO rejects the federal directive, saying it will not overrule the counties’ decision to refuse to sign their annual certification letters.

February 21, 2003: FEMA refuses to certify the emergency evacuation plans, saying it cannot give "reasonable assurance" that they can protect the public.

February 28, 2003: Riverkeeper releases study by Synapse Energy Economics that demonstrates closure of the Indian Point Nuclear Plant would have little or no effect on reliable electric service for New Yorkers.

April 9, 2003:  Justice Thomas W. Keegan orders the State Department of Environmental Conservation to issue a draft permit for Indian Point's cooling system by Nov. 14, in response to a lawsuit brought by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, Clearwater , Riverkeeper, Pete Seeger, and others.   Millions of fish eggs, larvae, and young fish are killed every year by the power plant’s water-intake system.  

April 28/29, 2003:  Mechanical problems cause Reactor 2 to trip due to offsite electrical problems on April 28.  On April 29 a fire breaks out in Reactor 3; it took over 45 minutes to bring the fire under control.  Both reactors are taken off-line.  

May 1, 2003:  Over 175 first responders state they cannot guarantee safety of residents.

July 25, 2003:  FEMA and the NRC overrule the counties’ and state’s determination that the emergency evacuation plans can’t protect the public.  County inquiries and Congressional hearings are called in the aftermath.

July 2003:  NRC reports that IP 2 & 3 received 28 whistleblower complaints for 2002, a 22 percent increase. 75% of the complaints primarily involved issues of security. National median was four. 

August 12, 2003: NRC launches investigation into cause of 9 unplanned shutdowns at IP during the past 18 months.  The national average is less than one unplanned shutdown per reactor.

August 14, 2003:  Blackout 2003.  The entire region regains power without IP being online for nearly a week. 

September 8, 2003:  The Union of Concerned Scientists and Riverkeeper formally petition the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to order the immediate shutdown of both nuclear power reactors, because the plant’s drainage pits (also known as containment sumps) are “almost certain” to be blocked with debris during an accident.

September 9, 2003:  NRC conducts a special inspection of IP’s emergency-alert system to examine a discrepancy between Entergy and the 4 EPZ counties over the reliability of 154 sirens.

September 13, 2003:  Nearly 600 electrical workers at Indian Point ask a federal court to block managers from shifting them between the Indian Point 2 & 3.  The electrical workers claim that cuts in the work force have led to unsafe working conditions and poses safety issues for the public.  Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America requests a restraining order against Entergy Nuclear Operations, a subdivision of Entergy Nuclear Northeast.

September 16, 2003:  Project on Government Oversight (POGO) releases a letter it sent to the NRC criticizing the agency for making the security tests at Indian Point nuclear plant too easy. The letter based criticism of the “force-on-force” test on information gathered from participants and observers of the test.

September 18, 2003:  The NRC initiates a special inspection of Indian Point’s emergency-alert system to examine a discrepancy between Entergy Nuclear and the four emergency planning zone counties over the reliability of 154 sirens. 

November 20, 2003:  276 rank-and-file workers at the Indian Point 3 unit schedule a strike authorization vote for Dec. 4, Local 1-2 Utility Workers Union of America. Manny Hellen, president of the local, said a strike would occur if a new contract isn't reached by Jan. 17.  

October 22, 2003:  An Entergy official admits on NRP-affiliate station WAMC that there is no updated seismic hazard analysis for Indian Point.

December 22, 2003:  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issues a report that examined numerous unplanned outages at Indian Point.  The report reveals that during the August 14th blackout key back-up systems were not in operation.  The NRC found that Entergy had not corrected a known problem with some of the plant’s back-up diesel generators. As a result the diesel generators, needed to power air-conditioning to cool emergency response equipment, failed during the blackout. 

December 29, 2003: Entergy sends a letter to the NRC formally notifying the agency of their intent to store irradiated nuclear fuel in dry casks on the site of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, in an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI).  Industry whistleblowers and nuclear safety watchdogs have raised concerns about design flaws with the Holtec dry cask model Entergy proposes to use at Indian Point and about Holtec’s inadequate quality assurance program.

January 18, 2004:  Entergy and Local 1-2 Utility Workers Union of America reach a tentative four-year agreement, averting a strike.

March 1, 2004:  William Lemanski – a town councilman of Tuxedo,  NY and a retired software manager at Indian Point 2 publicly announces at a town board meeting his concerns regarding improperly sorted electric cables at the Indian Point 2 nuclear power plant.

March 9, 2004:  Indian Point 2 & 3 receives NRC green rating for safety.  As a result, Indian Point will receive less intense oversight from the NRC.

