are articles, editorials and letters in general about Indian Point. You can
also find specific articles and commentary about
the leak at Indian Point 2 discovered in September, 2005.
Find 2007, 2006,
2002 and 2001
Point 2 taken off line
By GREG CLARY
publication: December 23, 2005)
Indian Point 2 shut down yesterday morning so repairs could be made to a packing
seal on a valve that regulates the flow of nonradioactive water to one of the
plant's four steam generators.
for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point, said the plant had to
be shut down — the first time in 383 days of continuous operation — in order
to make the repair.
we'll be back up by the weekend," Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said.
One of two
working nuclear reactors at the site, Indian Point 2 produces about 1,000 megawatts
of power, an estimated 5 percent of the electrical power grid that serves New
the reactor's power would be reduced to about 2 percent of its normal operation
and would remain there until the valve is repaired.
power production was reduced without incident, Steets said.
only real concern about the repair was breaking their continuous operation streak.
is one of the longest continuous runs in the plant's history," said Paul
Rubin, Indian Point's operations general manager, "and it's a credit to
the Indian Point workers for demonstrating their attention to safety and operations
and maintenance skills."
3, which was taken down for repairs during the first week in October, continues
to operate at full power, company officials said.
The following letter
is in the December 13, 2005 New York Observer, responding to the NYO editorial
of December 5 that appears just below the letter.
To the Editor:
In theory, there
could be a more dangerous site to operate a nuclear-power plant than Indian
Point, but so far it hasn’t been built [“Travesty at Indian Point,” Editorial,
Dec. 5]. Indian Point stands alone, by virtue of being in an area so densely
populated—20 million people live in a 50-mile radius—and by having a fatally
flawed evacuation plan and a history of uncontrolled radioactive leaks.
plant sits a few miles from one of New York City’s reservoirs, making the present
tritium leak—which has an undiscovered source and is migrating further out and
deeper into groundwater—particularly ominous. Nearly 50 years ago, when this
plant was first proposed, it seemed a fine idea—but with the growing threat
to human health and safety, and with rising ecological costs to mine uranium,
produce the nuclear-fuel cycle and deal with growing radioactive waste, Indian
Point has become a brilliant mistake.
In 2003, Governor
George Pataki commissioned James Lee Witt, the former FEMA director, to assess
Indian Point’s emergency-evacuation plan. Mr. Witt’s detailed analysis criticized
the plan as unworkable, but since then, neither Mr. Pataki nor FEMA has acted
to protect the public any better—and Entergy has no will to care. When government
agencies and elected officials do not protect us from a threat to our security
and well-being—particularly when it involves the drinking-water supply—it is
a public-health failure of the highest order. Mr. Pataki should put an out-of-business
sign on Indian Point’s door before he leaves office and show that he cares about
the public’s health and safety. If he doesn’t, our next Governor should make
it one of his first acts.
from December 5th, 2005
at Indian Point
is Indian Point still in business?
asked that very question several times on this page, and we ask it again. Why
is Indian Point, a nuclear danger to millions of residents in one of the most
crowded regions of the country, still in business?
are no answers, only rhetoric and assertions.
is the latest evidence in favor of closing Indian Point: Small quantities of
radioactive water are leaking from a pool that stores spent fuel rods. Nobody
can quite figure out the source of the leak. That in itself is a scary thought.
of the leak comes after the plant’s sirens, which are supposed to signal an
emergency, failed several tests. With good reason, federal officials are investigating
security at this dangerous and unnecessary power plant.
Point’s owners, the Entergy Corp., say they’re doing everything they can to
find the source of the radioactive leak. Residents have been told that there
is nothing to fear; that the leak amounts to only about a quart or two a day.
of course, the problems at Indian Point go beyond this leak—which is hardly
a minor issue anyway. Indian Point is a national-security threat to the city
of New York and its surrounding communities. A terrorist strike there would
be a global catastrophe, so horrible that, as Nikita Khruschev said in
another era of nuclear-powered fears, the living would envy the dead.
is infuriating to realize that Governor George Pataki could shut down Indian
Point single-handedly. But once again, the lame-duck Governor is demonstrating
his stupidity on an issue that means so much to so many New Yorkers. He will
be remembered as a passive man who did nothing—after the horror of 9/11—to prevent
this disaster in the making.
is Indian Point still in business? Because the Governor of New York is afraid
to act. That’s why.
plan in works
By Greg Bruno
- In the three months since Hurricane Katrina decimated Gulf states, killing
hundreds, officials here have been working to incorporate lessons learned from
that disaster into regional emergency planning closer to home.
Greene, deputy commissioner for emergency management, offered lawmakers examples
evacuation plan is a living document," Greene told members of the public
safety and emergency services committee. "There are still lessons being
after the storm, New Orleans had difficulty with bus drivers and other emergency
personnel abandoning their posts to "take care of family," Greene
a large-scale evacuation were to be ordered in the area - for example, caused
by a release of radiation from the Indian Point nuclear power plant - Greene
said orders would be given to assist first responders' families quickly.
ideas incorporated into the county's plan include keeping gas stations well-stocked
to avoid fuel shortages; staggering evacuations to keep traffic moving on escape
routes; and improving communication capabilities.
do remain, but nonetheless, officials say Orange County residents are better
off today than before Katrina hit.
emergency management," commissioner Walter Koury said, "there is no
plan that's ever finished
Old civil defense
siren comes to life - at 1:15 a.m.
November 30, 2005,
12:53 PM EST
YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. (AP) _ An old civil defense siren that had not been used
in 15 to 20 years suddenly went off in the middle of the night, rousing hundreds
of residents and lighting up the Police Department's switchboard like never
before, a spokesman said Wednesday.
"We got 42 "911" calls and more than 60 non-emergency calls,
almost simultaneously," when the siren began wailing at about 1:15 a.m.,
said Yorktown Police Lt. Donald Schuck.
Some callers asked if there was an air raid, but more feared an emergency at
the Indian Point nuclear power plants a few miles away in Buchanan, Schuck said.
Some just wanted to get it turned off so they could go back to sleep.
In fact, there was no emergency and it wasn't one of Indian Point's 156 sirens.
Investigators think some faulty wiring led to a short circuit that set off the
lone siren at a firehouse on Route 132 and Locksley Road in Yorktown Heights.
It sounded for about 40 minutes before Yorktown Heights Fire Chief Martin McGannon,
who was surprised the thing worked at all, managed to turn it off.
Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.
must close to ensure safety
By Mark Jacobs
(Original Publication: November
if the worst happened? What if there were a catastrophe at the Indian Point
nuclear power plants? What if there were even a very expensive repair needed
at Indian Point? What would Entergy, the owner that claims to be so concerned
with our community, do?
after Entergy's response to Hurricane Katrina has been made public, the answer
is clear: Entergy would cut and run. Entergy does not really own Indian Point
— instead, it has set up a number of limited liability corporations, which own
these nuclear reactors. What does that mean to us? It means that money flows
in one direction — up from these LLCs to the $10 billion parent company. It
means that when the LLC has financial difficulties, Entergy selectively forgets
the $1 million-a-day income per reactor it has been pocketing and lets its subsidiary
LLC go bankrupt, instead of sending back some of these profits to help the community.
is not some paranoid fiction put forth by a plant opponent — this is what Entergy
did with Entergy New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As people still
suffer from lack of power, Entergy feels no pain, with Entergy New Orleans having
put itself into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, creating even more delay and uncertainty
in the restoration of electric service to the community.
So what is the answer? Force
Entergy to close down these dangerous and risky nuclear reactors now, before
the worst becomes reality. After Indian Point is closed, then, and only then,
will residents be truly safe.
the Editor, Journal News
won't help residents escape
publication: November 30, 2005)
"Siren replacement on fast track," Nov. 17 article:
are we kidding?
the emergency siren system at Indian Point may give a false sense of security
to some, but what's the point of a warning system when there can be no escape?
sitting in traffic during a normal rush hour. Make that Friday afternoon; add
a rain storm. Now picture our highways on the Friday of a July Fourth weekend,
or on Thanksgiving Day. We all know what that's like. I hope we never have to
experience what it would be like trying to get anywhere in the event of a nuclear
accident or an attack on Indian Point. Sirens or not!
York Times, November 26, 2005
Leak at Indian Point Eludes Diver and Cameras
N.Y. - A drop of radioactive water leaks every minute from the pool that stores
the spent fuel rods at Indian Point 2 here. The water is captured in a plastic
sheet and then channeled into a plastic bottle for disposal. It adds up to a
quart or two a day.
officials and the plant's owners say there is no danger from the leaking water,
which contains tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. But plant operators
have still not pinpointed the source. And because the plant was built when detection
systems were not required, the leak went unnoticed until discovered almost by
chance when workers excavating around the pool noticed dampness in the surrounding
leak, which was found in September, has been the latest worry for local officials
and nearby residents concerned about the Indian Point nuclear reactors. It comes
on top of repeated failures in tests of the plant's sirens, which are meant
to warn of an emergency. Federal security experts also began a reassessment
of the plant's security in September, which they have declined to discuss.
added on to the other issues that we have with Indian Point, like the sirens,"
Susan Tolchin, a spokeswoman for Westchester
County, said of the leak. She also questioned whether the leak was the only
officials have been searching for the source of the leak for the past two months.
They have lowered remote-controlled cameras into the 35-foot-deep pool that
stores the plant's spent fuel rods, and they even sent a diver wearing radiation
monitors to look at flaws found by the camera for evidence of the leak, with
there is no assurance that the leak can be fixed, Don Leach, a project manager
at Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns the reactor, said, "We are going
to do everything we can to get there." Monitoring wells are also being
drilled to detect contamination.
required to monitor and control our releases, so this is something we have to
deal with," said Don Mayer, a radiological engineer who has been involved
in finding the source of the leak. Even so, he said, from the standpoint of
the environment, health risks and safety risks, it is almost negligible. "The
offsite dose is essentially zero," he said.
Point's first plan for stopping the leak was to bring in a diver that Entergy
hired, Tim Fisher, 39, of Tucson, who said he has been working as a commercial
diver for 17 years. His company, Underwater Construction Corporation of Essex,
Conn., has sent him into lakes and rivers and to about 15 nuclear plants to
repair parts that must be kept submersed to limit radiation. Mr. Fisher examined
three spots in the Indian Point pool, but none of them were the source of the
Fisher goes into the spent fuel pool with a radiation monitor on each arm, each
leg, his back and his head. Readings
are instantaneously fed to the surface.
a series of dives, he recently sat with a colleague, Rene Breault, as they dubbed
video images of the pool's inner liner and of Mr. Fisher's dive onto compact
discs. Stuck to the wall near his workstation with a piece of duct tape, a hand-written
note showed how much radiation exposure he could absorb before the end of this
year. Under the plant's rule, he is limited to 1,167 millirem, the amount that
the average American absorbs in about three and a half years from natural and
man-made sources. He said he was unlikely to get close to that amount on this
job; in his last dive, he absorbed about 15 millirem, he said.
professed little concern about working a few feet from the highly radioactive
fuel, which is stored in water that acts as a radiation shield. "Whatever
it takes," he said.
has explored almost all of the pool area that is accessible to humans. Soon
Entergy will begin with a smaller camera that can squeeze into the bottom 15
feet of the pool, the area between the side of the fuel rods and the wall. Finding
the source of the leak there would be reassuring, company officials say, because
they would know where it is, although it is not clear how they would repair
levels above the drinking water limit have been found at only one monitoring
well near the storage pool, and no wells in the area are used for drinking water,
company officials say. Tritium is produced as a byproduct in nuclear reactors
producing electricity. Small amounts are routinely released as plants like Indian
Point continuously filter out radioactive contaminants like strontium and cesium
from water from its reactors, and release the water.
put the leak in perspective, plant officials say the two Indian Point operating
reactors already legally discharge into the Hudson
every year an amount of tritium 18,000 times greater than what is now leaking.
has not stopped plant opponents from raising concerns about the leak.
Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, recently met with the chairman of
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and called for a "comprehensive plan"
to deal with the leak, as well as swifter notification of local officials whenever
there are problems at the plant. Earlier this month the commission promised
enhanced oversight, Mrs. Clinton announced.
for Indian Point security report
By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: November 25, 2005)
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the company has completed all of the video
inspections it can in the 40-foot-deep, 400,000-gallon tank without smaller
cameras and other equipment. That portion of the inspection will take place
as soon as possible, he said.
"We've done all we can without having to modify the camera or use different
equipment," Steets said. "We won't be sending in a diver to look at
the area that's left."
The water is leaking at the rate of about a liter per day, and the source
still has not been determined.
"The third flaw turned up nothing, zero," Steets said. "We never
put a lot
of stock into that idea, but we needed to check it."
Now the company must become more creative in finding the source, he said.
Since the discovery of the leak Aug. 22, engineers at Indian Point have said
that it would take time to determine its origin.
Steets said Entergy would continue to look in the spent-fuel pool for the
leak, though company engineers have not ruled out that the leak might be
coming from elsewhere.
"It's possible that it could be somewhere else in the pool, but it's
possible it's coming from somewhere else," Steets said.
The Department of Homeland Security is delaying a report on the security of
navigable waters around the nation's nuclear power plants until 2007, and a
group of New York's elected representatives in Washington wants some answers.
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, wrote Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff at the beginning of the month asking that the report, due during
the summer, be released. Engel said he didn't hear from Chertoff's office
until he sent a second letter containing the additional signatures of his 19
Democratic colleagues from the New York delegation.
Among those joining Engel in signing that letter were Reps. Nita Lowey,
D-Harrison and Charles Rangel, D-Manhattan.
Pamela Turner, an assistant secretary for Homeland Security, told Engel in her
Nov. 17 response that an interim report would be available to Congress in 30
to 60 days and that the full report would be part of a more comprehensive vulnerability
assessment that would be sent to Congress in the fall of 2007.
Engel said that schedule was too slow for an issue as sensitive as security.
"That's obviously not acceptable," he said. "I'd like to know
why we were never informed that the one-year deadline was not going to be met.
Are they arrogant enough to think they can disregard a congressional mandate?
Why did it take missing the deadline and a letter from me and my colleagues
before we get any kind of response?"
Brian Doyle, a Homeland Security spokesman, said a second letter from the department
would go out immediately to let the congressional delegation know that the interim
report would be available as early as next week.
During congressional consideration of the vulnerability review, Doyle said,
the task was "elevated and broadened" to allow for a more comprehensive
review of how to protect nuclear plants.
"It's not like we've been sitting here twiddling our thumbs," Doyle
"We are moving as fast as we can on this."
Soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, overall security at the
Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan was upgraded to include the posting
of Coast Guard cutters until a state militia marine unit was
stationed there full time. The property is on the bank of the Hudson River.
Indian Point officials said a fully staffed militia boat was posted in the
Hudson around the clock and there was no means by which a vessel could get to
the site from the water.
Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point,
said even a rocket fired from a boat would not be able to penetrate the containment
buildings' 4-foot-thick concrete walls.
Cmdr. Pete Gautier, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, which conducted the water-security
portion of the review for Homeland Security, said Indian Point was one of 11
locations nationwide that have been assessed. Forty sites in the country are
on navigable water, and all will be reviewed before the report is finished,
Gautier said the interim report going out soon to Congress probably would not
deal with the specifics of each plant, but rather the commonalities of their
security needs and plans.
Details of security measures at nuclear power plants are mostly classified,
federal and Entergy officials said.
'We have bullet-resistant
observation towers. The towers give us 360-degree visual and video capabilities.'
- Jim Steets,
Entergy Nuclear Northeast
By ABBY LUBY
Can the Indian
Point nuclear power plant, just 17 miles away from Bedford, withstand a terrorist
attack? The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is asking the public that question
by inviting comments that could eventually change security regulations at the
nation's 103 nuclear power facilities.
plants were required to upgrade security after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. By
2003 some upgrades were in place, but for many nuclear watchdog groups the upgrades
were minimal and a new round of petitions to the NRC requested a stronger security
force at the plants.
Greg Jaczko said last week at a Nuclear Policy Research Institute conference
in Virginia, attended by The Record-Review, that the public has 75 days to comment
on nuclear power plant security.
industry will know about the updates when the ruling is finalized, which will
be in about six to nine months, or even a year," said Dr. Jaczko.
details on plant security can't be shared with the public because the information
is deemed "safeguarded."
can comment on what they think should be included," said Dr. Jaczko.
can comment on broad general descriptions like protection against bombs, paramilitary
groups, or types of vehicles and things of that nature."
proposed rule says that "the lack of information on the security is to
guard against potential adversaries that could exploit the information."
So how can
the public fully comment on any security upgrades? Dr. Jaczko said, "It's
one of the difficult challenges regarding a rule-making like this."
upgrades include protection against radiological sabotage such as theft of special
nuclear material, violent external assault, and attack by stealth and from multiple
entry points to the plants.
the proposed amendment further suggests that nuclear power plants be able to
defend against "dedicated individuals willing to kill or be killed, a range
of weapons to include hand-held automatic weapons, and the ability to defend
against internal threats."
is more protection by increased guard patrols, additional physical barriers,
improved coordination with law enforcement and the military, revised security
plans, more security officer training, and contingency response plans.
considered by the NRC is safeguarding airspace, a concern for many area residents,
since the jets that bombarded the World Trade Center on 9/11 flew directly over
the plants at Indian Point.
not within our authority," said Dr. Jaczko. "The no-fly zones are
under the Department of Energy and the Federal Aviation Agency."
the NRC spokesman for Region 1, covering Indian Point, said a no-fly zone would
have to be many miles wide to have any real impact.
no-fly zone is five miles in diameter, a plane going 500 miles an hour will
cross that no-fly zone very rapidly. If the zone were 10 miles in diameter,
the plane would cross it in a matter of seconds. For a no-fly zone to be meaningful
you really have to make it quite large."
no-fly zones were in place on the East Coast, where numerous nuclear power plants
and chemical facilities densely dot the map, air traffic would be slowed to
a crawl and eventually stopped altogether, said Mr. Sheehan.
more practical approach would be to deal with these problems at the airports
with better screening of passengers, stronger cockpit doors," he said.
"That's the best way to ensure that planes don't fall into the wrong hands."
added that the North American Aerospace Defense Command is also responsible
for monitoring airspace over the United States.
One of the
groups petitioning to change the current security rule is the Committee to Bridge
the Gap, a Los Angeles-based nuclear watchdog organization. Dan Hirsch, president
of the group, said that when all is said and done, the new rule will not require
the industry to do anything beyond what was done a few years ago.
a very misleading document," said Mr. Hirsch about the current proposed
rule. "It will codify the status quo."
who was also at the Nuclear Policy Research Institute conference, said the new
energy bill directed the NRC to revise security rules known as the "design
basis threat" and to take into account attacks of the magnitude of 9/11,
attacks by air, and attacks by large groups. Implied but not spelled out in
the energy bill was protection for plants from as much as 19 individual attackers,
the same number that attacked on 9/11.
been pushing for [guarding against] 19-plus attackers and attack by air,"
said Mr. Hirsch. "Those are not in the proposed rule. The NRC has declined
so far to do any of that. The proposal is to make no improvements."
to Close the Gap also suggested that plants construct shields against air attack.
These shields are sometimes referred to as "beamhenge," which is a
line of steel beams set vertically in deep concrete and placed around a plant,
decreasing its vulnerability to an air attack from a fully loaded jumbo jet
similar to what occurred on 9/11.
are people who feel very strongly about beamhenges," said Mr. Sheehan.
"But the commission has not agreed with that philosophy."
the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in southeastern Pennsylvania are 990 11-ton
concrete blocks and $200-a-foot fencing topped with razor wire. Ten new guard
towers - some six stories high - give armed guards broad vistas of possible
approaches to the plant.
spokesperson for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owners of Indian Point plants
one and two, said Indian Point has upgraded security to meet the current NRC
bullet-resistant observation towers," he said. "The towers give us
360-degree visual and video capabilities. There's a completely new 10-foot-high
fence with concertina wire, and we now have vehicle barriers at the base of
the outer perimeter of the property, enhanced perimeter barriers, personnel
A new permanent
group of guards hired by Entergy provide 24-hour surveillance of the plants,
said Mr. Steets.
are armed with new weapons, semiautomatic weapons," he said. "Drills
have included scenarios with an insider person who might work with the attackers,
someone who has access, someone with a badge. We've also had drills for water-based
said that all drills are determined by the NRC, which is advised by federal
politicians have reviewed the security improvements at Indian Point, they are
still bringing the NRC to task.
Sue Kelly (R-19) said in an e-mailed statement, "The bottom line is the
NRC must always exercise utmost scrutiny in its evaluation of a plant's defenses.
These security evaluations need to be based on the reality of any possible terrorist
threat we face. Anything less is unacceptable."
is also asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to re-examine
emergency preparedness plans for the areas surrounding the Indian Point nuclear
Congressman Eliot Engel and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton requested a U.S.
Coast Guard review citing vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants. The report
has yet to be released. Since 9/11, the NRC, FEMA, and the U.S. Coast Guard
have testified before many congressional hearings on protecting the country
against terrorist attacks of nuclear power plants.
Congressman Ed Markey, a Democrat representing the 7th District of Massachusetts,
was also a presenter at the conference in Virginia. He said there is no follow-up
for the various congressional hearings.
is a stimulus-response institution, and there's nothing more stimulating than
a near-term interest of a Republican congressman," said Mr. Markey. "Nothing
will happen, there won't be any significant oversight, and no significant hearings
in Congress at all. The Bush administration does not want to deal with the reality
of the al Qaeda documents found about targeting nuclear power plants, where
Indian Point is, what the safety issues are - it would run totally contrary
to the agenda of the Bush administration, who are subsidizing a new generation
of nuclear power."
public comment on revisions to security requirements
The U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would
amend its regulations governing the requirements pertaining to the design basis
be received within 75 days of publication in the Federal Register to guarantee
consideration by the NRC. Comments submitted later than this date may be considered
They can be
mailed to: Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C.,
20555-0001, Attn.: Rulemaking and Adjudications Staff.
be hand-carried to 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md., between 7:30 a.m. and
4:15 p.m. on federal work days, or they can be faxed to 301-415-1101.
can also be sent to SECY@nrc.gov. In addition, comments can also be submitted
through the NRC's eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov.
The entire proposed rule will also be available at that Web location. More information
about the DBT and security requirements for NRC licensees can be found on the
NRC's Web site.
Point sirens to be replaced
By Greg Bruno
Peekskill – Following months of political pressure that wound its way to Washington,
the owners of Indian Point have made a commitment to replace their nuclear plant's
troubled siren system by 2007.
timeline has yet to be established, but Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns
and operates the twin reactors in northern Westchester County, offered details
into what they hope to do during a public meeting here Wednesday.
Slobodien, emergency programs director for Entergy, said plans call for multi-directional
sirens that would likely be louder than the current Cold War-era rotating horns
that dot the region.
addition, electronic gadgetry – possibly military-grade – will give greater
information and feedback to local officials; backup batteries would enable the
system to function during blackouts; and the elimination of moving parts would
156 sirens in four counties – Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester – surround
the Buchanan plant. In the event of a radiological emergency, officials in each
county trigger the sirens with telephone lines or radio frequencies.
months of poor test results have eroded public confidence in the system, federal
more than hardware," Sam Collins, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's top
reactor safety official, told Entergy managers. "We're up here for a reason,
and that's clearly because people are concerned."
are elected officials. Earlier this year, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton
added a provision into an energy bill that required Entergy to make improvements.
Wednesday, Entergy said they've gotten the message.
intend to use tested, proven technology," Slobodien said. "We want
to use something that's tried and true."
Entergy is able to meet its schedule is a matter of some debate.
vendor has been selected for the multimillion dollar project, and the company
has only begun the arduous task of gaining local, state and federal approval.
committed to this aggressive schedule, but this is a very large system,"
Entergy's emergency director said. "The implementation of a new system
will take time."
critics who attended the Wednesday forum – officially advertised as a meeting
between the NRC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Entergy – interpreted
that to mean delays are inevitable.
is your job to not let them spin the numbers," Mark Jacobs, of the anti-plant
Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, told NRC officials during a heated-public
"And I don't think you're taking that job too seriously."
Point siren tests show improvement
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: November 16,
meets with Entergy
Entergy officials are set to meet with representatives
of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at 7 tonight at Crystal Bay on
the Hudson at Charles Point Marina in Peekskill.
For information about the meeting, visit
the NRC's Web site at www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings
Point's two tests of its emergency network of 156 sirens yesterday found only
a few problems, results that local emergency officials found encouraging after
two earlier, larger failures.
9:55 and 10:35 a.m., the nuclear plants in Buchanan ran two tests — one of the
backup and another of the primary notification system over four counties — and
the preliminary results showed connectivity problems with two sirens in Rockland
County and five in Westchester.
the sirens in Putnam and Orange counties worked during both tests, an emergency
the last few years, the four counties and Indian Point officials have disagreed
about whether sirens actually failed to sound or merely to register on the computer
software programs that monitor their functions.
representing the Indian Point nuclear plants said the actual number of sirens
that failed to sound was two — one in Rockland and one in Westchester. Local
emergency officials agreed with that count.
pleased with the results but we're still not comfortable," said Dan Greeley,
assistant director for Rockland County's Office of Fire and Emergency Services.