April 15, 2004:  A hundred concerned residents attend an NRC open meeting to discuss Entergy’s plans to store high-level radioactive waste in above-the-ground casks.

April 26, 2004: The Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition calls on the NRC to conduct a realistic drill that includes a terrorist scenario with a fast-breaking release for the emergency plans for the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone near Indian Point.

May 5, 2004: Stamford , CT emergency officials request to be on the Emergency Notification list for Indian Point.

May 2004: For the first time in US nuclear power history, the NRC ends the public’s right to a hearing on safety issues.

May 25, 2004:   Westchester County hires Boston-based Levitan & Associates to determine if and how the Indian Point nuclear plants can be closed and replaced with an alternative energy source

June 2, 2004: Dr. Erik Larsen, medical director of the STAT Flight emergency helicopter operation at the Westchester Medical Center , raises concerns that the facility could “fall apart” with as few as 50 people seeking treatment after an accident at Indian Point. 

June 8, 2004:  Biennial emergency evacuation drill for Indian Point conducted.  Elected officials and the public are outraged when it is learned that the drill included a “terrorist-type attack” but no radiation was released in the scenario.  FEMA and the NRC quickly rubber stamp the test as adequate.

June 2004: The 9/11 commission and its witnesses divulge that additional air-based terrorist attacks have already been attempted, that more major attacks are likely in the near future, and that nuclear power plants are top al-Qaeda targets. 

June 23, 2004: Entergy employee raises concerns that emergency sirens may not operate properly during hot summer days. 

July 15, 2004:  Over 100 concerned residents attend NRC open house to discuss Entergy’s proposed dry cask storage system.  IPSEC and nuclear safety experts argue that large casks containing deadly toxic waste are attractive terrorist targets, particularly since Entergy’s plan is to place them on a concrete pad with no protective structures or barriers. 

July 22, 2004: The 9/11 commission report suggests that the 9/11 plot’s ringleader had considered crashing a commercial airliner into a nuclear power plant in the New York area. The report explains that Mohamed Atta, who piloted one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center , “considered targeting a nuclear facility he had seen during familiarization flights near New York .”

August 9, 2004:  The NRC announces that it will no longer make available to the public the results of physical assessments of nuclear plant security or enforcement actions associated with such evaluations.

September 2, 2004: Entergy announces plans to cut work force at Indian Point by up to 500 workers.

September 2, 2004:  Indian Point 2 shutdown for valve failure.

September 3, 2004:  A new patrol boat is approved to be permanently stationed at Indian Point. Oversight of the boat will fall to the authority of the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs, which uses National Guard troops to staff its marine force.

September 8, 2004: Riverkeeper releases a study that finds the potential health consequences of a successful terrorist attack on the Indian Point nuclear plant could cause as many as 518,000 long-term deaths from cancer and as many as 44,000 near-term deaths from acute radiation poisoning, depending on weather conditions.  Dr. Edwin Lyman , a senior staff scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, authored the report entitled “Chornobyl-on-the-Hudson?: The Health and Economic Impacts of a Terrorist Attack at the Indian Point Nuclear Plant.”

September 15, 2004: Indian Point 2 shutdown for valve failure.

September 6, 2004:  Entergy announces that it will seek a power uprate for Indian Point. The company wants to increase power generation by 90 megawatts. 

September 20, 2004: Entergy drops its interest in building a small onsite gas plant at Indian Point site.

September 21, 2004:  Congresswoman Sue Kelly (R-Katonah) calls on the NRC to inspect wiring at Indian Point after former worker raised allegations of improper cable separation at Indian Point.

September 24, 2004: Indian Point 2 shutdown for valve failure.

September 24, 2004: Orange County Board of Legislators Public Safety Committee passes resolution calling on federal authorities to investigate the safety of spent fuel storage at the Indian Point nuclear plant.

October 1, 2004: Indian Point security guards ratify a new five-year contract, averting a possible strike.

October 19, 2004:  A labor dispute at Indian Point 2 triggers a sickout by approximately 40 electricians and other craft union workers after several workers were fired for allegedly raising safety concerns.

October 27, 2004:  The NRC approves a 3.26% increase of electricity generating capacity for Indian Point 2.

November 2004: Up to 300 Indian Point workers are exposed to asbestos.  Charles Pencola, a steam-fitter who has worked at Indian Point for 35 years, said Entergy managers declined to stop work in the area until the problem was properly corrected.

December 2004:  A nuclear watchdog group releases data showing that there is no backup power for sirens, in the event of loss of electricity.  Indian Point is one of many U.S nuclear plants without backpower to emergency sirens.