"After two failures, the system doesn't have a good record. My recommendation
will be to test the siren system more often, maybe once a month rather than
of Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns the Indian Point plants, have promised
to replace the siren system as soon as possible and will meet tonight in Peekskill
with representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss alternatives
to the decades-old notification system and installation of backup power.
Steets, a spokesman for Entergy, said the company expects to make its recommendation
for a replacement at the meeting, which the public is invited to observe.
previous meetings, the company has sought input on possible replacements from
the county officials within the 10-mile emergency evacuation radius of the plants.
key element of the new system will be tying the notification to means of communication
that many people now take for granted, such as text-messaging to cell phones
and mass e-mails sent to desktop and hand-held computers, in addition to interrupting
regular television and radio programming.
sirens have notified residents who can hear them since they were installed in
early 1980s that they should seek more information by turning on their radios,
for example, but have never been able to provide more information than the steady
signal that was sounded twice yesterday.
another system is in place, however, county officials want to ensure that the
current system will work in the event of an actual emergency.
sirens have been a major issue in the Lower Hudson Valley for nearly three years,
since the issue of whether they would sound in the event of a power failure
brought backup power into the debate. As recently as the spring, the NRC declined
a petition calling for backup power to be required.
that decision, however, the sirens have failed a number of times, including
a period in which the failure went undetected for at least six hours. In the
two most recent systemwide tests, whole sections of the system failed to work
properly, first in Rockland in September, then in Orange County last month.
Citizens Awareness Network
Court Cortlandt Manor, New York
Marilyn Elie: c 914-954-6739
Calls for the Real Deal –
Schools Practice the Evacuation Drill
controversy surrounding the antiquated siren alert system for emergencies at
the Indian Point nuclear power plant raises serious questions about the ability
of the school system and local government to protect the safety of pupils trusted
to their care. The recent down rating from green to white at Indian Point 2
and leaks at the spent fuel at Indian Point 3 have also contributed to a sense
of growing unease on the part of many parents.
There are ten school districts, 55 schools, and nearly 30,000 students who have
never rehearsed the proper procedures for an emergency evacuation. Drills in
which the schools have participated have been either “table top” drills where
a single phone call to participating districts assumed complete and successful
compliance or, at most, a drill where pupils were loaded onto buses but not
taken to a reception center. To do anything well it is necessary to practice:
an evacuation drill is no exception. If all of the many complex pieces
of the puzzle designed to keep students safe are to work smoothly, the plan
must be tested under the most realistic scenario possible. Just as fire
drills are regularly and routinely practiced so that students and staff know
how to exit the building swiftly, so must evacuation drills be practiced so
that there is no question about how to respond in the event of a radiological
There are realistic precedents for this kind of testing. The TOPS 2 drills
that were conducted in the Midwest revealed many unsuspected weaknesses in regional
evacuation plans. Last month the state of Vermont conducted a real-time unannounced
drill for the 20 schools surrounding the Yankee nuclear power plant. This is
Vermont’s third such real time drill to prepare for a real disaster.
A real time drill would test the schools KI or potassium iodide distribution
plan, and ensure that radiation monitors were available, that bus drivers could
locate the shelters and that shelters were adequately stocked with food, water,
medicine, and could accommodate all of the students assigned to them. All this
is merely speculation at the present time.
Dr. Richard Kravath, a pediatrician stated that “ Children are particularly
vulnerable to the harmful effects of radiation because their bodies absorb and
metabolize toxins differently. Children are also far more likely to ingest
the highly carcinogenic iodine, strontium and cesium isotopes because they put
their hands in their mouths more than adults. So it is really imperative
that they be rapidly evacuated and decontaminated, if exposed, and receive immediate
and appropriated dosages of potassium iodide.”
There are many different elements of our community that would require careful
planning in case of a radiological disaster. Children are among the most sensitive
and vulnerable of all. During the recent campaign for County Executive the challenger
called for a real time evacuation drill for the entire county. The incumbent’s
response was that the business community would be very unhappy with a real drill
because of the economic loss that would be sustained. Evacuating only the schools
would help mitigate this effect.
Marilyn Elie of Westchester Citizens Awareness Network stated: ”An emergence
evacuation plan is a chain in which one weak link can spell havoc. The
Indian Point plan is fatally flawed. Entergy’s broken siren system is
at the top of the list. Hiring an independent contractor to quickly install
a fully functioning alert and notification system is the only was to ensure
that the pubic will be informed.
additional question that must be clearly answered is: ‘Who is in charge here?”
Is it the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, FEMA, or Homeland Security? After
the nightmare in New Orleans, it is obvious that FEMA, while normally in charge
is not able to fulfill its obligation in either approving the merit of the plan
or coordinating a real time drill. This is one more reason that school
officials and county government must proceed on their own.
Citizens Awareness Network calls for the following items to be incorporated
in the existing emergency preparedness plan:
install back up power for all sirens that are a part of the emergency notification
system and rapidly replace them with a state-of-the-art system.
a phone dial-up for emergency notification.
a 2-week supply of potassium iodide tablets to all residents within 20 miles
all emergency alert radios.
pagers to all school bus drivers.
the Emergency Planning zone to cover all people within 50 miles of Indian
sirens for full coverage of all towns within the 50-mile radius of Indian Point.
WAIT FOR DISASTER TO HAPPEN?
to the Editor
years, the people's issue with the danger of keeping the Indian Point Nuclear
Plant open has been circumvented. An alternate source of energy must be installed
a.s.a.p. so that this age-old nuclear plant can be shut down. It presents
a real threat to thousands of people in surrounding communities. I understand
it does not have a "no-fly zone" protecting it and the nuclear waste
leak from a crack in one of the containment tubes has not been stopped that
I'm aware of. We simply cannot wait for a disaster to happen. Our representatives
who do not live near it should no longer take this matter lightly when the
possibility of a sudden meltdown from corrosion, or human oversight could
become a reality at any time. The evacuation plan, it has been said, is not
workable. The request to shut it down has been put on the back burner
too long. Any little thing that goes wrong could suddenly be too big to handle.
nuclear energy presently being supplied to thousands of Entergy's customers
via the antiquated Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant needs to be replaced with
an alternate source as early as possible. This is a very urgent matter that
has not yet been acted upon in the manner we've requested. The more time
passes, the older it gets and the greater the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe. I
would urge all of you to write to our representatives Hillary Rodham Clinton,
Sen. Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Sue Kelly requesting immediate action.
Here are their websites: www.clinton.senate.gov, www.schumer.senate.gov,
Advocate for a Safe Environment
at Indian Point
publication: November 11, 2005)
Who would have thought that the World Trade Center could have been destroyed
so easily? Indian Point can be worse. Elementary vulnerabilities are arrogantly
pooh-poohed by Indian Point management. Assurances that the plants are safe
are empty. They would shut down the Indian Point immediately if the Price Anderson
Act were abolished. This is a federal law that limits their liability to a microscopic
fraction of the harm they can cause. Price Anderson destroys your property rights
to protect their property rights.
Their refusal to take full responsibility
for the risk they cheerfully impose on you is equaled by their satisfaction
with ridiculously inadequate evacuation plans. Their rule that a 10-mile evacuation
zone is good enough is stupid. One "health" physicist (at a debate)
insisted that the poisons are diluted to a safe level after 10 miles. Hogwash.
Each microscopic deadly particle is not diluted; it is carried by wind to
harm living beings.
Highly qualified conscionable scientists
have been persecuted for exposing the lies and hypocrisy of the nuclear cult.
We have been confronted by a criminal fraud on a massive scale. Our government
will not tell you that nukes are unsafe because they are a product of the
nuclear weapons bureaucracy. Hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies
have been guzzled at the expense of cleaner, safer, less costly energy alternatives.
The Indian Point nukes have a long history of negligence and dishonesty. They
endanger you, the entire metropolitan area and hundreds of miles beyond.
Regulatory Commission Lowers Indian Point Safety Rating
November 9, 2005
Marilyn Elie 914-739-6164
Leaks from Irradiated Fuel Pools Raise New Worries
to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) website, Indian Point 2’s safety
rating has been down rated from green to white status for the second quarter.
Again, the NRC has been reticent in releasing significant safety information
about the plant, although the rating change occurred in August, this information
has only been recently released. The
plant lost its green rating because of degradation to the safety injection
system over a period of several weeks—this involved the accumulation of nitrogen
gas in portions of the safety injection system which caused one pump to become
inoperable and would have caused the performance of the two remaining pumps
to become degraded.
Jacobs, spokesperson for the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) stated:
“Indian Point, the first nuclear reactor to be given a red rating by the NRC
after the February 2000 steam generator leak, is again moving in the wrong
direction. The current profile of problems including degradation of
the safety injection system, faulty sirens, failing water pumps,
defective emergency sump pumps, defective fireproofing of electrical cables,
two leaking irradiated fuel pools, control rods dropping unexpectedly and
a backlog of over a thousands repairs show Indian Point to be too great a
risk for the surrounding community.”
number of problems at the plant has raised the concern of state and local
officials. In response to this pressure the NRC recently issued a "deviation"
memo that called for increased scrutiny of the reactors.
Schepart of Westchester Citizens Awareness Network (WestCAN) said, "They
can inspect it until the cows come home. What good is that going to
do? It did not keep the spent fuel pool from leaking and it has not
kept the water pump operating properly. We need to put an end to this
nonsense. Indian Point is an aging plant that will unquestionably be
closed. The only question is when. And the only rational answer
is: as soon as possible. The minute this decision is made, the marketplace
will have the incentive to develop replacement energy sources."
has been reported, problems with the spent fuel pool at Indian Point have
resulted in the leak of the radioactive isotopes tritium, cesium and cobalt
into the soil and groundwater surrounding the pools.
It has just been discovered that there have been similar leaks
at the decommissioned Connecticut
Yankee nuclear plant. Connecticut Yankee reports the
east side concrete wall shows some concentrations of cesium, cobalt, strontium
and tritium, three of which are the same isotopes found leaking from the Indian
Point fuel pool.
both cases it is not known when the leak started or how much water was lost
from the spent fuel pool. In fact, the Indian Point 2 Spent fuel pool
is the only one in the country that was built without ‘leak detection channels’
between the steel liner and the concrete outer wall of the pool. Had
the pool been built consistently with other plants’ designs, the leak would
have been detected immediately. At Connecticut Yankee, monitoring equipment
failed to detect a leak. The leaks were found much later by sampling
water in nearby wells. In both cases radioactive isotopes are migrating
away from the pool and possibly into ground water. In the case of Indian
Point, the migration pathway includes the Hudson
Elie of WestCAN said, “It is now evident that these pools have reached the
end of their useful life. Reactors are like used cars, you can only
keep patching them up for so long and then you just can't throw enough money
at them to keep them operating safely.”
is unconscionable that nuclear corporations not only leak toxic materials,
but act like its no big deal," said Deb Katz, executive director of Citizens
Awareness Network. "Pool leakage is a systemic problem at aging reactor
sites. In western MA, Yankee Rowe's compromised fuel pool leaked tritium as
well as chemicals into the groundwater. Two of the tritium plumes
are double the EPA drinking water standard. This violation of the community's
trust is a big deal."
officials at Entergy continue to maintain that the amounts radioactive
isotopes discovered in the water are below current regulatory limits, a recent
report by the National Academy of Science determined that there is no such
thing as a risk free low level of radiation. Moreover, long term exposure
to low levels of radioactive isotopes is carcinogenic. Notably, regular
and routine radioactive emissions are part of the everyday operation of nuclear
Indian Point is located on the Wappinger
's fault line. This fault line has caused displacement problems with
conduits in the past.
Lee of IPSEC questioned if earth tremors could have caused the cracks in the
concrete walls of the pool and noted that cracking, fraying, breaks and corrosion
are the realities of any aging system. “These problems will only get
worse, if the plant is re-licensed for an additional 20 years. Indian
Point is a menace to the people who live and work in the
New York metropolitan region; it is a plant
that was built in the wrong place, yet the $10 billion Entergy Corporation
reaps hundreds of millions of dollars profit annually from Indian Point.”
She added, "After Indian Point has closed, we will no longer have to
face headlines like “NUKE LEAK TAINTED WELLS.”
review long overdue for Indian Point, other nuclear plants
By DEVLIN BARRETT
Associated Press Writer
November 1, 2005, 3:39 PM EST
WASHINGTON -- A long-awaited federal review of security at Indian Point
and other nuclear power plants in New York is months overdue,
infuriating some New York lawmakers.
The national review was prompted by Rep. Eliot Engel last year based on
concerns about the Indian Point facility in Buchanan, N.Y. Sen. Hillary
Rodham Clinton later expanded the Coast Guard effort to survey the
vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants throughout the country.
The Coast Guard was directed to assess the plants' vulnerabilities to
terror attacks from the water. The report to Congress was due Aug. 5,
almost three months ago.
"I'm told the report is written but that they're still vetting it, this
and that, and every other excuse," Engel, who represents parts of
Westchester and the Bronx, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
"I don't believe it and I really don't care. They're required to report
to Congress by a certain date and by golly they're supposed to do it by
that date," he said.
Indian Point is located about 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan.
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, residents in the surrounding
suburbs have argued the facility is not properly protected from
potential terrorism, despite assurances by federal regulators and the
company that operates the power plant, Entergy Nuclear Northeast.
Clinton, D-N.Y., said the report was needed not just for Indian Point,
but for other nuclear sites in upstate New York, including Rochester and
Oswego, and similar plants around the country.
"Indian Point and New York's other nuclear power plants are all located
on the water, and it is important that the Coast Guard evaluate whether
they are vulnerable to terrorist attack from the water," Clinton said.
Coast Guard spokeswoman Angela McArdle said the review is taking longer than
a year because it involves a number of agencies, and has been expanded to look
at more than just water-borne terror threats.
"The Coast Guard and the other agencies are still doing reviews and
they're still writing up their recommendations," said McArdle.
She said the review for Indian Point is complete, and the results are
now in the hands of Department of Homeland Security officials.
Security reviews have yet to be done for 29 of the 40 nuclear power
plants at issue, McArdle said. She said it was unclear when the work
would be completed.
The Bush administration has missed dozens of congressional deadlines for developing
ways to safeguard infrastructure, particularly air, sea, and
The top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee blamed the Department
of Homeland Security for being sluggish and unresponsive to lawmakers' concerns,
while some of the agency's defenders fault Congress for imposing too many deadlines.
The department has to submit 256 reports to Congress every year.
Engel said the department is too big to be overworked.
"You're talking about the agency with the most employees, the most
resources, and they are the ones dedicated to overseeing the country's
homeland security. You get the feeling no one is on top of things," said
Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.
Momentum builds to close Indian Point
By Susan Piperato
If anything positive arose from the stunningly inept government response to
the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it has come in the form
of a wake-up call for communities to adopt a "better safe than sorry"
attitude, and be prepared to take matters into their own hands should disaster
But here in the Hudson Valley, home of the Indian Point nuclear power plant
(IP), the public has heard that wake-up call before. With three original reactors,
IP's 43-year history is replete with safety violations, leaks, technical glitches,
even several shutdowns-including permanent closure of IP1. For all its problems,
the plant, owned by the Entergy Corporation, supplies only 2,000 megawatts of
power per day-or approximately 8 percent of total power to New York City and
On September 28, simultaneous press conferences calling for the immediate closing
of Indian Point were held by elected officials in Ulster, Rockland, Orange,
Dutchess, and Westchester Counties. The officials included Nyack's mayor John
Shields, and county legislators Susan Zimet and Hector Rodriguez (Ulster) and
Joel Tyner (Dutchess). The press conferences were held at the major roadways
that would serve as IP evacuation routes for the 20 million people living within
the plant's 50-mile radius.
The press conferences were designed to notify the public that an increasing
number of elected officials consider Indian Point to be a disaster waiting to
happen-a "potential Chernobyl on the Hudson," said Tyner-and if and
when the worst happens, for people living in New York City as well as the Hudson
Valley, there may be "nowhere to run," as claimed by the Indian Point
Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC), a coalition formed following 9/11 of over 70
environmental, health, and public policy organizations concerned about the vulnerability
of the plant to both accidents and acts of terrorism.
Situated on the east bank of the Hudson River just 35 miles north of midtown
Manhattan, IP's placement has been controversial since the first of the plant's
three reactors began operating in 1962, when a Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) official described the location as "insane" given its proximity
to such a densely populated area.
Mark Jacobs, co-director of the Longview School in Cortlandt Manor, co-founder
of IPSEC and a homeowner living four miles from IP, remarked, "If we have
three days to evacuate the area before any radiation is released, we're fine-I
mean, we're fine in that we get away, and then we have to pay mortgages on houses
that are uninhabitable, but we live through it. If we don't have three days,
if it's a release that takes less time, then we have less time, we hit traffic
bottlenecks, chances are we don't make it."
From all accounts, the evacuation plan is as devoid of sense as the plant's
location. The plan, written immediately after the 1979 incident at Three Mile
Island, does not include New York City or the Hudson Valley. It covers only
a 10-mile radius around the plant, and if nuclear industry lobbyists have their
way with the NRC, it may be limited further, to a 2.5-mile radius. However,
says Jacobs, "Radiation doesn't stop at any barriers. We know from Chernobyl
that a 50-mile radius is rendered uninhabitable. An incident at Indian Point
could cause significant casualties, including the city, of over 20 million,
which is 8 percent of the population of the entire US. Can you imagine-New York
City and the Hudson Valley uninhabitable?"
On January 10, 2003, James Lee Witt Associates, Inc., a research firm founded
by the former Federal Emergency Management Agency director, issued a comprehensive
draft assessment of emergency preparedness for the area surrounding IP and portions
of New York City (available at http://www.closeindianpoint.org).
The report called the plan "unworkable," and found that the current
evacuation "system and capabilities are not adequate to...protect the people
from an unacceptable dose of radiation in the event of a release from Indian
Point, especially if the release is faster or larger than the design basis release."
Based on Witt's report, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, and Ulster Counties have
refused to certify the plan.
At present, 52 municipalities and 13 community boards have passed a "Close
Indian Point" resolution, and more than 400 elected and public officials
from the tri-state area, including 11 members of Congress, have called for the
plant's closure. New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, who is running
for governor in 2006, has spoken out against keeping IP running, and has been
holding meetings to explore alternative renewable energy resources in New York
State, says Lisa Rainwater van Suntum, Riverkeeper's Indian Point campaign director.
In 2003, Westchester County legislator Michael Kaplowitz testified before Congress
that: "The reasons to be concerned about IP are many, but can be summarized
as follows: potential operational
difficulties endemic in aging plants, a potential terrorist attack in this new,
difficult age, and questionable security. When combined with the potential for
disastrous consequences to people and property should something untoward happen
and the inability to adequately and timely evacuate area residents within the
penumbra of Indian Point, we, and you, have compelling reasons to be concerned."
This year, several incidents at and involving IP have provoked concern. Last
February, a control rod at IP2 (the first plant in the nation to receive a "red
rating" from the NRC in 2000, necessitating a yearlong shutdown) malfunctioned
twice in less than 24 hours. In June, as the Federal Department of Transportation
announced the end of a special exemption that allowed secret shipments of radioactive
depleted uranium (DU) munitions by the Department of Defense, a DU shipment
from IP began leaking somewhere between New York State and its storage unit
destination in South Carolina, where workmen unloading the truck were exposed.
On September 20, a leak of cobalt and cesium occurred in IP2's spent-fuel pool.
Although the leak initially went unannounced by Entergy for three weeks, it
was eventually reported on the company's website as posing "no threat"
to the populace; however, says Riverkeeper's Suntum, the website's wording has
since been changed to "no immediate threat." According to Suntum,
as of press time in mid-October, the leak was continuing at the rate of one
liter of radioactive material per day. In late September, the plant's 156 sirens
failed the mandatory emergency test for the third month in a row. Senator Hillary
Rodham Clinton has demanded that the NRC require Entergy to provide backup power
for the sirens within 18 months. On October 5, tritium (a radioactive isotope
of the element hydrogen) was discovered in the plant's sampling well. At press
time, it had not yet been determined whether this finding was related to the
In the wake of 9/11, nuclear power plants in general and IP in particular became
flashpoints for debate. It is known that IP was flown over and used by the terrorists
on 9/11 as a navigational marker. Later, maps and floor plans for several American
nuclear power plants were found in Afghan caves vacated by Al Qaeda members.
Whether terrorists would ever actually attack IP is anyone's guess. However,
Imagining the Unimaginable, an HBO/Cinemax documentary, shows that small aircraft
hovering over the plant go unnoticed and undeterred. IP's security chief testified
on film to inept staff training-despite being scripted toward security team
victory, the guards playing the roles of terrorists still managed to win entry
to the plant-and was promptly fired.
IP's licenses for plants 2 and 3 expire in 2013 and 2015, respectively, and
Entergy is applying for 20-year extensions. Westchester, Rockland, Ulster, and
New Jersey's Hudson County, along with several municipalities, have passed resolutions
against IP's license renewal. Legislators from these and other Hudson Valley
counties plan to hold regular press conferences to update the public on the
fight against relicensing as well as IP's problems. For more information, contact
Susan Zimet at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (845) 255-2117. To find out how to help, visit http://www.riverkeeper.org
for a list of "What You Can Do" and "Eighteen Reasons Why Indian
Point Should be Safely Decommissioned."
Copyright © 2005 Luminary
Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.
County executive candidates spar
in key debate
THE JOURNAL NEWS
publication: October 27, 2005)
— Things got testy between Republican Rob Astorino and County Executive
Andrew Spano during a televised debate last night as the two candidates
sparred relentlessly on taxes and public safety issues, including
their first head-to-head debate, Astorino repeatedly accused the Democrat
Spano of being "out-of-touch" with the needs of struggling
families and allowing county property taxes to surge by nearly 40
percent in recent years. The taxes, he said, had driven many families
to leave the county.
has inflicted more financial pain on Westchester families than Andy
Spano," Astorino said at one point during the debate. "He
blames (state) mandates. He blames Medicaid. He blames everybody but
accused Astorino of distorting his administration's record and sought
throughout the session to depict the GOP challenger as an inexperienced
politician who would say anything to get elected. He also took aim
at Astorino's position on Indian Point, attacking him for not being
a more vocal critic of the plant's owner, Entergy.
is a puppet of Entergy," Spano said. "And I would not expect
him to protect me if he was county executive."
a county legislator from Mount Pleasant, responded that safety at
the plant would be his top priority and knocked the Spano administration's
emergency planning, including the absence of elaborate drills. He
also criticized Spano for not doing enough to prepare for an emergency
at Kensico Dam, which he labeled a "far greater terrorist target"
than the nuclear plants.
less than two weeks remaining before Election Day, the debate likely
represented Astorino's best chance to get his message directly to
voters. Sponsored by cable station News 12, it was carried live to
subscribers throughout Westchester and will also be re-broadcast at
various times over the next few days.
who served on the Mount Pleasant town council before becoming a county
legislator in 2004, cast himself as one of many residents struggling
to raise a family in an ever-more expensive Westchester and criticized
Spano for the 38 percent jump in Westchester's property tax levy that
took place over three years, beginning with the 2002 budget.
rejected Astorino's criticism and, as he has throughout his re-election
campaign, took credit for stabilizing and streamlining Westchester's
budget in the face of extreme financial pressure from expensive state-mandated
programs like Medicaid. He noted that the county's 2005 budget contained
no property tax increase and the outlook for 2006 was also bright.
had seven budgets," Spano said. "Three we decreased taxes,
two of the largest decreases in 30 years. One, this year, zero. ...
I've kept the lid on taxes."
replied that Spano was "living in another world. I don't know
what planet he is on."
defended his administration's response to both the ongoing fiscal
crisis at the Westchester Medical Center and the spring strike by
drivers at Liberty Bus Lines, which shut down Bee-Line bus service
for nearly two months.
the Medical Center, Spano said he inherited a poorly-run facility
riddled with patronage appointments and has worked to improve its
management and provide the fiscal assistance it needs to stay open.
as he has since the earliest days of the bus strike, blamed the drivers'
union for the strike and said his widely-criticized decision to travel
to China was proper. The trip, which had been planned for weeks, was
necessary to promote economic development and help Pace University
set up operations in China.
said both issues demonstrated Spano's poor leadership. The Spano needs
to accept a greater share of the responsibility for the medical center's
financial crisis and be more forthcoming about how the facility will
be turned around, he argued.
candidates are scheduled to debate again at 8 p.m. today at Pace University
in White Plains.
chair pledges greater oversight of nuclear plant
25, 2005, 1:09 PM EDT
-- The head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has pledged to boost oversight
of the Indian Point nuclear plants after the apparent leak of a radioactive
isotope, aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday.
Clinton, D-N.Y., met with NRC chairman Nils Diaz, who told her he would announce
in coming days "enhanced oversight ... with respect to both the leaks and
the emergency notification system," said the senator's spokesman, Philippe
Diaz didn't spell out exactly what the enhancements would be, but they could
include additional reporting requirements and closer monitoring of the site.
"They already have sent additional inspectors to Indian Point to check
our work," said Jim Steets, a spokesman for Indian Point's owner Entergy
"They're more than welcome to send more people, we're all on the same side
of this issue," he said.
Entergy and the NRC said last week that low levels of tritium, a radioactive
isotope, have been found in water at the bottom of six sampling wells on the
Indian Point property in Buchanan, N.Y.
The tritium may be the result of a leak from Indian Point 2's spent fuel pool,
first detected in August.
In one of the wells, the amount of tritium found was slightly above the federal
standard permitted for drinking water. However, none of the wells, which are
20 to 30 feet deep, are used for drinking water or for anything other than sampling
The water is believed to have leaked from a 40-foot-deep pool, which holds the
highly radioactive fuel assemblies that have been used in the nuclear reactor.
Experts are not sure if there is a new leak or if the contaminated water could
have come from a previous, already-repaired leak and just remained for years
in the ground.
Tritium, which is used in a range of products from watch faces to nuclear bombs,
is present in nature in tiny amounts and is also a byproduct of the reactors.
The company is also wrestling with the failure of emergency sirens meant to
warn surrounding communities.
Last week, a majority of the sirens in Orange County did not work during a test,
and a similar test last month in Rockland County also failed.
The sirens have been a near-constant headache for Entergy, which has pledged
to replace the entire system within the next two years.
2005 Newsday Inc.
for Indian Point
The Indian Point failure story continued last week as 10 emergency sirens in
Orange County failed to sound in a test of the nuclear facility's backup alert
system. This was the fourth successive test in which some sirens failed to sound
and is especially disturbing since the latest test was held to correct major
problems uncovered in Rockland County in a test last month.
County Executive Ed Diana called the results unacceptable and said he's asked
the Nuclear Regulatory Agency for another test within 30 days. That's certainly
appropriate, but when a significant number of sirens fail to sound every time
the Hudson River plant tests them, residents living in the emergency evacuation
area have a right to worry.
of the plant point to the regular failure of sirens and what they say are unrealistic
traffic control plans to argue that Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the plant owner,
cannot conduct a reliable emergency evacuation and so the plant should be closed.
If those sirens keep failing, Entergy won't be able to drown out the chorus
of people saying the same thing.
Point sirens fail in Orange County
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: October 19, 2005)
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano yesterday announced a plan
to hook county residents up to information about possible emergencies
via their e-mail and text messaging. Spano said residents who sign up
would be able to receive information about major storms or some other
disaster, including what they might need to do or where they should
go. The system would supplement county information distributed through
the media and other outlets. For more information, log on to www.westchestergov.com
and click on the emergency banner at the top of the page. All information
will be kept confidential.
A four-county test of Indian Point's emergency siren system
turned up problems for the second consecutive month yesterday when 10 of Orange
County's 16 sirens failed to sound during a morning check of the notification
network's backup system.
but four of the system's 156 sirens worked during a test of the primary network
that was held 30 minutes later but officials from Westchester, Putnam, Rockland
and Orange counties expressed concern about a wholesale failure for one county
after a similar event occurred Sept. 14 in Rockland.
outraged. We have to have this fixed immediately. We need redundancy in our
system," Orange County Executive Edward Diana said late yesterday afternoon.
"I'm sending a letter out now demanding another test in the next 30 days
and a review by the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) of what is done on the system
between now and then."
Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns the Buchanan nuclear
plants, said the company was still sorting out what went wrong yesterday.
right, of course," Steets said of Diana's comments. "We need to do
something to reassure everyone that the siren system will work."
said the company had tracked down the causes of software problems from last
month's failure and earlier siren problems and had rectified those, but yesterday's
malfunction hadn't shown a definitive cause.
said the problem appears to have been with the backup radio transmission to
the 10 malfunctioning sirens, which might indicate that there was a frequency
problem. The sirens worked when the system was tested without the back-up radios.
acknowledged, however, that a problem with controlling the sirens cropped up
when Orange County officials tried to push their backup system button a second
time and ended up sounding Putnam County's sirens.
will be thoroughly discussed (tomorrow) morning," said Adam Stiebeling,
Putnam's top emergency management official for Indian Point. "We need to
verify that the siren software is working properly."
four counties within the 10-mile evacuation zone of the nuclear plants have
already agreed to meet with Entergy officials on the sirens, to see what progress
the company has made in its vow to replace the decades-old system. Now that
meeting will include significant discussion of the past as well as the future.
Sutton, Westchester's top emergency management official, said the mix-up of
which county could activate which sirens presents a new problem.
disturbing to us," Sutton said. "We want to get to the root cause
of what happened in that case, and we want to ensure that no one else can break
into the system and set off the sirens."
an emergency, the sirens are supposed to rotate several times, notifying residents
in all directions to turn on radios and televisions for more information.
officials were visibly relieved yesterday as they tested the sirens at the county's
emergency management center and were able to hear the undulating high-pitched
hum out the back door of the building. However, they weren't happy to learn
that the Lower Hudson Valley's problem had moved from them to their neighbors
in Orange County.
have a real problem with the system," Rockland emergency official Dan Greeley
said of Entergy. "And they're going to have to do something to repair it
until it can be replaced."
Point re-licensing billboard is an important reminder about hopefully limited
time of plants
County News, October 13, 2005
clear the only realistic way to have the Indian Point nuclear power plants,
located in an area on the shores of the Hudson River where 20 million people
live within a 50-mile radius, shut down is for the licenses of the two operating
reactors to not be renewed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Which is why WestCAN, part of
the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC), should be applauded for raising
public awareness about that vital issue with its recently erected billboard
on Route 202 in Cortlandt, that has caught many people's attention.
Entergy, which has invested millions
of dollars in the aging plants in Buchanan, is not simply going to walk away,
so it's essential that pressure be put on the NRC to seriously look at every
aspect of the plants, including its shaky history, when it considers re-licensing
the plants for another 20 years.
The NRC's history is questionable
in itself in the way it has basically turned a blind eye to the problems at
Indian Point, so an intense lobbying effort is needed to open its eyes and convince
them that having a nuclear plant that was built to last 30 years continue operating
in a heavily populated area where such a facility should never have been situated
is a major risk that should not be taken.
The licenses for Indian Point
2 and Indian Point 3 expire in 2013 and 2015 respectively, and the NRC requires
the re-licensing process to begin no later than five years before the expiration
It's been rumored, but never
confirmed, that Entergy is planning to start the process for Indian Point as
early this summer, which makes the WestCAN billboard perfectly timed.
Obviously, Entergy is never pleased
with any attention directed at its plants since their main priority is turning
a profit, but the ludicrous reaction of one of its spokespersons to the billboard
in itself can't be ignored.
When asked about the advertising,
Jim Steets actually remarked, "The whole issue of Indian Point has been
beat to death. People have run out of interest."
That's what Steets and Entergy
officials want to happen, but, of course, anyone with a pulse knows that's not
As long as Indian Point remains
open, and continues to be a serious threat to the safety of millions of people
in the region, people will remain interested in it.
It's a major issue in this year's
elections and hopefully behind-the-scenes talks that have apparently occurred
with Entergy, the NRC and Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano will produce
a final result that will remove a major worry for thousands of families.
Entergy may not want to admit
it, but its time will soon be up at Indian Point. Thankfully, groups like WestCAN
are keeping a close eye on the watch.
focuses attention on nuke plant relicensing
on Route 202 that has drawn attention once again to the future of
County News, October 13, 2005
A group dedicated to closing and decommissioning the Indian Point nuclear power
plants in Buchanan has brought new attention to its cause.
A billboard was recently erected off Route 202 in Cortlandt by WestCAN, one
of several environmental, health and public policy organizations that formed
the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) shortly after the terrorist attacks
of September 11, 2001.
The billboard, which costs about $700 a month and will be in place for at least
six months, urges passersby to oppose any efforts by Entergy to have the controversial
nuclear plants relicensed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
"The community surrounding the Indian Point nuclear power plant has repeatedly
shown its desire for the Indian Point nuclear power plants to be closed,"
said Mark Jacobs, a local activist with WestCan.
"This billboard brings essential information to area residents: namely
that Entergy plans to run these plants for 20 years longer than its original
license (which was for 30 years)," Jacobs said. "We expect citizens'
outrage to be loud and clear when they realize Entergy wants to risk their lives
by keeping an old, run-down plant operating well past the nuclear plant's planned
The current license for the Indian Point 2 reactor expires in 2013, with the
license for Indian Point 3 expiring in 2015.
Entergy must apply for a new license from the NRC at least five years prior
to the current licenses expiring, which has led some to speculate the company
may apply sooner.
In fact, Entergy has already reserved a slot with the NRC this summer, which
may or may not be to discuss Indian Point's future operation, since they also
own eight other nuclear plants throughout the country.
Licenses for two of those plants, Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim Nuclear in Massachusetts,
both expire in 2012. The license for the James Fitzpatrick plant expires in
Several lawmakers, including Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano and County
Legislator Michael Kaplowitz (D/Somers), have filed papers with the NRC in an
attempt to change the relicensing requirements.
Spano told North County News this week he has been negotiating with Entergy
to have the company consider providing an alternative form of energy to the
"It's in their best interests to make a deal," Spano said. "You
don't just close a nuclear plant. It will take three to five years to replace
Approximately 20 million people live within 50 miles of the Indian Point plants.
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets scoffed at the importance of the billboard, which
he said he hadn't seen yet.
"They've done this before. We're just not that fazed by it," he said
yesterday (Tuesday). "We don't think people are going to pay attention
to the sign. Our feeling is that people are going to dislike it. The whole issue
of Indian Point has been beat to death. People have run out of interest, and
the sign is funded by people with extremist views."
on Indian Point evacuation plan
I inched my way across the span of Interstate 10 that took me west of New Orleans
at a nerve-racking 0.2 miles per hour on Aug. 28, I couldn't help but think
that I would never make it out alive. There I was, moving at a snail's pace,
in the midst of an emergency, over a highway eight lanes wide in most parts.
While I was hopelessly stuck in Louisiana, my mind was wandering a little closer
to home — to good old Indian Point.
How have we, the citizens
affected by these problems, allowed our government to play dodge ball with us
on issues that, however exaggerated they may be, paint an apocalyptic picture
of our back yards? At the risk of politicizing an issue of our safety and well-being,
I cannot help but pose this question to everyone living within the 10-mile evacuation
zone around the Indian Point complex, including Gov. George Pataki, a resident
of Garrison. I would include Rep. Sue Kelly, a resident of Katonah, which lies
just outside the danger zone. I know that those concerned with these issues
are often marginalized as a collection of radicals or tree-hugging hippies who
have no regard for pragmatism, but in all seriousness, what is being done to
ensure our safety?
Displaced until January
from Tulane Law School, I now work in a public school in northern Westchester.
As part of a government-mandated safety protocol, we are responsible for carrying
out a certain number of emergency drills each year to simulate a disaster at
Indian Point. A drill, as I've learned to understand the term, is a sort of
practice — a way of perfecting one's response to a situation should that situation
arise. What would be laughable if it weren't so tragic is that these drills
are not at all practice because everyone participating in them knows very well
that the real thing will go down very differently. We may be kidding ourselves
to think that bus drivers will be there to transport our students to safety.
We may be kidding ourselves to think that teachers and administrators will remain
on-site to ensure the safety of their students and not run off to ensure the
safety of their own families. We are definitely insane, however, to think that
the word "plan" would mean anything in the wake of an event at Indian
Such plans seem to
be our government's response to Indian Point: "Don't worry about that ticking
time bomb in your back yard, sir, for should it go off, we've drawn a map of
which roads you should take to escape."
If all eight lanes
of I-10 didn't cut it, how in the world is Route 6 or the Taconic going to measure
It is our duty and
obligation as citizens, as taxpayers and as potential victims to ask more of
our leaders — perhaps to lead. Rep. Kelly's Web site does not mention the Indian
Point complex even once, not even on a page titled "Working to help Westchester
I realize the risk
of a disastrous event at Indian Point is probably small, but the magnitude of
such an event means any risk at all is too much risk for us to bear the burden
of. We want to know that the plant is secure. We want to know that the materials
used in the plant are secure. We want to know that there's a better answer to
containment and accidents than an embarrassing evacuation plan.
Now, really, is that
too much to ask?
Indian Point emergency plan?
Greenwich Times Editorial
October 10, 2005
Open discussion about the situation at Indian Point nuclear power plant
in Westchester County, N.Y., the closest such facility to this area, is
worthwhile in light of questions that being raised about emergency
preparedness. For that reason, we applaud Connecticut Attorney General
Richard Blumenthal for seeking hearings.
But it's important to recognize that planning a mass evacuation in the
event of a major nuclear accident or terrorist attack is impractical.
Not only is our region within a 50-mile radius of the Indian Point
facility, but so is New York City. It's been estimated that more than 11
million people live within that distance from the nuclear plant.
That said, the twin nuclear reactors at Indian Point in Buchanan, N.Y.,
have been the focus of safety concerns for years. More recently,
officials in nearby municipalities in Westchester County have been
outraged by a malfunction in the siren warning system that is to alert
nearby residents about the release of radiation. Not only did a test of
the system earlier this year prove unsatisfactory, but there was no
siren warning when a small amount of radiation was release from the
facility Sept. 1, as the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported
The siren system wouldn't directly affect this municipality, but it is
important for such notification measures to operate properly to ensure
that more distant communities, such as ours, would also know about
mishaps. If warnings for relatively minor problems aren't sounded, what
would happen in the event of a serious incident?
When Mr. Blumenthal last week filed his request for a review of the
radiological emergency preparedness plan for Indian Point with the
Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said he wasn't trying to shut
down the nuclear plant. But plenty of Connecticut individuals and state
and local officials have wondered about the safety of having a nuclear
electrical generating facility so nearby.
Concerns about Indian Point's security were voiced after the 9/11
terrorist attack, leading to improvements on the part of the plant's
owners and government authorities. But similar worry about the siren
warning system two years ago appears not to have made a difference.
Meanwhile, there is new emphasis on preparing for catastrophic disasters
in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, making Mr. Blumenthal's
request to FEMA particularly pertinent. We hope the federal agency,
whose slow and inadequate response to the hurricanes has prompted
federal hearings, will be thorough and businesslike in this matter.
The need for a dialogue is real and it isn't new. Months before the
hurricanes ravaged the Gulf Coast, Mr. Blumenthal said he was concerned
that the public didn't have a good understanding of what kind of
emergency response had been planned if this nuclear plant were to be the
scene of terrorism or a mishap that led to a significant release of
radioactivity. While preliminary discussions on the topic took place at
least informally among officials in various municipalities two years
ago, no formal plan by the state of Connecticut, the NRC, FEMA or any
government agency has been made public.
Now that Gov. M. Jodi Rell has ordered officials to prepare plans for
emergency evacuations in Connecticut if a storm similar to Katrina were
to head our way, we believe it's important for those in our area and
elsewhere in Connecticut to know what plan the state would implement if
Indian Point -- or any other nuclear plant within the state or near its
borders -- were to release radiation. Mr. Blumenthal's action should
help to do that.
Copyright (c) 2005, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.
New York Times, Westchester
FEMA Seal of Approval
were rightly angered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's inept response
to the Hurricane Katrina disaster and alarmed by the chaotic evacuation of Houston
before Hurricane Rita in which as many as 2.5 million people were stranded on
highways that had become parking lots.
colossal planning failures should prompt a re-examination of the agency's assurances
about the workability of the emergency plan for the Indian Point nuclear power
plant, which is about 35 miles from Times Square. An investigation is all the
more appropriate since the authorities who approved Indian Point's emergency
plan are Joe Allbaugh and Michael Brown, two of the discredited bureaucrats
responsible for the agency's botched response to Hurricane Katrina.
9/11, the agency identified a terrorist attack on New York and a hurricane in
New Orleans as two of the most likely disasters facing our nation. Any credible
list of possible terrorist targets in New York would include Indian Point, which
the 9/11 commission report revealed may have been on the original hit list for
the 2001 attacks. Moreover, casual observation of the power plant, buttressed
by various government and company reports, demonstrate that Indian Point is
virtually undefended against an attack by water or air.
these vulnerabilities, the agency has ignored overwhelming evidence that Indian
Point's emergency evacuation plan won't work.
Point's license requires its owners to demonstrate that there is a workable
evacuation plan in place. In an exhaustive 270-page report on Indian Point's
emergency preparedness, James Lee Witt, a former FEMA director, criticized virtually
every aspect of the plan and concluded that Indian Point's disaster response
system was not adequate to protect the public from radiation releases from Indian
Witt said that Indian Point's emergency plan does "not consider the possible
ramifications of a terrorist caused event." He emphasized that an evacuation
caused by a terrorist attack would be impossible given the area's congested
roads, population density and the near certainty that New Yorkers far outside
the 10-mile evacuation zone would try to flee, thus confounding the evacuation
of people closer to the plant. It doesn't take an expert to know that few of
the 20 million people living within a 50-mile radius of the plant are going
to wait around for officials to tell them if they and their families could be
exposed to radiation. Not before Hurricane Katrina, not now, not ever.
the exception of FEMA, nearly everyone who has investigated Indian Point's emergency
evacuation plan has concluded that it does not work and cannot be made to work.
This includes most of the government officials and more than 200 first responders
- police officers, firefighters, bus drivers, school teachers and hospital workers
- charged with executing the plan. Three of the four county governments (Orange,
Rockland and Westchester) and the State of New York have refused to certify
the plan is adequate to protect public health and safety. More than 400 politicians
- including 11 members of Congress - and 500 local businesses have called for
the plant's closing, citing, among other things, Indian Point's patently unworkable
in 2003, despite overwhelming evidence that the plan was fatally flawed, Mr.
Allbaugh and Mr. Brown approved it, prompting Sue Kelly, a Republican congresswoman
from Westchester, to accuse the agency of "bureaucratic rubber stamping
in its most grotesque and dangerous form."
year, in response to an outcry from the public and politicians, FEMA promised
to improve its biennial drill assessing emergency preparedness by subjecting
Indian Point to a mock terrorist attack. But the agency, which assumed the mock
scenario would not result in a release of radiation, might as well have been
testing emergency preparedness at a local shopping mall.
a September 2002 drill in which the hapless plan passed with practically flying
colors, one of the agency's few suggestions for improvement was to deploy more
toll booth operators on Interstate 87 to handle increased traffic. As if New
Yorkers are going to stop and pay a toll as they're fleeing a nuclear disaster!
seems that, in approving Indian Point's absurd plans for evacuation, Mr. Brown
has placed the same kind of bet that caused the government's fiasco in New Orleans
- in this case a hope that Indian Point will not suffer an accident or terrorist
attack on this administration's watch.
that Mr. Allbaugh and Mr. Brown are gone, New York's leaders from both political
parties should demand a rescission of Indian Point's emergency plan approval
and an independent investigation into FEMA's unsubstantiated decision to certify
what the rest of us know is a bad joke.
Presses FEMA on Indian Point at House Hearing
Urges Agency to Address Evacuation Plans
WASHINGTON – At a Congressional hearing today before the House Transportation
Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency
Management, U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly pressed the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) to reassess emergency evacuation plans related to the
Indian Point nuclear power plants in the wake of evacuation problems
on the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina.
“The soundness of the
emergency preparedness plans for the area surrounding the plant has
always been a top-level concern in my district. And I’m sorry to say
that confidence in the plans is not nearly as strong as it should be,
and with good reason,” Kelly told FEMA Chief Operating Officer Ken Burris.
Kelly went on to cite
the Witt Report – the independent review commissioned by Governor Pataki
and released in 2003 that identified serious problems related to emergency
preparedness around Indian Point. “Due to the inadequacies exposed by
Katrina, can we expect FEMA to conduct another review of the evacuation
plan for the area surrounding Indian Point?” Kelly asked Burris.
Kelly also questioned
why there was a three-week delay last month in notifying local officials
and the public about a leak from one of the spent fuel pools at Indian
Point 2. After conducting a comprehensive review of Indian Point, officials
from the Department of Homeland Security and Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) met with county and local officials at Kelly’s request. “They
briefed local officials on conditions at the plant, painting a rosy
picture of safety and security,” Kelly told Burris. “It was learned
the following week that these officials neglected to mention a leak
in the spent fuel pool, a fact they knew going into the meeting but
neglected to share.”
“Mr. Burris, how can
we expect people to have confidence in FEMA’s ability to help evacuate
them in the event of an emergency if they can’t even be counted on to
share basic information on safety levels at the plant?” Kelly asked.
Kelly also reiterated local concerns about Indian Point’s lack of a
backup electricity source independent of the energy grid for its emergency
sirens. “FEMA met with county officials on July 6, and in that meeting
said they agreed with county officials that there was cause for concern
after their evaluation of the siren notification system.
FEMA officials at that
meeting agreed to issue a formal written report to the NRC on the findings
of that evaluation. They promised that report would be issued by the
end of September. It’s now October and counties still haven’t received
anything. What is the status of this report?”
Burris was unable to
answer Kelly’s questions in-depth at the hearing, so FEMA officials
will follow-up with her to address her concerns.
After the hearing, Kelly
said: “Our confidence in the evacuation plans for the areas surrounding
Indian Point will not improve without a more serious and concerted effort
by FEMA,” Kelly said. “We need FEMA to address the concerns raised in
the Witt Report. We need to know for certain that FEMA is fully prepared
to handle any possible emergency at Indian Point and help every person
in our area who would be affected.”
seeks review of Indian Point evacuation plans
Attorney General Richard
Blumenthal has a grim forecast of what would happen if nuclear gas was in the
air and people here had to evacuate.
"The clogged corridors
of interstates 95 and 84 — already incapable of accommodating normal rush hour
traffic — would be completely gridlocked in mass evacuation resulting from a
nuclear plant incident," Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal sent a letter
Monday to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency — an agency heavily criticized
for its hurricane response in the South — demanding a review and revision of
the evacuation plans for the plant.
James Steets, spokesman
for the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y., doesn't think such a review
is needed. The plant is safe, and if a leak did happen it would not travel more
than five to 10 miles, he said.
"There would not
be a widespread disaster like what we witnessed in New Orleans or Mississippi,"
Steets said. "We are prepared for the extremely slim possibility of a radioactive
release accident that would be big enough to make us want to evacuate."
People would have to
evacuate at least 10 miles from the plant, Steets said. The radiation, if it
got loose, would not reach more than five miles and would disintegrate in the
air after that, he said. The radiation would not likely escape the thick containers,
he said, but if it did it would be in a gaseous form.
Indian Point Energy
Center is a nuclear power plant near the Hudson River that generates electrical
power. It was built in 1974 and has been the target of environmental groups
that say the plant poses a danger to surrounding areas. The plant includes two
nuclear reactors in one of the most populated areas in the country, about 11
million people within a 50-mile radius. Hundreds of thousands of those are in
Connecticut, Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal said the
Radiological Emergency Preparedness plans "are false and dangerous."
conducted at Indian Point have demonstrated the failure of even the minimal
efforts taken to date to protect the public," he said.
was referring to a September safety test that showed that some emergency sirens
did not work properly on three occasion.
Only two of the 156
warning sirens did not work, Steets said, and those sirens were repaired. Meanwhile,
he said, the plant's emergency response drill was observed and approved by FEMA
and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Blumenthal, a potential
Democratic candidate for governor in 2006, made his request about one week after
Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell issued an executive order requiring all major cities
and towns in Connecticut to review their emergency response plans.
The federal agencies
observe every nuclear plant every two years, said FEMA spokeswoman Barbara J.
participated in this exercise just last year in June 2004 and proved their ability
to provide for the health and safety of the surrounding community," she
Still, Ellis said,
the agency would consider any request made by the state.
Steets maintains that
such requests are unnecessary.
"When we hear
people talk about traffic jams in Connecticut, we know there is no reason to
move people that far away," he said. "I don't know what the attorney
general is talking about. I don't think he does either."
A radiological release
at the plant might be unlikely, Blumenthal said, but the consequences if it
does happen are catastrophic.
"If the federal
emergency planners have learned nothing else from Katrina and Rita, it should
be to do the planning before the disaster, not after," Blumenthal said.
Contact Fred Lucas
at email@example.com or at (203)
Point nuclear plant evac called inadequate
— Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is afraid a disaster at the nuclear-power
complex in New York's Westchester County could paralyze evacuation corridors
for nearly 12 million people in New Jersey, New York and southwestern
He asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency Monday to arrange
public hearings on the issue and reconsider approval of an emergency-preparedness
plan for a 50-mile radius around the two power plants, which provide
Blumenthal said the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes should have taught
FEMA officials the highways such as Interstates 95 and 84 would become
parking lots if there is a region-wide evacuation.
But a spokesman for the Indian Point Energy Center near Peekskill,
N.Y., said the two reactors are safe and Blumenthal is erroneously trying
to compare widespread hurricane damage with a nuclear accident or attack
on the two plants at Indian Point.
James Steets, manager of external communications at Indian Point, said
in a Monday interview Blumenthal "has no clue" and is merely
trying to score political points. But Judd Everhart, a spokesman for
Gov. M. Jodi Rell, said the governor agrees with Blumenthal on the need
to review plans for the 50-mile emergency zone.
That zone consists of an arc that stretches from New Haven on the east,
through Litchfield County, up the Hudson River past Kingston, most of
northern New Jersey, New York City and the eastern third of Long Island.
Blumenthal, during a news conference, warned that Indian Point, along
the Hudson River in Buchanan, N.Y, is inadequately prepared for a radiological
emergency that could affect 11.8 million people in the tri-state area,
including hundreds of thousands in Connecticut.
"What we have at Indian Point essentially is a disaster waiting
to happen," Blumenthal said. "Right now we have a plan that's
completely false and dangerous in the assumptions about what evacuation
is possible and what warning will be given," Blumenthal said.