December 3, 2004: Indian Point 2 is shutdown for welding problems.

December 10, 2004: Emergency sirens fail to rotate properly.

January 2005: For the third consecutive year Westchester, Rockland , and Orange County officials refuse to submit their Annual Certification Letters, a checklist for the Indian Point emergency evacuation plans.  For the second year in a row Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi submits his county’s paperwork, despite no material changes to the plan since the Witt Report concluded that the plan is gravely flawed and probably cannot be fixed.

January, 19 2005: Westchester County hosts State Emergency Management Office Open House for Indian Point.  Potassium Iodide pills are distributed to the public.

January 24, 2005: IP guard discovered drunk while acting as a safety supervisor at a firing range where other Entergy security workers were undergoing firearms training on the job at Indian Point.  He receives a two week suspension.  

January 26, 2005: Congressional delegates, Eliot Engel (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) and Sue Kelly (R-NY) notify the NRC that any failure of emergency sirens at Indian Point is unacceptable.

January 31, 2005: At a Press Club luncheon NYS Attorney General Eliot Spitzer says he supports the closure of Indian Point, if energy reliability can be assured.

February 8, 2005:  Westchester County Executive Andy Spano calls on the NRC to investigate emergency sirens at Indian Point.

February 10/11, 2005:  Control rods fail to load properly at Indian Point.

February 10, 2005: Ulster County Board of Legislators overwhelmingly votes in favor of opposing a 20-year license extension on Indian Point.  Ulster County becomes fourth county board, and joins an addition 16 municipal boards that have passed a similar resolution opposing the relicensing of Indian Point.

February 14, 2005:  Due to Entergy’s improper handling of radioactive waste, an Indian Point shipment of low-level radioactive waste is discovered leaking upon arrival at the Barnwell Waste Management Facility in Barnwell , South Carolina .  According to the NRC at least one worker was exposed to radioactive materials; this is in violation of South Carolina laws regulating the handling of nuclear waste at the Barnwell facility.

April 6, 2005: The long awaited study by the National Academy of Sciences on the vulnerability of spent fuel pools at U.S. nuclear power plants is released. The report, released yesterday, confirms what Riverkeeper has maintained since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: the spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants are soft targets, vulnerable to terrorist attack by aircraft or high explosives, and pose a high risk to public health and safety due to the high levels of volatile radionuclides present in the irradiated fuel.  Riverkeeper calls on Governor Pataki and Congressional delegates to immediately appoint an independent commission to review Indian Point’s spent fuel pools, their vulnerability to terrorist attack, and possible solutions to minimize the grave risks posed to the public in the event of a terrorist attack at Indian Point.

April 12, 2005: The Government Accountability Office issues a scathing report of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and nuclear power plant owners, including Entergy, for their ineffective oversight, poor inventory management, and lax safety and security management of high-level radioactive spent fuel at the 103 nuclear power plants in the United States .  In 2004 Entergy lost high-level radioactive spent fuel rods at its Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. 

May 18, 2005:  NRC issues a Notice of Violation to Entergy Nuclear, Indian Point 2, following an inspection revealing that Entergy failed to respond adequately to a buildup of nitrogen gas in the safety injection pump system, which controls water flow in the emergency backup cooling system.  The buildup of nitrogen gas had continued for 77 days before the NRC notified Entergy of the seriousness of the problem, knocking out one pump completely and damaging two others. 

June 9, 2005:  Levitan Associates releases a report commissioned by Westchester County to study the feasibility of retiring Indian Point before its licenses expire.   The report states that the energy currently supplied by Indian Point 2 & 3 could be easily replaced through a combination of new plants and increased energy efficiency measures at the state level, with the increase to ratepayers estimated to be “less than a slice of pizza per month.”

June 20, 2005: Congresswoman Nita Lowey authors The Nuclear Power Licensing Reform Act of 2005.  If passed, it would require that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must apply the same licensing standards to old nuclear power plants as new nuclear power plants, must take into account changes in population around a nuclear power plant, must require adequate emergency evacuation plans for populations within a 50-mile radius of a nuclear power plant, and must take into account threats to the population due to security and safety vulnerabilities at a nuclear power plant.

July 2005:  Power to Indian Point’s emergency siren system is knocked out on two different occasions, once for six hours before officials were aware of the problem.

July 29, 2005 :  Entergy Nuclear NE publicly commits to replacing the malfunctioning emergency siren system, following repeated failed tests and power outages earlier in the summer.  NY Senator Hillary Clinton’s amendment to the 2005 Energy Bill– which was signed into law by President Bush – mandates that Indian Point’s sirens have reliable backup power. 