Displaying a regional map, Blumenthal said the 50-mile radius includes
some of the most clogged interstate highways in the nation. Connecticut
cities including Danbury, Bridgeport and Stamford would be massively
"Population would move from New York areas into Connecticut and
we have essentially a plan that dates from 1996 without significant
revision," Blumenthal said. "We're saying to FEMA, 'Learn
from your mistakes; don't miscalculate again.' We need a real plan and
not the kind we saw in Rita and Katrina."
Blumenthal said it is FEMA's responsibility to have effective plans,
adding that New York state has not issued a letter of certification
since 2003 because counties around Indian Point have not approved an
about evacuating region abound
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: September 25, 2005)
Rita Joachim didn't have much faith in the emergency evacuation plans for the
lower Hudson Valley before monster hurricanes hit Louisiana and Texas, and after
hearing firsthand accounts from former residents of the area who fled Houston
last week, she's even more suspicious.
"It is positively preposterous to think that there is any
chance that people could get out of here," said Joachim, a 48-year-old
printer. "Maybe at the beginning of a five-day warning period, but even
at three and a half days, we couldn't. We are so locked in here."
Two of Joachim's best friends, fellow graduates of Ramapo High
School, drove their families out of Houston early Thursday, beating many of
the 1 million people who fled the city and using back roads to get safely out
of the storm's reach.
Rene Forman Derewetzky, a former Monsey resident, said she left
at 5 a.m. with a packed car and two kids while her husband was on business in
"I made the decision not to take the major highways,"
Derewetzky said. "The one time that I had to be on a main road, I sat in
traffic. It took me two hours to go 13 miles."
Both women said getting out of the Hudson Valley would be difficult
because of the dense population, the terrain and the overloaded road and transit
"It's a bad situation there because of all the bridges and
people needing to get across them," Derewetzky said of New York's northern
suburbs. "It would be a nightmare."
Joachim said local roads and mass transit have a hard time handling
the morning rush hour, much less a full-scale evacuation.
"It sometimes takes me 40 minutes to go eight miles to work
on the Palisades Interstate Parkway and New Hempstead Road," Joachim said.
"I think the only way to get out in an evacuation would be by bicycle,
but it would have to be a mountain bike with fat tires, because I wouldn't be
riding on paved roads."
County officials on both sides of the Hudson River acknowledge
that continual images of Houston residents turning six-lane roads into one-way
parking lots raised concerns for emergency planners, but overall the experience
there should help Westchester, Rockland and Putnam residents in the long run.
"I think they're doing a pretty good job in Houston,"
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano said. "Everything has a certain
percentage of things that won't go right. Will we be able to get everyone out
if we need to? I'm confident we will. It might not be comfortable for them,
but five days is plenty of time."
Spano predicted a wholesale evacuation would be easier to coordinate
for law enforcement and others directing traffic because residents would be
largely of the same mind and headed in the same directions.
Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said a regional
evacuation would be daunting and likely more difficult than the small-scale
evacuations the counties have handled over the years.
"If you're talking about a mass evacuation like Houston,
similar things would happen here," Vanderhoef said. "The (Palisades
Interstate Parkway), for instance, is only four lanes, even if they're all going
in the same direction. We can take care of evacuating people from one part of
the county to another, but for a large number of people, at some point our roads
will be jammed. The reality is, we're congested without an event."
Rosemary Zory, 39, drives every workday from her home in Kent
to Modern Media in Norwalk, Conn., where she is vice president of human resources.
On Friday, she said she was thinking about evacuations after watching news reports
of cars inching away from the expected onslaught of Hurricane Rita.
"Strategically, planning for an evacuation is no small task.
I don't know how you rally the community to make sure people know what to do
in an event," Zory said. "On a good day, it's hard to get where you're
going. Could you imagine if we had an emergency?"
Hagler Capitalis, 24, a Bronx resident and senior at Purchase
College, SUNY, waited for a bus back home yesterday in White Plains and said
those relying on mass transit to get away during an evacuation better have a
"If it's early enough, they might be able to get everyone
out," Capitalis said. "But if the situation happens fast, people are
going to be stuck. It's all about reaction time. If you don't have the financial
means to get out on your own, you're going to have to make a decision to leave
Joachim's second friend caught in Houston, Peggy Friedrichs, a
former resident of Yonkers and Spring Valley, said patience made a big difference
in the nearly six-hour trip she made to her parents' home in Columbus, Texas,
a trip that usually takes an hour.
"It wasn't exactly harrowing," she said. "It just
the editor for September 13, 2005
Indian Point concerns
I am not really
an environmental activist. I don't consider myself overly alarmist. Until the
end of August, I have mostly ignored the concerns about the Indian Point nuclear
power plant and the anxiety surrounding it. Not any more! In addition to the
concern and compassion I feel toward those suffering in Louisiana and Mississippi,
my eyes have been opened to the dangers of Indian Point for those who live downstream.
agency that has been overwhelmed by the disaster unfolding down South, which
could not evacuate the city before Katrina hit, which cannot adequately evacuate
the city after it hit, and which is unable to transport food and water to those
stranded there, is the exact same agency that assures everyone that the evacuation
plan for those living around and south of Indian Point is sound and doable.
I understand they are also trying to sell residents the Brooklyn Bridge.
performance in New Orleans should serve as a clarion wake-up call for all of
us in Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties, as well as New York City residents.
It won't work, folks, regardless of FEMA's assurances.
Wake of Hurricane, New Orleans Nuclear Plant in Jeopardy
by Rita J. King
While the entire city of New Orleans and surrounding areas have been plunged
into a watery blackout, Entergy Corporation is faced with the task of
keeping spent fuel at the Waterford nuclear plant cool to avoid a
potentially deadly situation that could make Hurricane Katrina look like a
gentle preamble to the worst environmental disaster in recorded history.
Some experts and scientists feel that a spent nuclear rod pool, when
severely compromised, could result in a catastrophic fire capable of
dwarfing the Chernobyl tragedy. Others, such as Nuclear Regulatory
Commission spokesperson Victor Dricks, said Wednesday afternoon that the
situation is under control at the Waterford plant, which is owned by the New
Orleans-headquartered Entergy Corporation.
According to NRC spokesperson Eliot Brenner, interviewed on Wednesday
afternoon, the spent fuel rod pool at the Waterford plant is being kept cool
by two backup generators that are being "topped-off" with new fuel
He claims the path to the plant is clear enough to guarantee that the trucks
will be able to continue making the trek, and that another set of generators
have been brought in as a precautionary measure.
The NRC's official website <http://www.nrc.gov>
reveals a checkered safety
record at Waterford when it comes to back-up generators. On April 12, 2004,
the Waterford plant received a letter from Bruce Mallet, the regional NRC
administrator responsible for the area in which the plant is located,
informing Waterford that they had received a "white" warning for a
regarding their back-up diesel generators.
Joseph E. Venable, the director of the Waterford plant, was the recipient of
the letter which read, in part:
"The [white] finding involved the failure to establish appropriate
instructions and accomplish those instructions for installation of a fuel
line for the Train A emergency diesel generator in May 2003. The associated
performance deficiency resulted in uneven and excessive scoring of the fuel
line tubing that ultimately led to a complete 360-degree failure of the fuel
supply line on September 29, 2003, during a monthly surveillance test,
rendering the Train A emergency diesel generator inoperable."
Waterford was given 30 days to supply the NRC with a reply that would
include the reason for the violation, the corrective steps that have been
taken and the results achieved, the corrective steps that will be taken to
avoid further violations, and the date when full compliance will be
NRC spokesman Victor Dricks explained the situation in plain language.
"It's complicated," he said.
In May 2003, he explained, Entergy decided to repair a leak on the fuel line
leading to one of the two back-up diesel generators. They went ahead and
made the repair, Dricks noted, without a written set of instructions or a
detailed analysis of the risk associated with such a move.
In September 2003, during a routine monthly check on the diesel pump, it
failed. NRC subsequently conducted an investigation and found that Waterford
had violated NRC regulations, at which point the plant received a "white"
safety rating, indicating a "moderate to low" safety risk.
The mild white rating was given because the diesel generator had not been
required during an emergency between January and September, Dricks admitted,
and if it had been required and failed, Waterford would have received a more
severe color-related code.
"Only one back-up generator is required to operate the cooling system
indefinitely," he said.
But why didn't Entergy follow protocol?
"According to their analysis, after they crunched the numbers on the risk
significance, they just didn't think it was required," he said, adding
under "normal circumstances," the plant wouldn't need the use of the
generators. NRC disagreed with Entergy's assessment.
Entergy officials requested that spokesperson Diane Park be interviewed
about Waterford, since she is the media representative for that facility,
but a call to her office resulted in an automated message from an operator
that "due to the hurricane," the call could not be placed.
A look through Waterford's safety record on the NRC website reveals a
$110,000 fine on June 16, 1998, when the plant failed to address, among
other issues, that the emergency core cooling system was capable of limiting
peak cladding temperatures to 2200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Waterford, the NRC noted, failed to make timely reports to the NRC and to
develop a corrective action plan within the required time frame.
"Separately and collectively," the NRC noted, "these violations
failure of the Waterford-3 engineering program to: (1) aggressively pursue
such issues when first identified, and (2) to pursue such issues without
prompting by the NRC."
Many scientists and nuclear experts, such as Gordon Thompson, director of
the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Institute for Resource and Security
Studies, believe that failure to protect spent nuclear fuel, which is far
more toxic when removed from reactor cores and stored as waste, could result
in an "apocalypse."
Working on an array of sustainable-energy issues, Thompson's firm claims a
client list that includes the U.S. Department of Energy, the World Health
Organization, and the World Bank. Thompson has been a persistent force in
the nuclear energy scene, frequently trying to persuade facilities to use
what he considers to be a safer method of storage for the lethal spent fuel.
His preferred method is "hardening and dispersal," which involves
spent fuel in casks that are fortified and separated rather than in pools,
which he considers a monumental mistake that could result in unimaginable
While this kind of thought process might be unthinkable to many, so was the
complete devastation of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina created the
nightmare scenario long feared by many local residents, who knew they were
living in a bowl that could be filled with floodwater at any time.
Even a partial loss of fluid, Thompson said, could cause the rods to ignite
and release cesium 137, a lethal radioactive isotope, into the air.
"Once a pool fire gets going, nobody could approach it. It would be a smoky,
slow-burning fire, giving off this cloud of smoke. It would probably hug the
ground and drift downwind," he said. He speaks in terms of epic time,
describing a landscape that would remain uninhabitable for generations.
While experts have tried to sound the alarm about the possibility of a
catastrophic fire, nuclear industry insiders feel such as assessment of the
possible danger is exaggerated.
"We are very confident in the safety of the pools," said Jim Steets,
spokesperson for Entergy Nuclear, which owns the Buchanan, New York,
facility and nine other plants, including Waterford as well as River Bend,
located 24 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, and Grand Gulf, 25 miles south of
Vicksburg. "The danger of a pool fire is so low, it's almost nonexistent.
Even if you take the water out, pool fire is not necessarily an automatic
consequence. It's possible, given a variety of conditions."
While terrorism is the leading concern among many critics who fear the worst
at nuclear plants, Hurricane Katrina has stripped the illusion that a
natural disaster couldn't create the same chaos.
Dricks heartily disagrees that a leak of water from the spent fuel rod pools
at any nuclear plant would cause a massive leak of radiation, partly because
it seems impossible that any plant would let a crisis reach that point.
"The NRC has evaluated this scenario and does not find it credible,"
Waterford shut down on Saturday night at Hurricane Katrina was beating a
horrifically hot and windy path across the Gulf of Mexico. Instability in
the power grid resulted after the storm when power usage dropped due to the
blackout, and Waterford was removed from the grid at that time, Dricks said.
He maintained that despite the blackout experienced by the Gulf Coast, the
plant could go back online at any time if the back-up diesel generators, and
the other pair of back-ups that have been brought in as a precautionary
But there are those who envision a nuclear apocalypse, and the recent lesson
in expecting the unexpected contains a lesson in safety that won't soon be
"Dry-cask storage maximizes protection," says David Lochbaum, nuclear
engineer for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and former consultant
at Indian Point. "The spent fuel rods are harder to attack when stored
way, [and] the amount of radioactivity released would be far less."
"Complacency is really very amazing," Thompson has said. "The
attitude is, 'We don't have to do anything about high-density pools because
the danger of a pool fire is so low.'"
The seventy sirens within Waterford's ten-mile emergency planning zone are
equipped with back-up batteries that Brenner said will be replaced every
meetings to draw officials, activists from region
By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: August 31, 2005)
The Indian Point nuclear power plant will be the focus of area emergency
coordinators, public health officials and environmental activists who plan
to attend Nuclear Regulatory Commission meetings in Maryland today and
tomorrow that will address security at nuclear plants across the nation.
The meetings, which are open to the public, will be run by the agency's
Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response and will deal with issues
such as spent fuel pools and backup power for emergency alert systems, two
areas that have been integral to the region's debate over Indian Point in
Participants will include officials from the Department of Homeland Security
and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Anthony Sutton, Westchester's commissioner of emergency services, said he
would attend the sessions primarily to remind regulators that, while overall
guidelines are important, so is the ability to assess each nuclear plant
"There are many plants that they deal with where, quite honestly, there
more prairie dogs than there are people," Sutton said of the federal nuclear
regulators. "They really need to treat sites, particularly like Indian
Point, as individual sites and not try and use a cookie-cutter approach to
emergency planning or response or guidelines."
Sutton said the New York metropolitan area was not a typical emergency
planning zone for a nuclear power plant, mostly because of the estimated 20
million people who live close enough to Indian Point that they could be
affected by an emergency at the site.
Rockland and Orange counties also will send representatives to Maryland.
Putnam County is not, though the four-county coordinator for emergency
preparedness will attend, Sutton said. The four counties fall within the
10-mile evacuation zone around the plant.
"We're sending people from our Health Department and emergency services,
including our radiological expert, because this a very important issue,"
said C.J. Miller, a spokeswoman for Rockland County Executive C. Scott
Vanderhoef. "This is an opportunity for us to learn more and be part of
regulation review process. In the post-9/11 world, it's very important that
these regulations are revisited and redefined."
Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, Indian Point's owner
and operator, said the company was sending a security official to the
In the two days, federal officials hope to hold round-table discussions on a
variety of topics, including protective actions taken on and and off the
sites of the more than 100 nuclear plants the NRC regulates. They include
drills and other preparation exercises, how quickly the NRC and local
officials are notified in the event of a problem, and alternatives for
alerting the public.
Members of the environmental group Riverkeeper, a leading opponent of Indian
Point, will attend the meetings to emphasize recent problems with Indian
Point's emergency siren system, among other issues.
"We want to have immediate action on the backup siren issue," spokeswoman
Lisa Rainwater said. "We want a direct answer from the NRC on the record
to what they're going to do to address the problem."
Indian Point's owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, has vowed to install backup
power to the sirens or to replace the entire system within 18 months to two
years, a schedule Rainwater said was troubling.
Indian Point needs better notification system
The warning sirens at Indian Point nuclear facility must be dependable.
Yet they've failed three times in less than a month.
This erratic situation can't continue. Residents need to know
if Indian Point is running correctly, and, more importantly, if there's a problem.
Right now, the siren notification system is the only way the plant can communicate
In two cases, the system failed because of power outages. In one
instance, the system's telephone lines failed.
The power outages, in one case, knocked the entire 156-siren system
offline for six hours, the other rendered 20 of the sirens out of commission.
The problems with the telephone lines weren't even discovered by the operators
at Indian Point. It was initially revealed during routine testing by Rockland
Following the weeklong problem with the telephone lines, county,
safety and Entergy officials met with the plant's phone operators to ensure
constant monitoring of the system. Also, phone technicians have pledged to respond
quickly once problems are detected. Such basic safety features should have already
been in place.
Handling of problems must be improved
In the past, phone line problems occurred, but calls to the counties
informed them of the problem and they were fixed without requiring any extensive
documentation about the problem. Such situations must be handled more seriously
Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which runs the facility, is finally
looking into installing a backup system for when the power goes out, as well
as alternative notification plans. The fact Entergy is only willing to address
the situation now, after the latest failures, reflects poorly on the company's
notification commitment. People have been seeking a backup system since the
plant opened, but their concerns have been met with indifference.
Entergy's priorities must include monitoring the phone lines and
getting a backup energy source for power failures. Then, the company can investigate
other ways to notify residents, including possible Internet notification, reverse
911 calls or wireless notification. Neighbors deserve no less.
get 24-hour monitor
The Journal News
to watch for faults in Indian Point warning network
PLAINS - Verizon has promised to continuously monitor the telephone
lines that activate the four-county emergency siren system around
the Indian Point nuclear power plants, Westchester County Executive
Andrew Spano said yesterday.
The 24-hour, seven-day-a-week
surveillance is meant to avoid the kind of problem that arose last week,
when faulty phone lines periodically left the nuclear facility without
the capability to communicate via computer with Westchester, Putnam,
Rockland and Orange counties. Other steps also are being taken to ensure
the notification process properly functions, such as replacing the siren
doing everything in our power to make sure everyone comes together,"
Spano said. "Everyone is taking this as an important issue."
Spano made his comments
following a 90-minute, closed-door meeting with federal and state
emergency officials, utility representatives and leaders from the
four counties. The phone line problems began early Aug. 15 and continued
until Aug. 18, prompting Spano to hold yesterday's meeting.
The malfunctions were
the result of several unrelated glitches, including a loose coaxial
cable and problems in a White Plains switching station. The plant's
owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, and a Westchester emergency official
said Indian Point workers could have sounded the 156 sirens in case
of an emergency at the site, and the counties involved could have
done so using local radio frequencies. Others have noted that the
radio system has yet to be tested. The sirens are meant to alert residents
to turn on radios and TVs for more information during an emergency.
In addition to Verizon's
around-the-clock monitoring, which Spano said should be in place by
the end of the year, Entergy is revamping its own system for checking
the lines and is in the process of replacing the siren system.
"We're doing things
that if a line goes down, we'll know about it right away," Entergy
spokesman Jim Steets said.
Previously, if a line
malfunctioned, it went unnoticed until routine testing revealed the
flaw. If the disruption occurred outside of normal business hours,
such as at night or on a weekend, the incident went unreported until
the next business day - delaying any repairs until then. The line
then would be treated like any other - repairs were made when technicians
became available, Spano and others said.
Spano said Verizon would
immediately dispatch workers to resolve a problem.
Verizon spokesman Cliff
Lee, who did not attend yesterday's meeting, couldn't provide any
Verizon technicians spent
about 20 hours last week repairing the initial problem. Last week's
outages followed two July incidents, when storms resulted in a loss
of power to some or all of the sirens.
"We're pretty committed
to working with Entergy," Lee said.
Verizon's continuous monitoring
would be similar to a home alarm system, where a security company
in a centralized location is alerted to any change in the status of
a home system.
Michael S. Beeman, a spokesman
for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the counties within
the plant's 10-mile evacuation zone need to have confidence in the
emergency notification system, whether it uses sirens or another means
to warn residents of a problem. If they're not, he said, that poses
a problem for Entergy.
"If they're not satisfied
the siren system is effective, their (Entergy's) license continuation
is in jeopardy," said Beeman, referring to the expiration of
Indian Point's operating licenses. The first expires in 2013.
Entergy is looking to
replace the siren system within two years. Elected leaders and anti-Indian
Point groups have long criticized the siren system, pointing out that
some sirens fail to correctly function during quarterly tests, and
have called for a back-up power supply for the system.
Steets said Entergy was
in the information-gathering stage, and the new system could rely
on one or a mix of several technologies - newer sirens, a reverse
911 system (those in the evacuation zone would receive a telephone
message), the Internet, fiber optics or wireless communications.
Rockland Deputy County
Executive Susan Sherwood said any new system had to be "beyond
state of the art" when it's installed. "We're demanding
action, and we're following it intensely," Sherwood said.
Reach Michael Risinit
at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-228-2274.
Copyright (c) The Journal
News. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett
Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.
Point siren song
By BOB BAIRD
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: August 23, 2005)
I've never felt safe living near the Indian Point nuclear plants, and
nothing that's happened during this long, hot summer has been in any way
My primary concern has been the plan devised to evacuate the 10-mile zone
around the plants, which includes parts of four Rockland towns, in case of a
It's always been my belief - and still is - that good people have come up
with the best possible plan for an evacuation.
I also believe it won't work.
This summer, the list of reasons got a little longer.
It doesn't take much to look at the Tappan Zee Bridge almost any afternoon -
especially summer Fridays - to get a preview of what traffic might be like
in the event of an Indian Point emergency. In recent years, we've seen a
simple accident at the wrong time tie up traffic in opposite directions to
Orange County and Connecticut. And we've seen how hard it is to empty the
Palisades Center mall during a bomb scare.
We've been assured and reassured that skeptics like me are wrong and the
evacuation plan will work. Mothers and fathers and grandparents will report
to drive school buses to evacuate other parents' children rather than trying
to find their own. No one will have an accident or run out of gas. No one
will panic or suffer a heart attack as they try to drive to safety. The
roads will remain clear and moving and everyone will do what they're told,
when they're told. No one will decide on his own to leave and everyone just
outside the 10-mile zone will stay put, confident that what they're being
told is complete, accurate and timely.
Even if you buy all that - forgetting that during the Three Mile Island
nuclear emergency, utility management at best underplayed and at worst
outright lied to the governor of Pennsylvania - it's all contingent on one
The warning sirens have to work, letting people who live and work and go to
school inside the 10-mile zone know there's an emergency.
There are periodic tests of that siren system and over the years we've
reported its successes and failures. For the most part, most of the sirens
usually work, giving us a sense that most inside the zone would get the
Not so fast.
This summer it hasn't been a couple of sirens in Westchester or one in
Putnam and two in Rockland, or any similarly low number of failures among
the 156 sirens. In early July, a power outage after a thunderstorm knocked
out the entire system for about six hours. On another occasion, smaller
outages cut power to about 20 sirens.
There are other ways to alert the public, including police, Reverse 911
where it's available and the electronic media, which may have diminished
effectiveness in case of power outages.
But the need for the siren system was viewed seriously enough to bring a
pledge from Entergy Nuclear Northeast, Indian Point's owners, to install a
backup system. It will cost several million dollars, a spokesman says, and
could be in place in about two years.
As if those failures weren't problem enough, they've been bumped up to a new
level, and with it our anxiety.
Several times last week, a Verizon telephone system that allows counties to
activate the sirens dropped out of service without anyone at Indian Point
noticing. There's a backup, but its reliability has been questioned.
Indian Point officials were unaware of the problem last week until Rockland
emergency service officials called to report finding the system down during
a routine test, said Dan Greeley, Rockland deputy commissioner of emergency
By week's end, the system had been out of service several times, which is
pretty remarkable given that everyone should have been watching for repeat
Westchester and Rockland officials reacted quickly, calling for a meeting
with Verizon, Entergy and several state and federal regulatory agencies.
How seriously they'll be taken remains to be seen. Consider that when
counties raised serious doubts about the evacuation plans, federal officials
still certified the plans as workable.
Workable, maybe. Realistic? Not so much. Of course, if the sirens fail, that
would cut down on traffic and the plan might fly.
But so far, concerns over a Sept. 11-style terror attack, worries about the
vulnerability of spent-fuel storage and lack of faith in the evacuation
plans hasn't been enough to shut Indian Point, especially during this long,
hot summer when our biggest fears centered on our air conditioners breaking
Thursday, July 28,
Point to add back-up siren power system
Following two separate power outages within the past two weeks, Entergy
Nuclear Northeast -- owner and operator of the Indian Point nuclear power
plants -- today announced it would install a back-up power system for all
156 sirens within the site's 10-mile emergency planning zone.
The latest power outage came last night as heavy thunderstorms rolled
through the Mid-Hudson region, knocking out 20 sirens for several hours.
Eleven of them were in Westchester, eight were in Rockland and one was in
Orange County. All were back on line as of 9 a.m. today.
Entergy spokesman Larry Gottlieb told MidHudsonNews.com today the company
has tasked its security consultants, Giuliani Partners, to come up with a
plan to provide back-up power for the sirens. He said it was "inexcusable"
to have lost power to the sirens twice in two weeks.
"Local residents deserve the guarantee of backup power for all sirens and
truly hope Entergy expedites the process of installing this backup system,"
said Congresswoman Sue Kelly, who has been pressing the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission on the issue.
"I welcome Entergy's commitment today to make this important change,"
Senator Hillary Clinton. "It's the right thing to do for the safety and
security of the people who live around the plant."
By Peter Asmus
Wednesday, July 6, 2005; A17
The recent call by President Bush to restart a major nuclear power program in
this country in response to concerns about our dependence on foreign energy
sources and global climate change would have Adam Smith rolling in his grave.
There is no power source less compatible with the GOP's love of free markets
and disdain for regulation and subsidy than nuclear fission. Without government
intervention, there simply would be no nuclear industry.
Now, it is true that nuclear energy does not contribute to global climate change.
And the new pebble bed modular reactor may well leak less, greatly reduce the
risks of catastrophic meltdown and use less uranium fuel. But nuclear power
is far from being clean or green. Consider the following:
· In the nuclear fuel process, uranium enrichment depends on great amounts of
electricity, most of which is provided by dirty fossil fuel plants releasing
all of the traditional air pollution emissions not released by the nuclear reactor
itself. Two of the nation's most polluting coal plants, in Ohio and Indiana,
produce electricity primarily for uranium enrichment.
· The operations of nuclear power plants release dangerous air emissions in
the form of radioactive gases, including carbon-14, iodine-131, krypton and
· Uranium mining mimics techniques used for coal, and similar issues of toxic
contamination of local land and water resources arise -- as does the matter
of the unique radioactive contamination hazards to mine workers and nearby populations.
Abandoned mines contaminated with high-level radioactive waste can pose radioactive
risks for as long as 250,000 years after closure.
· Concerns about chronic or routine exposure to radiation are augmented by the
supreme risk of catastrophe in the event of power plant accidents. A major failure
in the nuclear power plant's cooling systems, such as the rupture of the reactor
vessel, can create a nuclear "meltdown." Catastrophic accidents could
easily kill 100,000 people.
I first learned about the electricity industry when I covered the battle to
close the Rancho Seco nuclear plant in Sacramento in the 1980s. A long list
of problems had resulted in local rate increases exceeding 200 percent. There
were rumors of drug use, and even sex orgies, under the immense cooling towers.
The picture painted by some insiders was of an operations crew made up of a
bunch of yahoos who would fit right into an episode of "The Simpsons."
Over the next 15 years, I learned the ins and outs of the electricity business,
the world's largest -- and most polluting -- industrial enterprise. The subject
is boring and complex, which has led to ignorance about its extremely important
activities. Past decisions authorizing a spate of nuclear plants were made with
little scrutiny of their economic or environmental impacts. The consequences
of those decisions, and the government subsidies that helped promote the fiction
that they were cost-effective, helped set the stage for today's crisis in energy
The United States, with its 103 operating nuclear power plants, is already the
world's top consumer of electricity generated from nuclear fission. But we have
yet to build a federal repository for nuclear waste. Given that U.S. reactors
produce about 2,000 tons of high-level waste every year of operation, calling
for greater reliance on nuclear power is not only supremely irresponsible but
also an insult to the "conservative" wing of the Republican Party.
Teddy Roosevelt is also turning over in his grave.
That Republicans call for more nuclear power is truly mind-boggling. There has
never been a more subsidized, socialized power technology than nuclear. Virtually
all of the countries that derive the greatest amount of electricity from nuclear
power -- France, Lithuania, Ukraine, Sweden -- feature central planning and
socialistic energy policies.
Real, free-market energy policies suggest smaller, smarter and cleaner power
sources. The last thing the United States should embark on in these volatile
times tainted by the terrorist threat is the dinosaur technology that is nuclear
The writer is author of "Reaping the
Wind" and "Reinventing Electric Utilities."
2005 The Washington Post Company
industry must be destroyed
News: Original publication: June 3, 2005)
at Entergy Nuclear Northeast are correct, but for the wrong reasons, when
they say that backup power for emergency sirens at Indian Point must not
be a priority. Sen. Hillary Clinton and her supporters are only proving
themselves as unprincipled hypocrites when they claim to be "environmentalists"
and subsequently prioritize efforts to create a backup power supply for
emergency sirens at one of the biggest threats to the environment, Indian
Clinton is doing is not "environmental," but plain and simple,
capitalist. Unlike real environmentalists such as the Shundahai activists
on occupied western Indian land who are currently calling for an end to
all nuclear research, development, testing and production, Hillary Clinton
and her supporters are, in fact, calling for specific safety precautions
to be taken, which only strengthen the nuclear industry, instead of doing
what a true environmentalist should be doing, destroying the nuclear industry.
Our priority must not be providing one of the most dangerous industries
on the planet with backup power supplies but shutting down that industry
by any means necessary.
nuclear plant deal with attack?
By Greg C. Bruno
Aboard the Hudson Riverkeeper – The radio is silent as John Lipscomb steers
his Chesapeake Bay deadrise through the early morning chop, Indian Point in
his sights. Less than 3,000 feet and closing. He checks his
heading, glances through a pair of binoculars at two patrol boats tied to the
nuclear plant's bulkhead, and continues on course. Just more
than 2,500 feet now.
a few more seconds, with the cooling towers growing taller, Lipscomb closes
to within 2,000 feet of the plant, well within missile range. Had
Lipscomb been wielding any one of a number of black market weapons systems,
he could have fired on the two nuclear reactors.
Point's patrol boats haven't budged.
strikes me that it would be incredibly easy to get around the security forces
that are in place," Lipscomb says as he turns his vessel from the facility,
satisfied with his test of riverside security.
three hours Sunday, Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy group, gave the Times
Herald-Record a tour of some of the Hudson River's pollution trouble spots and
nuclear security threats. The 36-foot Hudson Riverkeeper moves at trolling speed
as it approaches the twin nuclear towers. "What they're
doing is like a police helicopter flying around the World Trade Center trying
to protect them, Lipscomb says. "It's not going to work."
Sept. 11, 2001, nuclear facilities, chemical plants and other potential terrorist
targets have drawn the renewed attention of government regulators, politicians
and local security advocates. The federal government has spent millions upgrading
facilities in hopes of dissuading an attack that could claim countless lives. At
Indian Point, more than $50 million has been spent in the past three years on
security, plant officials say. Upgrades include semi-automatic weapons for security
personnel and the installation of a 900-foot seclusion zone in the river. That
perimeter is marked by buoys.
you guys were anywhere near our buoys, we were watching you," spokesman
James Steets says of our trip. He says the plant's 6 feet of
concrete stands between any attack and the plant's nuclear fuel. "We
have cameras and security personnel who are watching what's going on,"
Steets says. "We're very confident of our capabilities."
continue to demand action, warning that a radiation leak could cause tens of
thousands of cancer deaths in the greater-New York City area. Lisa
Rainwater van Suntum, director of Riverkeeper's Indian Point campaign, says
no matter what the plant implements, it won't be sufficient. "We're
calling for the closure of Indian Point, because we don't believe that even
with the most high-tech measures in place it can be protected," she says.
"It's the wrong plant in the wrong place at the wrong time."
an attack may be the only sure-fire way to settle the argument – something neither
Indian Point nor Riverkeeper wants – some independent weapons analysts acknowledge
the plant is vulnerable from the river. Charles D. Ferguson,
an expert in nuclear terrorism at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington,
D.C., says a water-based attack at Indian Point could be coordinated with an
air or land assault to maximize plant damage. Last year, Ferguson
co-authored "The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism", which explored
the possibility. "One of our scenarios is that some
terrorist commando group could fire a (rocket-propelled grenade) or mortar on
a nuclear facility," Ferguson says. "I think they
would have to do more than that if they wanted to cripple the plant or cause
a leak," he adds, but "we can't rule out the possibility" a multi-pronged
approach would be effective.
go one step further, suggesting a shoulder-fired weapon alone could do significant
damage. With a rocket propelled grenade, someone would have
to be "closer than a few hundred yards" to the plant, says Jim O'Halloran,
the London-based editor of Land Based Air Defense. "Let's
hope the security wouldn't allow for that. "But if you're
talking anti-tank weapons, bunker busters, you can use anything up to about
a nautical mile," or about 6,000 feet, he says. "In that case, yes,
there are anti-tank weapons that would do the job with penetrating warheads."
that, for Lipscomb, is a dangerous proposition. "What
we see is any number of ways the plant is vulnerable from the water," the
boat captain says as his Indian Point tour ended, the plant passing out of view. "We
want the plant closed because we don't think it can be protected 100 percent."
The Cost of Nuclear Power
To the Editor:
Re " 'No Nukes,'
No More," by John Tierney (column, May 17):
The only sector that
reaps economic benefits from nuclear power is the
nuclear industry. Entergy, the owner-operator of the Indian Point nuclear
plant, 24 miles north of New York City, hauls in more than $10 billion in
Over the last 50 years,
some $145 billion in federal research and
development subsidies has gone to the nuclear industry; only $5 billion has
gone to renewable energy sources.
Meanwhile, a substantial
portion of the costs of operating a nuclear plant
are imposed on communities. Indian Point kills over a billion Hudson River
fish, eggs and larvae annually; local taxpayers cover most of the emergency
Entergy recently went
on record opposing backup power to emergency sirens, yet it seems to have ample
funds for advertising campaigns designed to lull the public into a false sense
of security. Providing increased safety and
prosperity for American families is patriotic. Providing more welfare checks
to the nuclear industry is not.
Lisa Rainwater van
Indian Point Campaign Director
Garrison, N.Y., May 17, 2005
PROTECTING RESIDENTS DEEMED NOT URGENT BY FEDERAL AGENCY
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Rejects Petition
Calling for Backup Power to Emergency Sirens
Garrison, NY Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rejected
public petition that would require all nuclear utilities to equip emergency
notification systems with backup power sources independent from the
electrical grid, so that in the event of an accident or an act of terrorism
accompanied by a loss of power the public can still be promptly notified of
a radiological emergency. Hiding behind bureaucratic red tape, the NRC
charged with protecting public health and safety - noted that the petition
was filed improperly, since the lack of backup power to emergency sirens
does not meet the criteria for an Emergency Enforcement Petition. Instead,
the NRC argues that the request should go through the NRC's "petition for
rulemaking," a process typically involving two years of deliberations.
Grid failures routinely cause a loss of power to community alerting systems
around nuclear power stations as the result of lightning, hurricanes, ice
storms, earthquakes and mechanical failures in the electricity distribution
system. The 2.206 petition was filed on February 23, 2005 by Riverkeeper,
the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, New York county legislators, and
national nuclear watchdog groups.
The Indian Point nuclear power plant, located 24 miles north of New York
City does not have backup power for its emergency sirens. In the event
radiological emergency at Indian Point, coupled with a loss of electrical
power, over 300,000 residents would have to learn of the emergency via first
responders with bull horns.
"Once again, we see the Nuclear Regulatory Commission put Entergy's profits
over public health and safety," said Alex Matthiessen, executive director
Riverkeeper, the Putnam-based environmental group leading the campaign to
close Indian Point. "In dismissing the urgent nature of our request, and
suggesting we instead petition for a rulemaking, the NRC has effectively put
off taking obvious and inexpensive cautionary measures that would protect
the public for a minimum of two years. That is unacceptable. It's about time
Congress took note of the NRC's wanton disregard for public health and
safety and begin investigating this agency's total abrogation of duty and
abuse of power," Matthiessen concluded.
Indian Point is one of many nuclear power plants across the country that are
not equipped to notify neighboring communities via emergency sirens in the
event of a radiological emergency and simultaneous loss of power. According
to the NRC, only 27% of the nation's 62 nuclear power emergency planning
zones are capable of fully operating their emergency sirens systems
independent of the main power lines. 40% rely solely on electricity from the
grid, while the remaining 33% have an unspecified combination of sirens with
and without backup power.
"The NRC is allowing nuclear plant operators to give the appearance that
they are protecting the public, without any real guarantees," said
Westchester County Legislator Tom Abinanti (D, Greenburgh), chair of the
Legislature's Environment Committee. "What good is an emergency warning
system that isn't guaranteed to work?"
The petitioners requested that the sirens be provided with chargeable
battery backup systems, preferably through photovoltaic solar powered arrays
so as to assure siren operation for the duration of any emergency.
Michigan's Donald C. Cook nuclear power plant, owned by American Electric
Power, has emergency sirens with photovoltaics, and Pacific Gas & Electric
recently began replacing its sirens with battery backup systems at its
Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California. Yet, while other nuclear
plant operators across the country have voluntarily chosen to improve their
ability to protect public health and safety, Entergy spokeswoman Charlene
Faison - representing the owner/operator of Indian Point - stated during a
petition review board hearing with the NRC last month, "We [Entergy] are
in agreement with this petition, for the record."
"Not having a backup system for the sirens simply defies common sense,"
County Legislator Michael B. Kaplowitz (D, Somers), who chairs the
Legislature's Committee on Budget & Appropriations. "The very
time you need
to rely on the sirens is a time when you can't rely on 911 and other
emergency services. Given that fact, along with the fact that the
technology is out there and Entergy certainly has the financial wherewithal
to ascertain such a system, not doing so is potentially imperiling the very
residents they claim are 'secure.'" Kaplowitz, the long-time leader
fight to close Indian Point, also noted that it shouldn't take an NRC
mandate for Entergy to employ this common sense safety measure at the Indian
Rockland County Legislator Ellen Jaffee raised specific concerns about her
county's residents, "Rockland County already suffers from a lack of radio
and television coverage. Compound this with a loss of power to the sirens
and there is no way to notify the public and our volunteer first responders
of an Indian Point emergency."
A copy of the NRC's 05/18/2005 Director's Decision is available upon
To view the February 23, 2005 Emergency Enforcement Petition and a list of
known nuclear power stations with emergency planning zone siren failures go
Point prepares dry-cask storage system
By MICHAEL RISINIT
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: May 16, 2005)
The real estate advertisement might
read something like this: "Rvr. vu,
spacious, newly renov., built to last."
Such is the home planned for the
nuclear waste at Indian Point in Buchanan.
By fall 2006, about a year behind schedule, Entergy Nuclear Northeast
expects to begin transferring used, radioactive fuel from storage pools at
the nuclear power plants to massive, aboveground casks. The structures will
sit on a swath of land near the containment dome sheltering the Indian
Point 2 reactor.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission
last week gave Indian Point its top
safety mark based on an annual review for 2004. But two recent, independent
government reports have faulted the industry's handling of nuclear waste,
and critics of the fuel pools maintain the casks are a safer and more
secure storage system. The transfer, however, according to the company, is
"We're doing this because we're
running out of room in the pools," said
Geoff Schwartz, manager of Indian Point's dry-cask storage system.
The pools for Indian Point's three
reactors - Indian Point 1 no longer is
active - include 2,164 used fuel assemblies, bundles of glass rods
containing uranium pellets that powered the nuclear reaction that generates
electricity. The assemblies contain enough 12-foot-long rods to reach from
Manhattan to Orlando, Fla., if laid end to end.
On a recent afternoon, construction
workers were in the midst of building a
pad to hold up to 75 casks. Maples, oaks and other trees partially shielded
a view of the Hudson River. The site's large amount of bedrock slowed the
effort and has pushed back the transfer date.
Except for the uranium pellets -
each rod contains 240 pellets, each about
the size of the top third of your pinkie finger - nothing is small-scale in
the nuclear power-plant world. The pad itself will consist of 2,000 cubic
yards of concrete on top of 24 million pounds (693 truckloads) of fill.
Twenty-one miles' worth of steel reinforcing rods will support the
"It's a very big robust patio,"
Entergy began searching its property
three years ago for a place to put the
casks. Spent-fuel storage is an increasingly controversial national issue,
in terms of both how the material is stored at individual plants and where
a national fuel depository may be built. Plans to open a national
nuclear-waste dump inside Yucca Mountain in Nevada by 2010 - which is when
Indian Point's pools would be full if the casks aren't used - have stalled.
Communities have balked at having the waste trucked through them. In
addition, recently discovered e-mails by scientists involved in the Yucca
project suggested some data was falsified about whether the mountain's rock
would be an impermeable barrier to radiation.
Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the
federal NRC, said the Department of
Energy is expected to apply for a nuclear waste storage license for Yucca
Mountain by December. Opening by 2010 no longer is realistic, he said, but
2013 is thought to be feasible.
"Those dates keep slipping
because of the various issues involved," Sheehan
said. "In the meantime, the plants and these pools are running into storage
About half of the assemblies in
each operating reactor - Indian Point 2 and
3 - are removed every two years and transferred to the pools. It's a
process that takes place under water to prevent nuclear fires. Fresh rods
then are inserted into each reactor to keep the nuclear process going.
Because of rod turnover, more radioactive
material is housed in the pools
than the reactors. The spent-fuel pool at Indian Point 3 is at the end of a
winding journey through hallways and stairwells filled with gauges and
valves. Close to 40 feet deep and glasslike in its stillness, the pool
reflects the yellow safety railings, catwalks and pipes inside the
warehouselike space. The tranquility belies what's below the surface.
"To a large degree, spent fuel
is self-protecting," Schwartz said,
referring to the heat and radiation emitting from the used fuel. "You can't
pick it up and carry it away. (A diver) would perish very quickly."
Loss of water in the pools, whether
through an accident or an act of
terrorism, would expose the fuel to air and allow it to heat up and catch
fire. That could lead to a greater, more dangerous meltdown - a scenario
Entergy said can't happen at Indian Point because of safety features. The
National Academy of Sciences released a report last month highlighting that
potential vulnerability at plants nationwide. Another report last month
from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of
Congress, suggested the NRC institute new control and accounting procedures
for handling spent-fuel pieces. That report was in response to episodes of
missing nuclear waste at facilities in Connecticut, Vermont and California.
Entergy and the NRC maintain that
both storage methods - the pools and the
casks - are equally safe. Indian Point opponents contend the casks are
safer because they are more rugged than the cinder block and steel building
housing the pools.
"Many of us have been calling
for years for dry casks until Yucca Mountain
or another depository opens up," said Lisa Rainwater of the environmental
group Riverkeeper, which has been fighting for years to close Indian Point.
"If done correctly, it can be a much better protective measure than
Each cask will take about three
days to fill and move from pool to pad. A
cask can be thought of as a 20-foot-tall thermos. Thirty-two fuel
assemblies - only those that have been in the pools at least five years are
cool enough to transfer - will be placed inside an inner, inch-thick steel
shell. The space between the inner and outer shell is filled with 3 feet of
concrete; a 9-inch-thick steel lid is welded to the top. Fully loaded, a
cask weighs 180 tons - somewhere in the neighborhood of a blue whale or an
empty Boeing 747.
Entergy won't say what the project
costs, but Riverkeeper estimates the
undertaking carries a price tag of about $90 million. The environmental
group would like to see the pad protected by earthen berms and a web of
steel beams and cables, which would fragment an attacking jet or rocket.
Schwartz, though, maintains the casks are impregnable and will remain
intact even if they tip over. The casks are designed to last 100 years. By
then, he and the rest of the industry expect to find accommodations in
"It's a temporary home while
we wait for Yucca Mountain to open up,"
license renewal for Indian Point
The Journal News
Original Publication: May 8, 2005
As a recent editorial in The Journal News stated, a report from the National
Academy of Science gives Rockland residents good reason to worry about Indian
Point. With the plant's license coming up for renewal, citizens have an ideal
opportunity to let the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission know that we do
not want Indian Point to operate for 20 more years.
Polls show that most area residents want to see this nuclear plant
decommissioned. Both the Rockland Legislature and county executive have already
opposed license renewal, as has the Town of Ramapo. It's time for the NRC to
respect the decisions made by an overwhelming majority of our elected local
Indian Point has been forced upon the people who live and work
in the Hudson Valley. It's easy to blame Entergy, a corporation with a hefty
advertising budget and a propensity to distort facts. But it's the regulatory
agencies, the NRC in particular, that have failed the public. In fact, Indian
Point would have been shut years ago if the NRC were fulfilling its mission
"to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety, to promote
the common defense and security and to protect the environment." Instead,
the NRC has become a dogged promoter of the nuclear power industry, bending
its own safety rules in order to accommodate nuclear power companies, at our
expense. These are some examples:
• License renewal protocol allows the NRC to exempt older plants
from newer, safer standards. Indian Point could not win approval today because
updated rules prohibit nuclear plants from being built in highly populated areas,
or on earthquake fault lines, like the one which runs under Indian Point.
• Nuclear plants aren't built to last for more than 30 years.
Now 40 years old, Indian Point needs crucial repairs; many of its problems can't
• After Sept. 11, the NRC refused to add terrorist threats to
its licensing guidelines; security at Indian Point remains minimal. There isn't
even a no-fly zone over the plant. No one, not Entergy, the NRC, Homeland Security
or the Pentagon, claims responsibility for defending the plant from a terrorist
• County legislatures surrounding the plant refuse to approve
the existing emergency evacuation plan because it can't protect us from "unacceptable
doses of radiation." (Source: the Witt Report, an independent study prepared
by a former FEMA director at the request of Gov. Pataki.) The NRC has dismissed
the Witt Report's findings and ignored our legislators' decisions.
• Indian Point is a nuclear waste dump, a virtual Yucca Mountain
on the Hudson. Used radioactive fuel rods are stored on site in an unprotected
area. The National Academy of Science finds this arrangement to be extremely
vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The NRC insists that the plant is secure even
though the radiation from one fuel rod fire could make Rockland uninhabitable.
Terror threats aside, why accumulate 20 more years' worth of radioactive
waste with at least a 30,000-year shelf life? Nuclear power might not create
greenhouse gas, but nuclear waste poses an uncertain and prodigious risk.
• The plant's boiling waste water has killed billions of fish
in the Hudson, putting Entergy in violation of the Clean Water Act.
Almost as troubling as the NRC's neglect is the insurance industry's
stance on nuclear accidents. If nuclear energy is so safe, why won't insurance
companies, experts at estimating odds, cover damages from nuclear accidents?
The U.S. Senate even had to pass a law capping liability for nuclear power companies
at $93 billion, less than it cost to clean up, but not rebuild, the World Trade
Center after 9/11.
Finally, while we tend to dwell on disaster scenarios, significant
threats to our lives from Indian Point arise from small-scale, daily incidents
that often go unnoticed. Tests on baby teeth show that radioactive emissions
are higher than once believed. And just this winter, a truck traveling from
Indian Point to a storage facility in the South leaked enough radioactive material
to warrant an NRC report. How many unsuspecting motorists were exposed to that
And, as a result, how many of those people might be diagnosed
in years to come with a cancer of mysterious origin?
It's time to hold the NRC accountable and remove this threat from
the Hudson Valley. Rockland Friends United for Safe Energy (Rockland FUSE) is
an independent, nonpartisan group the mission of which is to replace Indian
Point with safe and affordable energy. In the coming months, Rockland FUSE will
be circulating petitions opposing license renewal. We will also be bringing
resolutions to every town, village, and school board in the county that ask
the NRC not to renew Entergy's license.
Rockland FUSE invites readers to join the discussion about sensible
energy for Rockland's future. We can schedule meetings with groups to answer
questions about Indian Point and replacing it with safe, sustainable, affordable
energy. With everyone's help we can shut Indian Point. Learn how to get involved.
Leave contact information at RocklandCloseIP@yahoo.com,
or call 1 888-I SHUT IT. We note that the NRC's annual public meeting will be
in Peekskill this Tuesday, May 10.
EFFECTS OF FEBRUARY 16, 2000 ACCIDENT AT INDIAN POINT ON HEALTH OF LOCAL INFANTS
J. Mangano, MPH MBA
and Public Health Project
May 5, 2005
February 16, 2000 , the Indian Point Unit 2
reactor experienced a Level 2 (4 being the most severe) accident, necessitating
the shutdown of the unit for the next year.
Consolidated Edison and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission stated
that the accident caused minimal levels of radiation to escape into the environment;
that the exact level of emissions was unknown; and that these emissions did
not threaten local public health.
these three statements seem presumptive and contradictory, a review of the vital
statistics collected by public health departments may add information on whether
or not local health was harmed. Because
the human body is most vulnerable to hazardous effects of radiation exposure
during pregnancy, an examination of two fetal health indicators is appropriate.
These indicators are
mortality (rate of live births dying before age 28 days)
births (rate of live births with a gestation period under 36 weeks)
both of these measures, the 2000 rate jumped in Westchester and the
Bronx – and not for any other nearby county.
Rates declined in the rest of New York
State and the U.S.
Increases for Westchester were higher than those for the
Bronx . The increase
for neonatal mortality was of borderline statistical significance, and was significant
for premature births. Local rates
for both fell in 2001.
these two counties are closest to Indian Point; and because they lie to the
southeast (prevailing local winds in February are from the northwest), consideration
should be given to the role of Indian Point harming public health, during the
2000 accident and in general.
in Neonatal Mortality Rate
and Westchester Counties
, 1999 vs. 2000
Deaths < 28 Days
Center for Health Statistics , U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov,
underlying cause of death.
in Prematurity Rate
and Westchester Counties
, 1999 vs. 2000
<36 weeks gest.
11949 12426 5.30
+ 5.0 (p<.04)
only births with known gestation
Center for Health Statistics , U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov,
Point foe dismisses Bush bid
By MICHAEL RISINIT
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: April 28,
A major critic of the Indian Point
nuclear power plants in Buchanan
yesterday shrugged off President Bush's proposal encouraging the
construction of new nuclear plants.
"I don't see how one is related
to the other," said Alex Matthiessen,
executive director of the environmental group Riverkeeper. "Our goal is
to stop nuclear power plants. Our goal is to shut down Indian Point."
Since Sept. 11, Riverkeeper has
campaigned to close Indian Point, arguing
that its electricity isn't needed, and the plants' presence threatens public
safety. Last month, the group kicked off a campaign aimed at preventing the
plants from being relicensed.
In an afternoon speech to a Small
Business Administration conference in
Washington, Bush suggested that the government financially compensate the
nuclear industry for any regulatory delays incurred while building a new
power plant. It was his second speech on energy within a week - an
indication of the White House's increasing concern that both the U.S.
economy and the president's approval rating could suffer from high energy
Bush's call to reduce "regulatory
uncertainty" and spur the building new
nuclear power plants, Matthiessen said, is code for relaxing already too-lax
Along with proposing the construction
of new oil refineries on shuttered
military bases, Bush said he will ask Congress to provide federal "risk
insurance" that would kick in if there were lengthy delays in licensing
new reactor. About 20 percent of the country's electricity, comes from
nuclear power and a new plant has not been ordered since 1973.