August/September 2005:  The emergency siren system fails to operate properly during testing on several occasions, due to problems with Verizon’s phone lines and software failures that resulted in all of Rockland County ’s sirens failing to sound for nearly an hour.

August 1, 2005:  NRC issues a “White Finding” to Entergy for their failed response to a nitrogen gas leak first discovered in April 2005. 

September 12-15, 2005:   Department of Homeland Security conducts a review of security and emergency planning at Indian Point, as part of the federal government’s “Comprehensive Assessment” of the vulnerability of the nation’s infrastructure to terrorist attack.  A siren test conducted during the review once again fails to activate a significant number of sirens.  The review is unrelated to the widespread criticism of FEMA/DHS following Hurricane Katrina.

September 20, 2005:  NRC and Entergy notify the public that radioactive water is leaking from IP2’s spent fuel pool.  The leak was discovered by contractors excavating earth from the base of the pool in preparation for the installation of a new crane, for use in transferring spent fuel from the pool to dry cask storage.  NRC assures the public there is no “immediate risk to public health or the environment.”  NRC later admits that Entergy first discovered the leak twenty days earlier, but did not believe it was serious enough to warrant public notification.  NRC orders a special inspection to determine the source of the leak.

September 29, 2005:  A control rod malfunction at IP3 forces the reactor to cut power by 35% immediately and notify the NRC.  The control rods are designed to operate in unison, dropping into the reactor core to slow the fission process if a problem arises.  In this case, a single rod dropped into the core without warning. 

October 2-9, 2005:  Indian Point 3 is completely shut down following the control rod malfunction.  The electrical switch the NRC believes caused the problem is replaced.  Despite the loss of 1,000 MW to the NY power grid, there are no disruptions or significant price increases during the week that IP3 is inoperative.

October 5, 2005:  Entergy notifies the NRC that a sample from a monitoring well located in the IP2 transformer yard shows tritium contamination that is ten times the EPA drinking water limit for the radionuclide, and is consistent with tritiated water from a spent fuel pool.  The NRC broadens its special inspection to include this new information.  The NRC also states in its report that the monitoring well had not been checked since its installation in 2000, following the transfer of IP’s ownership from ConEd to Entergy.

October 7, 2005 :  The NRC updates its Special Inspection Charter for the IP2 Tritium Leak to include a review of Entergy’s efforts to control the ongoing leak from the IP1 Spent Fuel Pool.

October 18, 2005 : The NRC and Entergy confirm that the radioactive leak discovered in August is greater than initially believed.  The radioactive isotope, tritium, has been discovered in five sampling wells around Indian Point 2, while the leak at the spent fuel pool has increased to about two liters per day.  Exposure to tritium increases the risk of developing cancer.  The company plans to test more wells, inspect the liner of the leaking fuel pool, and install additional monitoring wells.

October 18, 2005:  A test of the Indian Point sirens failed again today.  Ten of 15 sirens in Orange County and another four of the 156 total sirens within the 10-mile evacuation zone failed to sound during the routine test. 

October 28, 2005 : NRC Region 1 Director Sam Collins formally requests permission from the agency’s Executive Director of Operations to increase oversight at Indian Point on two matters, the tritium leak and the continued problems with the emergency sirens.  Permission is granted three days later.

November 16, 2005:  The NRC holds a public meeting with Entergy to discuss the company’s plan for replacing the emergency siren system at Indian Point.  Entergy announces their commitment to completely replacing the system by January 2007 with new sirens that will have backup battery power.  However, statements by DHS officials regarding a lengthy approval process for the sirens put the time schedule in doubt. In addition, NRC official Erik Leeds argued that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 required that the NRC enforce the order within 18 months, not that backup power be installed within 18 months.

November 26, 2005 :  The tritium leak at IP2 remains unsolved, nearly three months after its discovery.  Entergy’s use of underwater cameras and divers to visually inspect and test for leaks at three locations on the steel liner’s surface yield no results.  Entergy must now employ different cameras to inspect the liner near the bottom of the pool, where the radiation is too high for a human diver to enter.

December 1, 2005 :  Entergy reports to the NRC that an initial sample from a new monitoring well five feet from the wall of the IP2 Spent Fuel Pool shows tritium levels in the groundwater at thirty times the EPA limit, the highest level of tritium contamination yet discovered.  In addition, the NRC announces that preliminary tests of tritiated water found in the IP1 Pool Collection System contain too much tritium to be from the IP1 Pool, suggesting that tritium-laced water is being collected in the IP1 Drain from another, unknown source.  The NRC still does not know where the leak is coming from, how long it has been leaking, or the extent of groundwater contamination under the plant.  

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