"That (the percentage) should
be increased. The fact is nuclear power,
Indian Point among them, provides the best hope for clean air and less
reliance on foreign energy sources," said Jim Steets, a spokesman for Indian
Point's owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast.
Those factors, Steets said, will
most likely compel the federal government
to renew the licenses for the two reactors at Indian Point.
Entergy has not applied yet for
relicensing of its two reactors in Buchanan,
which could add 20 years to each plant's operating life. Indian Point 2's
license expires in 2013 and Indian Point 3's expires in 2015. Relicensing
applications are several years away, Steets said.
Presentations to the 2005 NPT Review Conference
Medical and Ecological Consequences of Nuclear Power
and Ecological Consequences of Nuclear Power
Helen Caldicott, Nuclear Policy Research Institute
The official task of the IAEA since 1957, enshrined in article IV of the NPT
promotes the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the "transfer" of
nuclear technology. Superimposed upon this official policy is a huge propaganda
push by the nuclear industry promoting nuclear power as a panacea for the reduction
of global-warming gases.
There are presently 442 nuclear reactors in operation globally. If, as the nuclear
industry suggests, nuclear power were to replace fossil fuels on a large scale,
it would be necessary to build 2000 large 1000-megawatt reactors. Furthermore,
to replace all fossil fuel-generated electricity today with nuclear power, there
is only enough economically viable uranium to fuel the reactors for three to
four years. Belgium, Germany, Spain and Sweden have decided to phase out their
operating nuclear reactors, while Britain plans 10 new reactors and China plans
27 by 2020. The US administration has called for construction of more than 50
The true economies of the nuclear industry are never fully analysed - including
costs of uranium enrichment, the massive liability involved in a nuclear accident,
decommissioning all existing and new nuclear reactors and the enormous expense
in the transportation and storage of radioactive waste for a quarter of a million
years. The prevailing ethic says that nuclear power is emission-free.
The truth is very different. In the US for instance, where much of the world's
uranium is enriched, the enrichment facility at Paducah, Kentucky, requires
the electrical output of two
1000-megawatt coal-fired plants, which release large quantities of carbon dioxide,
the gas responsible for 50% of global warming. Also, this enrichment facility
and another at Portsmouth, Ohio, leak from rusty pipes 93% of the chlorofluorocarbon
gas emitted yearly in the US. The production and release of CFC gas is now banned
internationally by the Montreal Protocol because it is mainly responsible for
stratospheric ozone depletion. But CFC is also a global warmer, 10,000 to 20,000
times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The nuclear fuel cycle in all countries uses large quantities of fossil fuel
at all stages - the mining and milling of uranium, the construction of the nuclear
reactor and cooling towers, robotic decommissioning of the intensely radioactive
reactor at the end of its 20 to 40-year operating lifetime, and transportation
and long-term storage of massive
quantities of radioactive waste. Contrary to the current propaganda line, nuclear
power is not green and it is certainly not clean. Nuclear reactors consistently
release millions of curies of radioactive isotopes into the air and water each
year. These unregulated sanctioned releases occur because the industry considers
certain radioactive elements to be biologically inconsequential. This is not
so. These unregulated releases include the noble gases krypton, xenon and argon,
fat-soluble and if inhaled by persons living near a nuclear reactor, are absorbed
through the lungs, migrating to the fatty tissues of the body, including the
abdominal fat pad and upper thighs, near the reproductive organs. These radioactive
elements, which emit high-energy gamma radiation, can mutate the genes in the
eggs and sperm inducing genetic disease. Tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen,
biologically significant gas, routinely emitted from nuclear reactors. Tritium
combines with oxygen creating "tritiated" water. Tritium which is
a soft energy beta emitter, more mutagenic than gamma radiation incorporates
directly into the DNA molecule of the gene and it passes readily through the
skin, lungs and digestive system where it is
distributed throughout the body. The half life of tritium is 12.3 years, giving
it a biologically active life of 246 years.
The dire subject of massive quantities of radioactive waste accruing at the
442 nuclear reactors across the world is also rarely, if ever, addressed by
the nuclear industry. Each typical 1000-megawatt nuclear reactor manufactures
33 tonnes of thermally hot, intensely radioactive waste per year. More than
80,000 tonnes of highly radioactive waste sits in cooling pools next to the
103 US nuclear power plants, awaiting
transportation to a storage facility yet to be found. Much more accrues at reactor
sites in France, Japan Russia and elsewhere. This dangerous material is an attractive
target for terrorist sabotage as it traverses roads, railway and shipping lines
of many nations.
The long-term storage of radioactive waste is an immense insoluble problem.
No country, including the US has a plan for preventing this toxic carcinogenic
material escaping into the biosphere and contaminating the food chain for the
rest of time. Furthermore, a study released recently by the US National Academy
of Sciences shows that the cooling pools at nuclear reactors, which store 10
to 30 times more radioactive material than that contained in the reactor core,
are subject to
catastrophic attacks by international terrorists, which could unleash an inferno
and release massive quantities of deadly radiation -- significantly worse than
the radiation released by Chernobyl. This vulnerable high-level nuclear waste
stored in the cooling pools at the 442 global nuclear power plants includes
hundreds of radioactive
elements that have different biological impacts in the human body, the most
important being cancer and genetic diseases.
The incubation time for cancer is five to 50 years following exposure to radiation.
Children, old people and immuno-compromised individuals are many times more
sensitive to the malignant effects of radiation than other people. Following
are four of the most dangerous elements made in nuclear power plants. Iodine
131, which was released at nuclear accidents at Sellafield in Britain, Chernobyl
in Ukraine and Three Mile Island in the US, is radioactive for twenty three
weeks and it bio-concentrates in leafy vegetables and milk. When it enters the
human body via the gut and the lung, it migrates to the thyroid gland in the
neck, where it can later induce thyroid cancer. In Belarus more than 2000 children
have had their thyroids removed for thyroid cancer, a situation never before
recorded in pediatric literature. Strontium 90 lasts for 600 years. As a calcium
analogue, it concentrates in cow and goat milk. It accumulates in the
human breast during lactation, and in bone, where it can later induce breast
cancer, bone cancer and leukemia. Cesium 137, which also lasts for 600 years,
concentrates in the food chain, particularly meat. On entering the human body,
it locates in muscle, where it can induce a malignant muscle cancer called a
sarcoma. Plutonium 239, one of the most dangerous elements known to humans,
is so toxic that one-millionth of a gram is carcinogenic. More than 200kg is
made annually in each 1000- megawatt nuclear power plant. Plutonium is handled
like iron in the body, and is therefore stored in the liver, where it causes
liver cancer, and in the bone, where it can induce bone cancer and blood malignancies.
On inhalation it causes lung cancer. It also crosses the placenta, where, like
the drug thalidomide, it can cause severe congenital deformities. Plutonium
has a predisposition for the testicle, where it can cause testicular cancer
and induce genetic diseases in future generations. Plutonium lasts for 500,000
years, living on to induce cancer and genetic diseases in future generations
of plants, animals and humans.
Plutonium is also the fuel for nuclear weapons -- only 5kg is necessary to make
a bomb and each reactor makes more than 200kg per year. Therefore any country
with a nuclear power plant can theoretically manufacture 40 bombs a year.Nuclear
power produces a carcinogenic legacy for all future generations, it produces
global warming gases, and it is far more expensive than any other form of electricity
generation, while it triggers the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
A supplementary protocol to the NPT is needed, which would permit the signatory
States to fulfil their obligations stated in Article IV of the NPT by supplying
technical aid in form of Renewable Energy Technologies. The supplementary protocol
should be the basis for an International Renewable Energy Agency that can act
as a counterbalance to the institutionalized advocates for nuclear energy. The
main provision of the supplementary protocol to Art IV should be: "The
present Treaty permits the parties to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty to
assistance in the peaceful use of nuclear energy provided for in article IV
with assistance in promoting the use of clean, sustainable, renewable energy."
Convenors: Helen Caldicott, Herman Scheer, Xanthe Hall, John Loretz, Alice
Helen Caldicott: Nuclear Power is the Problem,
Not the Solution - April 13 2005
THERE is a huge propaganda push by the nuclear industry to justify Nuclear power
as a panacea for the reduction of global-warming gases. In fact Leslie Kemeny
on these pages two weeks ago (HES, March 30) suggested that courses on nuclear
science and engineering be included in tertiary level institutions in Australia.
I agree. But I would suggest that all the relevant facts be taught to students.
Mandatory courses in
medical schools should embrace the short and long-term biological, genetic and
medical dangers associated with the nuclear fuel cycle. Business students should
examine the true costs associated with the production of nuclear power. Engineering
students should become familiar with the profound problems associated with the
storage of long-lived radioactive waste, the human fallibilities that have created
the most serious nuclear accidents in history and the ongoing history of near-misses
and near-meltdowns in the industry.
At present there are 442 nuclear reactors in operation around the world. If,
as the nuclear industry suggests, nuclear power were to replace fossil fuels
on a large scale, it would be necessary to build 2000 large, 1000-megawattreactors.
Considering that no new nuclear plant has been ordered in the US since 1978,
this proposal is less than practical. Furthermore, even if we decided today
to replace all fossil-fuel-generated electricity with nuclear power, there would
only be enough economically viable uranium to fuel the reactors for three to
The true economies of the nuclear industry are never fully accounted for.
The cost of uranium enrichment is subsidised by the US government. The true
cost of the industry's liability in the case of an accident in the US is estimated
to be $US 560 billion ($726 billion), but the industry pays only $US 9.1 billion
- 98% of the insurance liability is
covered by the US federal government. The cost of decommissioning all the
US nuclear reactors is estimated to be $US33billion. These costs - plus
the enormous expense involved in the storage of radioactive waste for a quarter
of a million years - are not now included in the economic assessments of nuclear
It is said that nuclear power is emission-free. The truth is very different.
In the US, where much of the world's uranium is enriched, including Australia's,
the enrichment facility at Paducah, Kentucky, requires the electrical output
of two 1000-megawatt coal-fired plants, which emit large quantities of carbon
dioxide, the gas responsible for 50% of global warming.
Also, this enrichment facility and another at Portsmouth, Ohio, release from
leaky pipes 93% of the chlorofluorocarbon gas emitted yearly in the US. The
production and release of CFC gas is now banned internationally by the
Montreal Protocol because it is the main culprit responsible for stratospheric
ozone depletion. But CFC is also a global warmer, 10,000 to 20,000 times more
potent than carbon dioxide.
In fact, the nuclear fuel cycle utilises large quantities of fossil fuel at
all of its stages - the mining and milling of uranium, the construction of the
nuclear reactor and cooling towers, robotic decommissioning of the intensely
radioactive reactor at the end of its
20 to 40-year operating lifetime, and transportation and long-term storage of
massive quantities of radioactive waste.
In summary, nuclear power produces, according to a 2004 study by Jan Willem
Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith, only three times fewer greenhouse
gases than modern natural-gas power stations.
Contrary to the nuclear industry's propaganda, nuclear power is therefore not
green and it is certainly not clean. Nuclear reactors consistently release millions
of curies of radioactive isotopes into the air and water each year. These
releases are unregulated because the nuclear industry considers these particular
radioactive elements to be
biologically inconsequential. This is not so.
These unregulated isotopes include the noble gases krypton, xenon and argon,
which are fat-soluble and if inhaled by persons living near a nuclear reactor,
are absorbed through the lungs, migrating to the fatty tissues of the body,
including the abdominal fat pad and upper thighs, near the reproductive organs.
These radioactive elements, which emit high-energy gamma radiation, can mutate
the genes in the eggs and sperm and cause genetic disease.
Tritium, another biologically significant gas, is also routinely emitted from
nuclear reactors. Tritium is composed of three atoms of hydrogen, which combine
with oxygen, forming radioactive water, which is absorbed through the skin,
lungs and digestive system. It is incorporated into the DNA molecule, where
it is mutagenic.
The dire subject of massive quantities of radioactive waste accruing at the
442 nuclear reactors across the world is also rarely, if ever, addressed
by the nuclear industry. Each typical 1000-megawatt nuclear reactor manufactures
33tonnes of thermally hot, intensely radioactive waste per year.
Already more than 80,000 tonnes of highly radioactive waste sits in cooling
pools next to the 103 US nuclear power plants, awaiting transportation to a
storage facility yet to be found. This dangerous material will be an attractive
target for terrorist sabotage as it
travels through 39 states on roads and railway lines for the next 25 years.
But the long-term storage of radioactive waste continues to pose a problem.
The US Congress in 1987 chose Yucca Mountain in Nevada, 150km northwest
of Las Vegas, as a repository for America's high-level waste. But Yucca Mountain
has subsequently been found to be unsuitable for the long-term storage of high-level
waste because it is a volcanic mountain made of permeable pumice stone and it
is transected by 32 earthquake faults. Last week a congressional committee
discovered fabricated data about water infiltration and cask corrosion in Yucca
Mountain that had been
produced by personnel in the US Geological Survey. These startling revelations,
according to most experts, have almost disqualified Yucca Mountain as a waste
repository, meaning that the US now has nowhere to deposit its expanding nuclear
To make matters worse, a study released last week by the National Academy of
Sciences shows that the cooling pools at nuclear reactors, which store 10 to
30 times more radioactive material than that contained in the reactor core,
are subject to catastrophic attacks by terrorists, which could unleash an inferno
and release massive quantities of deadly radiation significantly worse than
the radiation released by Chernobyl, according to some scientists.
This vulnerable high-level nuclear waste contained in the cooling pools at 103
nuclear power plants in the US includes hundreds of radioactive elements that
have different biological impacts in the human body, the most important being
cancer and genetic diseases.
The incubation time for cancer is five to 50 years following exposure to radiation.
It is important to note that children, old people and immuno-compromised individuals
are many times more sensitive to the malignant effects of radiation than other
I will describe four of the most dangerous elements made in nuclear power plants.
Iodine 131, which was released at the nuclear accidents at Sellafield in Britain,
Chernobyl in Ukraine and Three Mile Island in the US, is radioactive for only
six weeks and it bio-concentrates in leafy Vegetables and milk. When it
enters the human body via the gut and the lung, it migrates to the thyroid gland
in the neck, where it can later induce thyroid cancer. In Belarus more than
2000 children have had their
thyroids removed for thyroid cancer, a situation never before recorded in pediatric
Strontium 90 lasts for 600 years. As a calcium analogue, it concentrates in
cow and goat milk. It accumulates in the human breast during lactation, and
in bone, where it can later induce breast cancer, bone cancer and leukemia.
Cesium 137, which also lasts for 600 years, concentrates in the food chain,
particularly meat. On entering the human body, it locates in muscle, where
it can induce a malignant muscle cancer called a sarcoma.
Plutonium 239, one of the most dangerous elements known to humans, is so toxic
that one-millionth of a gram is carcinogenic. More than 200kg is made annually
in each 1000-megawatt nuclear power plant. Plutonium is handled like iron
in the body, and is therefore stored in the liver, where it causes liver cancer,
and in the bone, where it can induce bone cancer and blood malignancies. On
inhalation it causes lung cancer. It
also crosses the placenta, where, like the drug thalidomide, it can cause severe
congenital deformities. Plutonium has a predisposition for the testicle, where
it can cause testicular cancer and induce genetic diseases in future generations.
Plutonium lasts for 500,000 years, living on to induce cancer and genetic diseases
in future generations of plants, animals and humans.
Plutonium is also the fuel for nuclear weapons -- only 5kg is necessary to make
a bomb and each reactor makes more than 200kg per year. Therefore any country
with a nuclear power plant can theoretically manufacture 40 bombs a year.
Because nuclear power leaves a toxic legacy to all future generations, because
it produces global warming gases, because it is far more expensive than any
other form of electricity generation, and because it can trigger proliferation
of nuclear weapons, these topics need urgently to be introduced into the tertiary
educational system of Australia, which is host to 30 per cent to 40 per
cent of the world's richest uranium.
Helen Caldicott is an anti-nuclear campaigner and founder and president of the
Nuclear Policy Research Institute, which warns of the danger of nuclear energy.
privacy terms © The Australian
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: April 9, 2005)
The National Academy of Sciences' new report on nuclear power plant safety
is further proof that nothing can go wrong, can go wrong, can go wrong. Since
9/11, outside experts and critics of Indian Point have frequently observed
that the plants in Buchanan are vulnerable to airplane attacks, only to be
told, in as many words, to quit hallucinating. Findings by the independent
academy support the critics' fears of possible catastrophic harm and provide
fresh fodder for wholly independent evaluations of nuclear plant safety. More
than three years after the deadliest terrorist attack on the United States,
it is past time for Congress to order such reviews.
their report to federal lawmakers, scientists with the influential academy
concluded that an airplane attack on nuclear facilities like Indian Point
"remain a credible threat." Such attacks would be difficult undertakings,
but "certainly no more difficult than the Sept. 11 attacks," study
director Kevin Crowley told reporters earlier this week, after the release
of an abbreviated version of the classified report, which was sent to lawmakers
in July. The panel said that under certain conditions an airplane attack could
lead to a "fire and release of large quantities of radioactive materials
to the environment." The study did not discuss specific scenarios at
the nation's 65 operating and eight shut-down sites, but many fear an attack
on Indian Point, which has 20 million neighbors within a 50-mile radius, could
be catastrophic because the region's typically clogged roads and bridges would
render any emergency evacuation a deadly exercise in futility. The academy
study won't assuage any of those concerns.
"Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage: Public
Report" calls for plant-by-plant security assessments of spent nuclear-fuel
storage facilities. It also recommends that the reviews consider the "maximum-credible"
or worst-case scenario at the facilities, which are given to different designs,
implicating different threats. The call for an independent inquiry is a nod
to public skepticism of the oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
which very often is more industry's advocate than the public's. The agency
has previously downplayed the likelihood of air attacks and dismissed the
need for full-bore analyses of the consequences of such attacks. The scientists'
conclude that the government doesn't know what it doesn't know.
academy noted that, more than three years after 9/11, there "are currently
no requirements in place to defend against the kinds of larger-scale, pre-meditated,
skillful attacks that were carried out on September 11, 2001."
It said that the more limited threat assessments conducted by the NRC don't
go far enough in examining or quantifying the prevailing risks. "The
(academy) prefers a maximum-credible scenario approach for one important reason:
It believes that terrorists who choose to attack hardened facilities like
spent fuel storage facilities would choose weapons capable of producing maximum
destruction," the report said. That means the terrorists are likely to
do their homework. The study added: "The work to date . . . has not been
sufficient to adequately understand the vulnerabilities and consequences .
. . (of an attack) . . . so that well-informed policy decisions can be made."
NRC, while agreeing with many report findings, "respectfully" disagreed
that it was unaware of the possible threat. An NRC spokesman repeated the
agency's assertions that stored nuclear material was safe. The same agency,
of course, has held that the plants were in compliance with licensing requirements,
despite mandated emergency-evacuation plans now routinely disavowed by the
officials charged with implementing them. We take their word with a grain
at Indian Point, officials stand by the safety of their plants and speak glowingly
of their precautions. It bears mention that the academy report defines "independent"
assessment as one "independent of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and
the nuclear power industry." And the scientists properly note that plant
safety and security are government responsibilities. Toward that end, Congress
should waste no more time seeing to it that an independent inquiry is made.
Point disaster is not impossible
The Journal News
Publication: April 8, 2005
kickoff of the efforts to stop the relicensing of the Indian Point nuclear
plants held on March 29, hosted by Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner
at Greenburgh Town
Hall, was a huge success. The room was packed to capacity and Robert Kennedy
Jr. and Alex Mathiesson, Riverkeeper's executive director, provided inspirational
and informational discussion about the absurdity of operating nuclear plants
within 50 miles of 20 million people and amid the world's most important metropolitan
spite of the high level of the speakers in the conference room, the most telling
remark came in the hallway from Jon Mermelstein, the 10-year-old son of Michel
Lee, a life-long Republican and leader from the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition.
Jon was talking
to Jim Steets, Indian Point's public-relations expert about various scenarios
and the likelihood of something bad happening at Indian Point.
said, "No one can really say anything is impossible, so let's just say
it's virtually impossible." To which Jon replied, "You mean like
the Red Sox winning the World Series?"
waste vulnerable to terrorism, scientists find
By MICHAEL RISINIT
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: April 7, 2005)
Several highlights of the National
Academy of Sciences' report on the safety and security of nuclear waste stored
at nuclear-power plants
• Spent-fuel pools are necessary
at all operating nuclear power plants to store recently discharged fuel.
• The committee judges that successful
terrorist attacks on spent-fuel pools, though difficult, are possible.
• If an attack causes the spent
fuel to catch fire, it could result in the release of large amounts of radioactive
• Dry cask storage has inherent
security advantages over spent-fuel pool storage, but it can be used only to
store older spent fuel.
• It would be difficult for terrorists
to steal enough spent fuel from storage facilities for use in significant radiological
dispersal devices (dirty bombs).
Source: The National Academies of
Sciences' "Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage:
Nuclear waste, including material at the Indian Point plants in Buchanan, may
be vulnerable to terrorist attacks and a massive release of radiation, according
to a report released yesterday by an independent group of nuclear experts.
"The committee finds that,
under some conditions, a terrorist attack that partially or completely drained
a spent fuel pool could lead to a ... fire and the release of large quantities
of radioactive materials to the environment," according to the 10-page
congressional summary included in the National Academy of Sciences' report on
the safety of nuclear waste.
The "Safety and Security of
Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage: Public Report" calls for a plant-by-plant
examination of the pools where spent fuel is stored.
The experts said terrorists could
cause an intense, radiation-releasing fire if they managed to drain a pool.
The panel of scientists, engineers and physicists concluded federal regulators
and the industry haven't comprehended the dangers and consequences of such an
attack, which can be understood only by examining the situation at each plant.
A federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission
spokesman said yesterday that the agency generally agreed with the academy's
recommendations and how to address them. But in a statement, the agency said
it considered spent-fuel pools "well protected by physical barriers, armed
guards, intrusion detection systems, area surveillance systems, access controls,
and access authorization requirements for employees working inside the plants."
Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy
Nuclear Northeast, Indian Point's owner, said "nothing is absolutely impossible,"
referring to an attack on the spent-fuel pools. But Entergy, he said, is confident
in, and residents should be comfortable with, Indian Point's many safety features.
"Clearly, if the NRC orders
us to do something, we'll do it," he said.
Critics of the nuclear-power plants
on the Hudson River said the independent report was highly damaging to the industry
and should cause everyone concerned about terrorism — Congress, the NRC, the
Department of Homeland Security — to take notice.
"It basically supports exactly
what we have been saying all along," said Lisa Rainwater of Riverkeeper.
"The spent-fuel pools at Indian Point are a soft target, a vulnerable target."
The findings publicized yesterday
were part of a classified study the academy issued in July. Since then, the
NRC and the academy have been wrangling over what to include in the public version
of the report for fear it could become a terrorism manual. Members of Congress
and advocacy groups in recent weeks had criticized the delay.
"I'm glad that after so many
months, the public finally has the opportunity to review this study," Rep.
Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, said in a statement. Last week, Lowey urged NRC Chairman
Nils Diaz to make the study public.
"Public safety officers need
to know about every risk at our nuclear facilities, and the public deserves
information about the steps being taken to protect our families," she said.
"This report makes clear that more can be done to minimize risks associated
with spent fuel storage, and I'm concerned that the NRC has not done the analysis
needed to ensure that we safeguard all nuclear materials."
The 114-page report presents scientific
and technical advice on the storage of spent fuel at nuclear plants nationwide.
Part of the debate involves whether the NRC should favor depositing used fuel
in steel-and-concrete casks or hardening security measures around spent-fuel
pools. Loss of water in the pools would expose the fuel to air and allow it
to heat up and catch fire. That could lead to a greater, more dangerous meltdown.
Casks are less vulnerable to an
attack but expensive to build, the committee said. NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan
said some of the scenarios presented in the report were unreasonable, but the
agency had no major disagreements with the document.
"They do a good job themselves
of pointing out this comes down to cost assessment," he said. "There
are finite resources in any society."
The spent-fuel pools have been criticized
as potential terrorist targets since Sept. 11, 2001. An NRC study that year
concluded a loss of the water in the pools could result in a fuel fire that
could spread contamination up to 500 miles. The classified version of yesterday's
report includes details on how a terrorist attack, either by crashing an aircraft
or using explosives, could drain a pool, causing a fire and massive release
While the pools are needed to house
newly discharged, hotter fuel, transferring the fuel to casks sooner would divide
the matter among separate containers, the committee said, making attacks more
difficult and lessening their consequences.
Typically, nuclear-plant operators
use casks only when pools run out of space, not just to reduce the amount of
fuel held in the pools. Indian Point now uses spent-fuel pools but is planning
to add dry casks to the property by the end of the year. The spent-fuel pools
hold more radioactive material than the reactors themselves. At Indian Point,
the two active reactors hold about 145 tons of uranium fuel, arranged in 193
bundles called assemblies. The pools hold about 2,000 fuel assemblies.
The report urged the NRC to require
nuclear companies to redistribute the fuel in their pools so hotter fuel would
be interspersed among cooler, older fuel. That would limit the intensity of
any fire. It also suggested installing water spray systems to cool fuel, should
a pool lose water.
may demand backup power for Indian Point sirens
By MICHAEL RISINIT
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: April 6, 2005)
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission
will decide in about a month whether to consider requiring nuclear power companies,
including Indian Point's owner, Entergy, to install backup power systems for
their emergency notification systems.
The federal agency held a nationwide
conference call yesterday with environmental activists and others who worried
that a power outage could hamper nuclear facilities' emergency alert systems.
Several representatives from Riverkeeper, the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition
and Westchester and Rockland county legislators said it was absurd not to have
a backup system, such as batteries, to help warn residents about a radioactive
leak. An Entergy representative participating in the call said the company was
opposed to the idea.
Terrorists attacking the plant could
take down the electrical power system first, rendering emergency sirens useless,
or a regionwide power failure could cause an accident at the plant — again leaving
silent sirens and an unwarned population, Westchester County Legislator Michael
Kaplowitz, D-Somers, told the regulators. Entergy has 156 sirens in the four
counties — Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange — surrounding the plant.
"This really is almost as much
a matter of common sense than anything else," Kaplowitz said on the call.
"Let's get it done. Let's move on to other problems."
Reached after the conference call,
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said batteries would be unreliable and would probably
only provide enough juice to power each emergency siren for one rotation. The
sirens are meant to rotate several times, alerting residents to turn on radios
and TVs for more information.
"We're looking at providing
a reverse-911 system (as an option)," said Steets, referring to a computer
program that would call and alert everyone within the evacuation zone about
The conference call was intended
to allow those petitioning the NRC to address the commission with additional
information, said Jim Lyons, chairman of the NRC's petition review board. Most
of the speakers yesterday focused on the Indian Point nuclear power plants in
Buchanan. Lyons said the review board hoped to move quickly on the matter.
The board can decide to take one
of several actions: to not review the petition, to decide it falls under the
purview of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA handles off-site issues
related to nuclear plants, such as evacuation plans), or to review it and either
implement the action or not. If the board decides to review the petition, it
will be about four months before it reaches a decision.
Michele Lee of the Indian Point
Safe Energy Coalition said a set of standards should be formulated for the backup
systems, including their maintenance and theft protection. After the call, Lisa
Rainwater of Riverkeeper criticized Entergy's opposition.
"If this is a company that
is at the forefront of health and safety, this is a no-brainer," she said.
In February, Entergy performed a
quarterly test of its 156 warning sirens. Only two of the devices, which are
meant to warn residents within the plants' 10-mile evacuation zone of an emergency,
didn't work. Those two were in Westchester.
NEW YORK TIMES WESCHESTER
The Nuclear Option
will tell, to use an old editorial dodge, whether Josh Rattner is a prophet
or just a noodge.
Rattner pulled a driver from a burning gasoline truck last year, risking his
life and earning an invitation to a "Heroes Breakfast" at the Hilton
Rye Town last week. But when it came time to smile and accept his plaque, he
pulled a Marlon Brando and refused it, saying he could not allow himself to
be a public relations tool of one of the day's corporate sponsors, Entergy Nuclear
Northeast, which owns the Indian Point power plant. Mr. Rattner says Indian
Point is a menace that should be shut down.
Rattner, an electrical contractor from Irvington, thus fired an early shot in
what promises to be a long and ferocious struggle over the relicensing of Indian
Point, the Hudson Valley's vital energy resource or nuclear nightmare - take
your pick - in Buchanan, about 35 miles north of Times Square.
the environmentalists are out in force, firing away with news conferences and
op-eds and calling in reinforcements from the hundreds of politicians and dozens
of town and village boards that have called for the plant to be decommissioned.
Besides traditional anxieties about meltdown, radioactive waste and the nuclear
industry's wobbly economics, the enemies of Indian Point have a new trump card
to play - the fear of terrorism - now that 9/11 has jolted people into taking
long-shot possibilities seriously.
of nuclear power have a trump card of their own: global warming, which looms
as the environmental crisis of our age. This has prompted more than a few people
in the green camp to argue that fossil fuel, not radiation, is the clear and
present danger, and to embrace nuclear plants as a proven, readily available
way to reduce carbon emissions and save the planet.
page has been largely agnostic about nuclear power in general and Indian Point
in particular, though it has expressed serious reservations about security at
the plant, which is badly placed in a densely populated region, where a mass
evacuation in an emergency would be extremely difficult. We have called for
greater fortifications and a competent security force at Indian Point, but have
seen no immediate reason to shut it down.
hope the coming clashes will clarify what the region's residents think about
whether to embrace or reject nuclear power along the Hudson. We hope further
that this grappling will lay the groundwork for a much broader debate - the
kind of national discussion the Bush administration should be leading but is
not, given that its energy policies amount to little more than an unwavering
fixation on the maximal extraction and consumption of fossil fuels from anywhere
may seem early in Westchester -Indian Point's reactor licenses are not up for
renewal until 2013. But Indian Point is one of the biggest nuclear controversies
around, aside from the long struggle over burying waste at Yucca Mountain in
Nevada, and thus is a prime opportunity to sort out our energy priorities, reassess
our seemingly boundless appetite for cheap power and weigh our tolerance for
risk - not just in the region, but across the nation.
March 30, 2005
With a Few Words,
a Hero Becomes a Gadfly
The local Red Cross chapter's fourth annual Heroes Breakfast was
going according to script yesterday, recognizing the bravery and good
deeds of police officers, firefighters and good Samaritans from across
Westchester. Then Josh Rattner was called to accept his award.
In November, Mr. Rattner, an electrical contractor from the Village
of Irvington, pulled the driver of a burning gasoline tanker away
from the truck, doused the flames engulfing the man's body and saved
his life. The American Red Cross of Westchester and the Westchester
County government wanted to thank him. But Mr. Rattner had other thoughts.
In front of nearly 300 well-wishers in Rye Brook - the friends, families
and co-workers of the dozen or so honorees - Mr. Rattner, 28, said
he could not in good conscience accept an award that was sponsored,
in part, by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the company that owns the Indian
Point power plants.
"I'm not interested in being a public relations puppet so Entergy
can mask their disregard for public safety," Mr. Rattner said
later, recounting the event. "Heroism today would be permanently
decommissioning Indian Point."
In the silence that followed, the would-have-been hero and his family
got up and left the celebration. Mr. Rattner insists that the doors
were quickly and pointedly shut behind them, though others in the
room disagree with that detail of the account. Laurence Gottlieb,
director of communications for Entergy Northeast and co-chairman of
the breakfast, called the statement a selfish act.
"Obviously, Entergy is not afraid of controversy," Mr.
Gottlieb said. "But I do think there is a time and a place. It
was not right to take a political stance there and embarrass all the
Indeed, Mr. Rattner was not alone on the stage at the Rye Town Hilton
when he spoke. Yanni Papanicolaou, a florist from Pleasantville, who
saved the driver of the burning car that the gasoline tanker had collided
with, was standing right behind him.
"I was waiting to say thank you for the award," Mr. Papanicolaou,
29, recalled in a telephone conversation. "He started out nice,
and suddenly it was just like, 'Whoa, where is he going with this?'
I didn't know what to say. I was just kind of stuck on stupid, and
then I went back to my seat."
It was not just Entergy Mr. Rattner had harsh words for.
"When I got the literature on this event, I was extremely surprised
to see that the county was participating in it, even though Entergy
was sponsoring it," Mr. Rattner said, referring to a letter in
the program in which County Executive Andrew J. Spano thanked Entergy
for sponsoring a community partnership with the Red Cross. Mr. Spano
has repeatedly called for Indian Point to be closed and refused to
endorse an emergency evacuation plan he called unworkable.
"We agree with the statements made by Mr. Rattner," Susan
Tolchin, Mr. Spano's chief adviser, said in a telephone interview.
"We think Indian Point should be closed. We are a supporter of
the American Red Cross, and Entergy is a supporter of the American
Red Cross. We are not a supporter of Entergy."
It was the chaos of the roads after the tanker explosion that started
Mr. Rattner thinking about a nuclear disaster, he said, noting that
he is not a political activist and has never taken part in a demonstration
against Indian Point.
"At the tanker explosion, the roads were clogged and you couldn't
move," Mr. Rattner. "No one could get anywhere. I thought,
'Could you imagine if there was a nuclear accident?' I could have
said thank you today and took the plaque that was partially paid for
by Entergy. But if anything happened at Indian Point, I could never
live with myself."
Entergy supports many Red Cross programs, said Robert Sanders, a
spokesman for the Westchester chapter of the American Red Cross.
"It's not about Indian Point," Mr. Sanders said. "It's
about being a good corporate citizen."
Mr. Sanders said he did not believe that the Red Cross would lose
donations because of Mr. Rattner's actions, but he said he was embarrassed
for the other heroes, particularly Mr. Papanicolaou, whom he invited
to a Red Cross event held to thank volunteers in June. That event
is sponsored by MasterCard.
Putnam County News & Recorder, March 10, 2005
Death Rate Higher in Putnam than State or National Levels
To the editor:
A recent study has
determined that cancer death rates are higher in Putnam County than state and
national levels, but lower for all other causes, suggesting that one or more
factors that raise cancer risk may be affecting county residents.
In the decade from
1992 to 2001, age-adjusted cancer mortality in Putnam County was 10% and 11%
above New York State and U.S. levels, according to a study by the Radiation
and Public Health Project, using statistics from the National Center for Health
Statistics (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/). However, for all other causes combined,
the county death rate was 12% below the state and nation. Out of 1667 cancer
deaths in the white population during this time, 330-360 can be considered "excess"
There are no obvious
demographic or socioeconomic risk factors for cancer in Putnam County. It has
a highly educated population with an above-average income. With low rates of
unemployment and poverty, Putnam County residents are likely to have better
preventive health practices and better access to health services than New York
or U.S. residents.
One potential cause
of the unusually high cancer death rates is radiation produced from the Indian
Point nuclear power plant in nearby Buchanan. Since 1962, three reactors (two
of which are still operating) have continually emitted radioactive chemicals
into local air and water.
A recent study known
as the "Tooth Fairy Project," published in The Science of the Total
Environment, examined radioactive Strontium-90 concentrations in baby teeth
near U.S. nuclear plants. Of the six nuclear plants studied, the tri-county
area near Indian Point (Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester) has the highest average
Sr-90 level, along with the area near Limerick in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Moreover, the 37 teeth contributed to the study from Putnam County have the
second highest Sr-90 average, trailing only Westchester, of all counties in
the New York metropolitan area.
These findings indicate
a need for further study to investigate any cause and effect relationship between
high levels of Sr-90 and high levels of cancer mortality in Putnam County. While
Indian Point’s regular and routine emissions are below regulatory concern, new
research strongly suggests the current standards are out of date and inadequate.
Judy Allen, Project
Indian Point Safe Energy
View. Gary Shaw
Headlines Are Less Frequent but the Questions Remain
recently read quotes from Jim Steets, the glib Indian Point spokesman, in
which he makes light of the risks of Entergy moving tons of highly radioactive
waste from their dangerously overfilled spent fuel pools into dry casks that
will be placed on an open, football field sized concrete slab on their property.
Whenever I hear Mr. Steets’ dismissive tone about a situation with
the potential to contaminate the most densely populated area of the United
States, I am reminded of the 2003 blackout when Governor Pataki stood before
the press saying “the experts told me this couldn’t happen,” as electrical
grids in two countries that spanned from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes
went dark.. Entergy’s failure
to responsibly acknowledge and reveal the risks associated with the operation
of a nuclear power plant places the public at greater risk.
In order to deal with the risks of this plant, we need to know the
facts and the truth.
find the truth and garner some facts let’s ask some critical questions.
Why does the NRC say that the dry casks being used to store the deadly
nuclear waste need only conform to the earthquake standards established forty
years ago when residential and commercial construction standards have been
updated to accommodate greater knowledge about natural disasters?
If Indian Point is so safe, why do their sirens require testing repeatedly
to ensure that citizens can be alerted to radiological emergencies?
If nuclear plants are so safe, why won’t insurance companies insure
your home against a radiation release?
If nuclear generating plants are so safe, why does the NRC require
every plant to have a workable evacuation plan?
If our evacuation plan was workable, why did the only independent,
comprehensive and government sponsored evaluation declare that the plan is
inadequate to protect the public from an unacceptable dose of radiation?
Why did all four counties within the evacuation zone withhold certification
of the plan after the Witt report was issued?
Why did FEMA and the NRC certify the evacuation plan on a day when
a single accident on the George Washington Bridge left every major roadway
in Westchester tied up for the entire day?
What would that traffic jam have been like if Indian Point’s sirens
were wailing at that time? Why
is the evacuation plan only required for residents within 10-miles when the
first public awareness of the Chernobyl radiation release came from Sweden
? Why does Entergy say they will
ask the government to reimburse them for moving the spent fuel into casks
when Indian Point has a revenue stream of roughly $2 million per day? Why
are we continually asked to subsidize this profitable private industry?
Why is the public told that a single repository in
Yucca Mountain will make storage of the deadly
nuclear wastes safer, when additional wastes are produced every day at all
the operating nuclear plants and must be kept on-site for years after removal
from the reactor?
Entergy PR campaign uses the phrase “safe, secure and vital.”
The plant can only be viewed as safe and secure until the unexpected
happens like it did in February 2000 when radiation was released into the
atmosphere, or September 11 when one of the hijacked planes flew right over
Indian Point on its suicide mission to the World Trade Center, or just a few
weeks ago when a control rod that is supposed to help control the chain reaction
malfunctioned several times. Let’s
remember that Indian Point was not vital on those hot August days after the
blackout, when energy was restored to the entire region but Indian Point remained
offline for days while everyone’s air conditioners hummed and subways ran
again. And when Indian Point
2 remained offline for almost a year after the February 2000 radiation release,
at a time when the economy was booming, we were able to clearly see that it
is not vital.
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano has come to understand and say publicly,
there are scenarios that can occur at Indian Point that could create unacceptable
consequences to public safety and the financial health of the region and the
nation. Is this a risk we really
want to tolerate so that a well connected corporation can maximize its profits?
Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) Steering Committee
Croton Close Indian Point (CrotonCIP) Steering Committee
Riverkeeper applauds Ulster Legislature’s stance opposing
Riverkeeper, the organization that is opposed to the continued operation of
the Indian Point nuclear power plants, yesterday praised the Ulster County Legislature’s
vote last week opposing the renewal of the plants’ license.
Riverkeeper Executive Director Alex
Matthiessen told MidHudsonNews.com he expects more communities to sign onto
the opposition. “I predict that when the re-licensing process begins in earnest
in the next year or two, there will be almost unanimous opposition by the public
and the region’s elected officials,” he said. Matthiessen urged other municipalities
to join the 11 counties and towns that have signed onto the opposition movement.
Ulster Legislature Chairman Richard
Gerentine was neither opposed to nor supportive of the move. He wanted to hear
from Indian Point before a decision was made.
He said it was “very unfair” for
those who had the support to vote against Indian Point to do so without hearing
from a company official.
IP’s spokesman, James Steets, had
expressed interest in speaking to Ulster lawmakers and said despite the vote,
he would still like to educate them about the facility.
Copyright © 2004 Mid-Hudson
News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.
The Journal News
power can't be considered 'safe'
(Original publication: February 16, 2005)
response to the Feb. 9 letter by John J. Kelly: As long as the possibility of
a major radiation leak exists at the Indian Point nuclear power plants, or any
nuclear power plant for that matter, nuclear power is not a viable solution.
does not have to be a natural disaster or even a terrorist strike to cause a
major accident. All it could take is a couple of workers who make a couple of
"minor" mistakes or overlook one little item, and this series of events
could "domino" into a Chernobyl or near-Chernobyl-like
accident. It scares me when people say a system is safe from man-made and natural
disasters. No man-made system is "foolproof."
people have been affected by Chernobyl in recent years than when
the accident first happened. The released radiation has affected generations.
And it will continue to affect future generations. Official estimates of how
much total radiation was released from Chernobyl range from one-quarter to 80
percent of the total radiation that the plant contained. Whatever the percentage
actually was, the results are plain to see.
are the dominant species on this planet. We possess an energy source that has
shown its deadly force. What are just as bad, if not worse, are radiation's
long-term negative effects when exposed to the natural environment. We have
shown our inability to totally control nuclear energy.
is our responsibility to eliminate this energy source. Present day "affordable
electricity" from nuclear power is too high a price to pay.
A. Creamer, Hartsdale
County lawmakers vote to oppose Indian Point
An effort to have
the Ulster County Legislature go on record opposed to the Indian Point nuclear
power plants made if through last night, despite the opposition by its chairman.
Democrat Susan Zimet
garnered support from her fellow party members as well as a handful of Republicans
to pass the memorializing resolution. “The Ulster County Legislature took positive
action last night that hopefully will be another nail in the coffin of Indian
Point,” she said.
The resolution calls
for among other things, urging the NRC to reject the relicensing of Indian Point,
developing another form of safe energy to replace the nuclear generated power,
and to secure the spent fuel rods on –site in a safe manner away from potential
Richard Gerentine wanted more time to allow a spokesman from Entergy, owner
of Indian Point, the opportunity to present their side of the picture. “I thought
it was very premature; we didn’t have ample time to do due diligence,” he said.
Others wanted time to speak, he said, “but then again, I’m only one legislator
out of 33.”
A Westchester County
lawmaker who opposes Indian Point addressed a committee of the Ulster County
Legislature last week and Gerentine wanted Entergy to have equal time before
any action was taken locally.
The Poughkeepsie Journal,
Friday, February 11, 2005
Indian Point nuclear plant slows down following incidents
Gannett News Service
BUCHANAN, Westchester County -- The Indian Point 2 nuclear power plant
was operating at 78 percent capacity Thursday because of a faulty electrical
component in the system used to slow or stop the nuclear reaction process.
One of the reactor's control rods malfunctioned twice in less than 24 hours.
The control rods absorb neutrons, preventing them from striking the fuel rods
and starting the fission process that generates heat. The latest incident was
at about 1 a.m. Thursday, Indian Point and federal officials said, and was one
of several events this week at the plant.
Clamps above the reactor hold the rods in place. The clamps are powered by
an electromagnetic current and not enough current was getting to one of the
clamps, said Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast.
''Today we're installing a modified electrical board that will increase the
current to the clamp,'' Steets said Thursday afternoon.
Workers discovered the problem Wednesday when more than the usual amount
of water used to cool the reactor passed through a valve. To make up for the
temperature drop, the reactor produced more power. Workers then began
inserting the rods into the reactor to slow the nuclear reaction process. Steets
said one rod improperly inserted itself completely into the reactor about 2:30
a.m. Wednesday. It did it again Thursday.
Later Wednesday, Entergy performed a test of its 156 warning sirens in four
counties near the plants. Two devices didn't work.
federal check of Indian Point sirens
By DWIGHT R. WORLEY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: February 8, 2005)
Westchester County Executive Andrew
Spano yesterday urged federal regulators to determine whether sirens set up
to signal an emergency at the Indian Point nuclear-power plants are working
In a letter to Samuel Collins, the
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's new regional administrator, Spano said
that during a Dec. 15 test of the siren system — needed to alert 300,000 residents
in four counties of an emergency — sensors indicated that two sirens, in Peekskill
and Yorktown, did not rotate and could not be heard by all residents.
But Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which
operates the plants and maintains the system, said sensors that gauge rotation
malfunctioned during the test, adding that the sirens were fully operational.
"What really needs to be done
is for this 25-year-old, archaic siren system to be scrapped entirely and replaced
with modern technology," Spano said in a separate statement. He asked the
NRC to review the entire system and to require backup generators for the sirens
in case of a power outage.
Jim Steets, an Entergy spokesman,
said sensors in the recently upgraded, $2.6 million system falsely indicated
that sirens weren't rotating. He said the company's on-site inspectors monitored
each of the county's 156 sirens and confirmed rotation, though other problems
caused the volume at the two sites to be too low.
"Mr. Spano knows this system
is better than it ever was. He also knows we don't have a rotation problem,"
Reach Dwight R. Worley at email@example.com
or 914-694-3517.Reach Dwight R. Worley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-694-3517.
Study May Hold Key to Indian PT Fate
County residents await the consultant’s report on whether the Indian Point nuclear
reactors can be closed and replaced with a plant fueled by an alternative energy
source, Entergy has already begun its public relations campaign to discredit
few weeks ago, I participated in a telephone survey during which the pollster
pushed a pro-Entergy agenda in the guise of seeking my opinion.
The pollster stated as fact that Indian Point was safe and secure without
revealing that this position is not only controversial, but for many, utterly
false. More reprehensible, the pollster made unsubstantiated
statements regarding the County’s plan, claiming that it would harm the health
and welfare of Westchester residents. Such
claims being made prior to the completion of the report could only be based
upon conjecture and fantasy. Among the statements presented
as fact, the pollster claimed that the County’s plan would cause asthma in our
At worst, this is
a “push poll” providing participants with misinformation in order to shape their
opinions; at best, it is a fishing expedition to see which media ready sound-bites
would most likely frighten and dupe the public. In either
case, it is a disinformation campaign being waged against the residents of Westchester
for the benefit of Entergy. If you, or anyone you know, has
participated in this unethical poll, please contact the Council of American
Survey Research Organizations (CASRO) and lodge a formal complaint against Charlton,
the company conducting the survey. CASRO can be reached at
www.casro.org or 631-928-6954.
Patrick C. Doherty
February 10, 2005
While politicians are scrambling to address Iraq and Social Security, the nuclear
power industry and the Bush administration are charging ahead with a dangerous
plan. Patrick Doherty looks at the false promises of nuclear energy and the
massive economic opportunity we'll lose if Bush has his way.
Patrick C. Doherty is senior editor at TomPaine.com. Previously, he spent a
decade working on conflict and economic development in the Middle East, Africa,
the Balkans and the Caucasus. His column, Quo Vadis, focuses on America's big
picture: where we are, where we're going, and how to get there.
Bush’s second term will include many historic decisions, but none may be more
detrimental for long-term American prosperity—and go as quietly unnoticed—than
a large-scale federal commitment to nuclear power.
The nuclear industry has launched a concerted campaign that, if successful,
would allow the two halves of the energy industry—oilmen and power companies—to
preserve their market dominance. That’s dangerous. Preserving the energy status
quo will cripple any chance that America will escape from our debt-ridden consumer
economy. For America to both grasp the emerging vision of a more equitable and
prosperous “innovation economy” and achieve true energy independence, this nuclear
assault must be stopped.
The new year saw the launch of a well-orchestrated, multi-pronged campaign calling
for America to end its dependence on oil through massive federal investments
in nuclear energy. On Jan. 1, the American Enterprise Institute published an
article ominously entitled,“The Solution,” by William Tucker. In the February
issue of Wired Magazine , Global Business Network president Peter Schwartz echoed
the same argument, but geared toward that magazine’s more libertarian and tech-savvy
Then, last week, President Bush singled out nuclear energy in his State of the
Union speech. This week, he increased the budget for the controversial Yucca
Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada and requested a 50 percent increase
over last year’s budget for advanced nuclear power research. But most tellingly,
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici is out selling his new book:
A Brighter Tomorrow: Fulfilling The Promise of Nuclear Energy .
The argument Tucker and Schwartz use is radical for conservatives but commonplace
within liberal and centrist circles. They state that America’s dependence on
oil in an increasingly tight market with supplies in unstable regions makes
our nation massively insecure. In addition, they remind us that nuclear power
is climate friendly, as it releases no carbon into the atmosphere. Therefore,
to satisfy the dual imperatives for energy security and climate change mitigation,
we must make America independent of oil for transportation and carbon-laden
coal for electricity.
Incredibly, in the three months since our elections, the mainstream debate in
energy policy has shifted from whether security and climate change were even
worth considering to full acceptance of the dual threat and laying out proposals
to deal with it.
Nuclear Industry’s Power Grab
But in shifting the lines of the nation’s energy debate, the nuclear industry
is also trying to obscure its real objectives. Since the 2004 campaign, energy
security and climate change have produced policy options that talk about how
much oil consumption would be eliminated and by when. In the 2004 campaign,
John Kerry adopted the labor- and environment-led Apollo Alliance’s 17 percent
reduction in oil consumption by 2020—at the time, a more liberal stance. In
December, previously uncommitted centrists (from both parties) have embraced
the bi-partisan, National Commission on Energy Policy agenda calling for 15
percent reductions in oil consumption by 2025. In late 2004, the Rocky Mountain
Institute mapped a path to reduce oil consumption by 76 percent by 2025 and
100 percent shortly thereafter—using proven technology to increase energy efficiency
and shift to renewable energy sources.
Nuclear power advocates are avoiding the transparent and market-friendly “X
percent reductions by Y date” formula to hide the weakened position of their
industry. The reason is simple. They cannot promise any reductions for at least
a decade, perhaps longer. Nuclear power in the United States has been on the
verge of collapse since the accident at Three Mile Island killed new construction.
With aging reactors needing retirement, in the current regulatory environment
the nuclear industry will soon have to shut down its heavily subsidized and
privately lucrative power plants. Any new reactors built in the next 10 years
would merely replace aging reactors, doing nothing to reduce our oil dependence.
In essence, the industry is merely fighting to preserve its 20 percent share
of the domestic electricity market.
To do that, the industry is employing a cynical ‘bait-and-switch’ campaign.
Industry advocates are promising the safety, cost and oil-replacing potential
of generation-after-next “pebble-bed” reactors, but these designs still need
years of research and development. In the meantime, the nuclear industry is
working with its congressional allies, like Sen. Domenici, to lift the restrictions
on and deliver the subsidies for less-competitive, more expensive 1980s-era
nuclear designs to merely replace 30 and 40-year old reactors. These subsidies
will cost the taxpayer $8 billion. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
In reality, we won’t see pebble-bed reactors replacing oil for 20 years—which
may be the Bush administration’s goal. Oil companies are making record profits
from high oil prices right now—profits that are possible only so long as America
sees oil as a commodity worth fighting for. That requires continued dependence.
Yet those companies also recognize that Asian economic growth will, within 20
years, drive oil prices through the roof, making alternatives unavoidable. It
all adds up to a well orchestrated hand off from one powerful industry to another.
Markets be damned.
Denying An Innovation Economy
This preservation of the status quo denies America the opportunity of a century:
A chance to build an “innovation economy” that delivers not only energy independence
but a booming era of growth—growth in large part made possible by transforming
our energy infrastructure.
Economists and business leaders are increasingly talking about the next economic
boom being based on innovation, on the application of knowledge to solve problems
and deliver higher-quality services and products. To the extent that America
can exploit our scientific and technological advantage to produce the energy
and resource efficient products and services the developing world needs, we
will be able to dig our way out of the insecurity, indebtedness and inequity
that defines today’s consumer economy.
The outlines of that “innovation economy” are emerging slowly, but distinctly.
Information technology is driving revolutions in biotech, nanotech and materials
science. Combining those technological innovations with innovations in the housing
market known as ‘smart growth’ —ending sprawl by integrating efficient transportation
and healthier communities—America is poised to enter a new economic boom period.
That innovation economy requires clean, reliable, flexible and efficient energy.
Clean, to mitigate climate change and improve public health. Reliable, to power
the high-technology industries and services that require high-quality, uninterrupted
power. Flexible, to accommodate the innovations in land use and transportation
and the advances in efficiency that make turbines smaller and smaller. And efficient,
to reduce overall cost and environmental impact.
Nuclear Can’t Deliver
Nuclear power can’t deliver on these requirements. When the current system was
designed, clean, reliable, flexible and efficient were not priorities. Oil was
plentiful, carbon emissions were a non-issue, and our technology was rudimentary
and dirty. As our economy grew, we increased scale, not efficiency. The simple
truth is the system we’ve got is getting older and more fragile. Crises like
California’s rolling brownouts and the big northeastern blackout are only going
to become more commonplace.
Nuclear power does nothing to fix this fractured system. In fact, it would only
reinforce this inefficient system by creating a new generation of massive plants
located far from the customers they serve. Consumers would have little choice
and the industry would have government over a barrel.
There are better answers. Technology and design advances have opened up a new
way to organize our energy grid that encourages high-quality energy and healthy
markets. Right now, small natural gas turbines combined with better grid design
can capture much of the wasted energy by distributing clean generating capacity
closer to consumers. Instead of putting one massive power plant tens of miles
from the customers and taking five years to build, ‘distributed’ micro-turbine
power plants of any size can drop in incremental capacity onto the grid where
it’s needed when it’s needed. Since they’re affordable, they eliminate the need
for market-corrupting and deficit-worsening subsidies.
The resulting vision is quite elegant. Build a new building or housing development,
and you can put a clean new power source with it. And it’s not only dependent
on natural gas. Wind turbines already allow rural communities to buy a town-sized
wind farm and make money when they sell excess power back to the grid. As solar
cells become more efficient, middle-class homes and urban rooftops could be
generating—and selling—their own electricity. If that were to happen, big centralized
plants couldn’t compete with a network of distributed power generators. David
will have killed Goliath.
The nuclear industry wants to abort that vision of a clean, efficient and distributed
energy future before it is born. With the help of George Bush and Pete Domenici,
they might just succeed.
may hold key to Indian Point fate
By MICHAEL RISINIT
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: February 7, 2005)
Westchester is still waiting for a consultant's report on whether the Indian
Point nuclear reactors can be closed and replaced with a plant fueled by an
alternative energy source.
Concerned about the safety of having a nuclear facility in a densely populated
area, County Executive Andrew Spano first advocated taking over Indian Point
in 2002. The overdue report, expected on his desk next month, will discuss the
feasibility of that idea, including the cost to taxpayers, who would be responsible
for the nuclear materials and what would happen to the approximately 1,300 jobs
at the plants. The price tag for the county's takeover has been estimated at
several billion dollars.
"To us, this is not a big deal," Susan Tolchin, Spano's chief advisor,
of the delayed report. "We should be getting a report within a month that's
all-inclusive, and that takes time."
In May, Spano announced that the county had hired Boston-based Levitan &
Associates to study the acquisition, a proposal he made about 14 months
after the terrorist strikes on the World Trade Center. The study, he said
when hiring the consultants, was a "matter of safety." Levitan was
$385,000 to conduct the feasibility study in five months.
The county executive isn't alone in his idea to replace the two reactors in
Buchanan with an alternative energy source. In 2003, Rep. Nita Lowey,
D-Harrison, helped secure $1 million to study how to meet the area's energy
needs if the plants were shut down. Last week, state Attorney General
Eliot Spitzer, who is running for governor in 2006, said Indian Point was
"something we can do without." If elected governor, Spitzer said,
would close Indian Point if other sources of energy were found to replace the
power being generated. The two reactors each produce about 1,000
megawatts of electricity.
Jennifer Meicht, a spokeswoman for Gov. George Pataki, declined to comment
on Spitzer's remarks last week.
Meeting the area's energy demands has been one of the core arguments in the
debate about Indian Point. Critics of the plants contend they are unnecessary.
A surplus of electric power in nearby states, along with greater local conservation
measures, would adequately replace the electric power lost if the nuclear reactors
were closed, they say.
Closing the facility, the plants' proponents say, would leave the region with
a shortage of electricity. Entergy Nuclear Northeast, Indian Point's owner,
said the plants are safe and provide needed electricity. If the studies are
done correctly, said Jim Steets, an Entergy spokesman, they will show how valuable
the plants are.
"There's a limit to the value of studies. Studies don't produce electricity,"
Steets said. "I think if Mr. Spitzer understood how well protected the
plants are and how safe the technology is, he would be less inclined to want
to close Indian Point."
Lowey's study, which is being conducted by the National Academy of Sciences,
started at the beginning of the year, said her spokeswoman, Julie Edwards. The
panel met in January and will meet again next month, she said.
"There will be three meetings after that as they work toward finding alternative
energy sources," said Edwards, who declined to speculate on when a report
would be available.
Levitan's report would cover an extensive list of questions about Spano's
proposal, including whether Entergy can be persuaded to convert the nuclear
facility itself or would willingly sell it to the county. The study also will
examine how to replace the lost energy, how the region's energy bills would
be affected, and how local municipalities and school districts would be affected
by the loss of tax revenue.
Spano's plan echoes a resolution approved by the Westchester legislature in
2002 that called for the plants' decommissioning and a study of alternative
energy sources. Legislator Mike Kaplowitz, D-Cortlandt, who sponsored the resolution,
said the debate should be an intellectual one, not an emotional one.
"This is just a cold calculation," Kaplowitz said. "I believe
that an objective study will show Indian Point could be closed and sufficient
energy replacement can be realized that is non-nuclear based, that is safer
in an age of terrorism, and that would not disrupt the power supply or the economics
of the region."
Gannett News Service contributed to this report. Reach Michael Risinit at
Contact: Rubenstein Communications,
Inc. – Public Relations
Maya Israel (212) 843-8003 cell:
For Immediate Release
TO REPORT ON JOB LOSSES AT INDIAN POINT:
Bottom Line More Important than Indian Point Workforce
Garrison, NY – Today, the environmental
group Riverkeeper denounces any claims by Entergy asserting that the continued
operation of Indian Point is good for the regional work force. As reported in
a Poughkeepsie Journal news Friday, 200 Indian Point plant workers have been
let go via early retirement and buy-out incentives since Entergy purchased the
plants in 2000 and 2001. Entergy spokesman Jim Steets also indicated that the
company will be considering more employee cutbacks over several years.
The following is a statement from
Alex Matthiessen, Hudson Riverkeeper and Executive Director of the organization:
“It’s evident that Entergy’s only
concern is its bottom line. For Indian Point workers, that means a loss of jobs.
‘Consolidating’ and ‘efficiency’ are corporate euphemisms for increasing profit
margins by letting workers go. This continual whittling away of Indian Point’s
workforce substantiates what we’ve been saying for years: this out-of-state
corporation is only in the business of making money not protecting its workers
or the public.
It is no secret that Entergy plays
hardball with its workforce. Two looming strikes by Indian Point employees were
averted in 2004 only after months of negotiations. Of top concern to workers
were wages, benefits, and job security.
Entergy has lost the debate on plant
safety and security. Now their slipshod record on labor has also come to light.
It is clear that Entergy doesn’t value the livelihood of Hudson Valley workers
and the beautiful region in which they live. If anyone had lingering doubts
over the importance of Indian Point to the region, this startling revelation
should finally convince them that Entergy is a company that we don’t want in
Friday, February 4,
Number of workers decline at Indian Point
By Dan Shapley
BUCHANAN, Westchester County -- The permanent work force at the Indian Point
nuclear power plants here, has declined from 1,500 to 1,300 since Entergy bought
the plants in 2000 and 2001.
No workers were laid-off, but incentives were provided for early retirement
and buy-outs over the last couple of years, Entergy spokesman James Steets said.
The Indian Point 3 reactor was owned by the New York Power Authority when Entergy
bought it in November 2000.
Indian Point 1, which is inactive, and Indian Point 2 had been owned by Consolidated
Edison when Entergy bought the plants in September 2001.
Consolidation of administrative and management staff between the reactors accounted
for the downsizing, Steets said.
''We're about where we want to be. Over several years as we get better, things
may come down a little more but we don't have a concrete target. You always
look for efficiencies in how you own and operate a plant,'' he said
Roughly one-third of the Indian Point work force lives in Dutchess County, and
more Indian Point workers live in the Town of Wappinger than any other town,
Dan Shapley can be reached at email@example.com
Indian Point, region has its own Vesuvius
By PHIL REISMAN
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: February 1, 2005)
I don't know, maybe I'm missing something. But haven't the Indian Point nuclear
power plants mysteriously faded from the public debate about potential targets
Think back to, well, not that long ago.
It seems like only yesterday that the county was handing out potassium iodide
pills as an antidote to cancer-causing radiation. A voluminous evacuation plan
was ridiculed and rejected as a ludicrous, unworkable document of bureaucratic
folly. Scores of politicians were signing petitions and issuing sound bites
on shutting the joint down as if it were Frankenstein's castle-on-the-Hudson,
and there was talk — serious talk — about government takeover of the Buchanan
facility and converting the big microwave works into a plant fueled by natural
While Indian Point may remain vulnerable to some kind of suicide attack, particularly
from the air, that reality has been superseded, or at least obscured, by the
happy fact that no instances of domestic terrorism have occurred since Sept.
And after all, there are other things to ponder these days besides the possibility
of hijacked jets slamming into a nuclear containment dome. Things like the Iraqi
elections, Social Security reform and — speaking of Frankenstein — the Michael
Gods and monsters came to mind Sunday night while I was watching, of all, things,
the Discovery Channel's docudrama on the last days of Pompeii. As every schoolchild
knows, the Roman city on the Bay of Naples was wiped out in 79 A.D. when Mount
Vesuvius erupted with such ferocity that it caused what the geologists call
a "pyroclastic event," which, suffice it to say, was quick and deadly. About
5,000 people were killed.
Disturbingly, the old volcano is due to blow again — and soon. Only now, there
are some 700,000 people living within a three-mile "red zone" and there is no
realistic hope of safely evacuating them when the next, inevitable disaster
strikes. Many Italians living in the shadow of beautiful Mount Vesuvius have
a fatalistic attitude. Few have accepted financial incentives from the government
So we're fortunate here in the New York suburbs. We have no natural horrors
in this neck of the global woods. We live in a temperate clime on solid ground.
There are no volcanoes, tsunamis and hardly ever any Florida-style hurricanes.
A "drought" means, at worst, a ban on lawn sprinkling.
But we do have the Indian Point nuke plants, a man-made fact of life whose 10-mile
radius reaches a population of more than 367,000 people.
Unlike the forces of nature, however, Indian Point theoretically can be stopped.
And for a moment, it really seemed to be on the political ropes.
It's still operating.
Indeed, nearly 41 months after Sept. 11, the nuclear energy industry is effectively
declaring victory in the Indian Point debate. The Edison Electric Institute,
a major trade association for U.S. shareholder electric companies, handed Indian
Point owner Entergy the institute's first Advocacy Excellence Award.
Announced last month, the award was given for Entergy's public relations campaign
to defend the plants "against efforts to force its closure in the wake of the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks." In other words, Big Energy's most immediate and
most threatening enemy in the brave, new world of color-coded alerts was the
supposed alliance of anti-nuke activists, soccer moms, media naysayers and politicians.
With Indian Point, it's always been code green — the color of money.
Yesterday, I called Laurence P. Gottlieb, the director of communications for
Entergy Nuclear Northeast in White Plains, and asked him if the EEI award was
official confirmation that his side had "won." An accomplished spinmeister,
Gottlieb danced around the question for a while before finally saying, "To me,
the debate is over. The debate as it was originally framed is over. It's in
a new phase of evolution."
The old debate, according to Gottlieb, centered on the question of whether to
immediately close Indian Point.
"That's gone," he said.
Nevertheless, Gottlieb believes that the nuke plants will likely remain a political
football at election time.
But the new debate which has taken hold in recent months has to do with what
he called "macro" issues — the cost of alternative forms of energy vs. nuclear
power. The pro-nuke mantra is that without Indian Point's 2,000 megawatts, the
cost of energy in the region would rise by $1 billion a year.
That's the gamble. In the end, it's always about money. It's about odds, the
laws of probability. And having trust in the wisdom of Gottlieb's bosses.
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a lot better now. Good night, Pompeii.
Spitzer urges closing Indian Point nuke plant
Mon Jan 31, 2005 05:24 PM ET (Reuters)
WASHINGTON, Jan 31 - The Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y.,
just 45 miles north of New York City, should be closed as soon as possible,
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said on Monday.
"It makes no sense to have a nuclear facility there. I think we should
close it when and as soon as we have alternate energy sources to substitute
for the power that is currently being generated," said Spitzer, who is
running for governor.
He was asked about the nuclear power plant, located in the Hudson River Valley,
during a question-and-answer session after he spoke to the National Press Club
on financial issues.
"We absolutely should do what we can to close it because it is a security
risk," he said of the plant operated by New Orleans-based energy group
Entergy Corp. (ETR.N: Quote, Profile, Research) .
A spokesman for Entergy's nuclear unit said Indian Point is a "terrifically
place," and invited Spitzer to visit.
"If (Spitzer) were to come and actually see how well protected it was I
think he'd be less inclined to think (the plant) should be replaced," the
Some local activists are trying to have the plant shut, citing risks of terrorists
flying a commercial jet into the plant's reactor -- causing widespread radiation
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that such a release is highly unlikely
barring multiple failures.
Spitzer, 45, has won national attention for investigating wrongdoing on Wall
Street and elsewhere. He announced in December he is running for governor of
New York in 2006.
Posted for educational and research purposes only, ~ in accordance with Title
17 U.S.C. section 107 ~
NucNews Links and Expanded Archives - http://nucnews.net
Jan 31, 2005 For Immediate Release
Susan Zimet Ulster County Legislator 845-255-2117
Michael Kaplowitz Westchester County Legislator 914-995-2848
Close Indian Point
On Wednesday, February 2, 2005 at
6pm in the Ulster County Legislative chambers, Kingston, N.Y., there will a
presentation to the Ulster County Legislature on a request from Westchester
County to join them in asking for the closure of Indian Point.
Legislators Susan Zimet of Ulster
County and guest Michael Kaplowitz, Westchester County Legislator will be the
speakers. Legislator Kaplowitz, the leading lawmaker in the fight to close Indian
Point Nuclear Power Plants, has previously been tapped for his expertise on
this controversial issue by several other law-making bodies, including the New
York City Council and the U.S. Congress.
A 15-minute film will be shown followed
by a presentation by Legislator Kaplowitz on the dangers presented by allowing
Indian Point to stay operational.
To date, 52 Municipalities in 3
States have passed shutdown resolutions. And for a third year in a row, Westchester
County Executive Spano, Rockland County Executive Vanderhoef and Orange County
Executive Diana have refused to submit their Annual Certification Letters for
Indian Point’s emergency evacuation plans.
“Ulster County unanimously supported
a resolution asking the U.S. DOT to properly label the transporting of depleted
uranium as radioactive. This was done to protect our first responders so they
could properly protect themselves from the hazards of this radioactive material
in case of an accident. The damage to our first responders as well as the general
public would be catastrophic if an accident was to happen at Indian Point. I
hope that the Ulster County Legislature will be as forward thinking about Indian
Point as they were with the issue of depleted uranium. ” Said Zimet, the author
of D.U. transportation resolution.
“ I am grateful for Legislator Zimet’s
effort to bring this important issue to the forefront of the Ulster County Legislature’s
agenda.” Said Westchester County Legislator Michael B. Kaplowitz, the featured
speaker on the topic. “ With the help of our neighbor to the north and others,
we will send a strong message to Entergy not to plan for a long, drawn-out re-licensing
January 26, 2005
Drunk guard suspended,
By Greg Cannon
Buchanan – A security supervisor at the Indian Point nuclear plant has been
suspended for at least two weeks after he was found to be under the influence
of alcohol Monday while on the job, according to his employer.
The man, who was not identified,
was not at the Hudson River plant when a colleague smelled alcohol on his breath,
according to Jim Steets, a spokesman for plant-owner Entergy Corp.
But he was acting as a safety supervisor
at a firing range where other Entergy security workers were undergoing firearms
training. Following company and Nuclear Regulatory Commission protocol, the
colleague reported the incident to his superiors. The man was then given a Breathalyzer
test that showed his blood-alcohol content to be above the NRC limit of .04
Under the unpaid suspension, the
man is barred from the plant and must undergo a drug and alcohol assistance
program while plant officials review the incident. Entergy allows workers one
such offense, but a second would mean automatic termination. Steets said this
is the man's first offense.
If and when the man is cleared
to return to work, he will be subject to additional drug and alcohol testing.
The incident was reported as required
by the NRC, which requires nuclear plant operators to deal aggressively with
drug and alcohol use in the workplace, according to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.
He said worker behavior is also monitored "for significant signs of abnormal
Workers are required to report
any relevant concerns. In addition to responding to those reports, workers are
tested randomly for drugs and alcohol at the plant and at Entergy's regional
headquarters in White Plains. Many employees there have access to the plant
about 23 miles away.
That was the case with a worker
in the White Plains office who was found to be under the influence of alcohol
after a random test in September. Steets said that worker went through the required
treatment and testing programs and is back on the job.
say any failures of Indian Point emergency sirens is unacceptable
Rockland County Reps. Eliot
Engel (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) and Sue Kelly (R-NY) yesterday
sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission telling the agency that
any failure of the emergency sirens at the Indian Point nuclear power plant
is unacceptable. The NRC has taken the “outrageous” position that a failure
rate of 10 percent or more of the sirens is acceptable, the lawmakers said.
"A 10 percent failure rate of sirens at Indian Point could leave 25
percent of the population near the plant completely unaware that they are
in mortal danger," said Engel, a member of the House Energy and Commerce
Committee who has publicly called for the plant's closure. "The NRC
has the responsibility to protect all New Yorkers living around the plant,
and the presumption that it is acceptable for 10 percent of the sirens to
be broken is disgraceful."
"Our emergency plans are only as good as the weakest link. Yet the
NRC is tolerating safety systems that will not alert many in our community
in the event of an emergency," said Lowey. "The NRC should seriously
reconsider its policy and implement a regulation that allow our communities
to rely on working sirens and reliable security plans instead of acceptable
failure rates and crossed fingers."
"This is a common-sense issue," said Kelly. "Every resident
rightfully expects to hear a notification siren in the event of an emergency.
The NRC has an obligation to ensure that 100 percent of those sirens work
and nobody is left unprotected."
& COALITION CALL ON PUTNAM COUNTY EXECUTIVE BONDI TO RETRACT CERTIFICATION
OF INDIAN POINT EMERGENCY PLAN
Certification Letter Submitted
Despite New Concerns With Emergency Plan
GARRISON, NY – January 13, 2005
– Riverkeeper, along with the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, are urging
Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi to retract his county’s 2005 Annual Certification
Letter (ACL) for the Indian Point radiological emergency preparedness plan.
For the second year in a row, Putnam County has submitted its ACL despite grave
flaws in the emergency plans as identified in the 2003 New York State-commissioned
report by Witt & Associates. The Indian Point nuclear power plant is located
in Buchanan, NY, just 24 miles north of New York City.
New concerns about the evacuation
plan’s ability to protect the public have arisen due to recent malfunctions
of the Indian Point siren systems. They have failed to rotate during recent
tests, and it has recently been discovered that there is no back-up power to
operate them in an emergency.
Alex Matthiessen, executive director
of the Putnam-based environmental group Riverkeeper, said, “Indian Point provides
little or no electricity and no tax benefit to Putnam County residents and yet
they are being asked to assume substantial risk to their safety and are footing
the bill for an emergency plan that is patently flawed and unworkable. County
Executive Bondi cannot in good conscience continue to lend credence to the notion
that Indian Point’s emergency plan will protect his constituents. We urge him
to retract his certification letter and join his fellow executives from other
surrounding counties in refusing to certify that the plan is adequate to protect
public health and safety.”
Every January, the four counties
within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) of Indian Point – Westchester,
Rockland, Orange, and Putnam – must determine whether the emergency evacuation
plan is adequate to protect the public from a radioactive release at Indian
Point. In 2002 Governor Pataki hired James Lee Witt, former head of the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation of
the REPP for Indian Pont. The report, released in early 2003, concluded that
the plan is seriously flawed and especially not adequate to protect the public
against a fast-breaking radioactive release. Since the release of the report,
no substantive changes have been made to address a plan that is widely viewed
Upon the 2003 release of the Witt
Report, all four EPZ counties refused to submit their ACL’s; the NY State Emergency
Management Office, respecting county “home rule,” followed suit and refused
to submit certification papers to the FEMA. In 2004 Putnam County was the only
body to submit the paperwork for the evacuation plan.
Mark Jacobs, spokesman for the Indian
Point Safe Energy Coalition, said, “As long as Indian Point continues to operate
on the banks of the Hudson River, the public is at risk. As the county’s highest
elected official, Mr. Bondi’s first priority must be to protect the communities
he represents. Given the grave problems with the plan, Putnam residents are
sitting ducks in the event of an accident at Indian Point, and yet Mr. Bondi
has once again chosen to back Indian Point’s owner over his own constituents.”
While Putnam County’s predominantly
Republican Board of Legislators has consistently rejected certification and
supported the call for Indian Point’s closure, County Executive Bondi has not.
In his September 10, 2003 budget address, Bondi supported Indian Point’s continued
operation and praised Entergy, the plant’s owner.
Contact: Hon. Ellen Jaffee
Erika Caufield, Press Coordinator
Ellen Jaffee Is Joined By Other Legislators in Urging the County Executive to
Withhold Submission of the County’s Annual Certification Letter for Indian Point
New City, NY (January 12, 2005) – Legislator Ellen Jaffee, Chair of
the Environmental Committee, has initiated a letter to Rockland County Executive,
C. Scott Vanderhoef, strongly urging that he withhold the submission of the
County’s Annual Certification Letter (ACL) for the Indian Point radiological
emergency plan. The letter was also
signed by Chairwoman Harriet Cornell, and Legislators Robert Berliner, Gerold
Bierker, William Darden, David Fried, Michael Grant, Denise Kronstadt, VJ Pradhan,
Roman Rodriguez, Ilan Schoenberger, Philip Soskin and Kenneth Zebrowski.
The letter states, “We believe that a reasonable and responsible course
of action would be for you to exercise your leadership by refusing to affix
your signature to the checklist of items and drills, which the Witt report notes
‘are designed to meet specific regulatory requirements, rather than effectively
protect a population’.”
In March 2003 the Witt Report, commissioned by Governor Pataki, criticized
virtually every aspect of the evacuation plan and concluded that the emergency
plan for Indian Point was inadequate, key components unfixable and the region’s
high population density and excessive traffic congestion would only complicate
evacuation for New Yorkers and residents from neighboring states.
Another major concern is the lack of confidence that emergency first responders
have in the Indian Point emergency plan.
In May 2003, 175 first responders, who will be on the front line in the
event of a radiological emergency, signed onto a petition to FEMA and the NRC
expressing their concern.
Legislator Jaffee stated, “Rockland County has a superb and professional
Department of Fire and Emergency Services; however, the Witt report makes it
clear that even the best department could not respond to a mass evacuation of
Jaffee also noted, “Since January 2004 no material changes have been made
to the radiological emergency preparedness plan (REPP).
In fact, new evidence of failing Indian Point siren systems and the risk
of losing power to these siren systems due to no battery back-up power has come
The letter reads: “We are in no way advocating abandonment of the plan.
In the event of an actual emergency, we fully expect the County
Executive to move swiftly to implement the existing
plan for what it is worth.”
Legislator Jaffee added, “The lives of our residents, families, seniors
and especially children are threatened.
As elected officials, we promise in our oath of office to protect the
public’s health and safety. We sincerely hope that the
County Executive will
refuse to approve this first level of certification and join with the legislature
in seeking the immediate closure of Indian Point.”