2006 news about Indian Point

 

Here are 2006 Indian Point articles, editorials, op-eds and letters in chronological order with the most recent first. You can also find news from 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001. If you find an article that should be included, please send it to ipsecpc@bestweb.net.

Pieces specifically about the ongoing leak of tritium and strontium 90 can be found here.

PCB Watch at Indian Point
By Abby Luby

Irradiated water leaking into the ground and into the Hudson River from the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plants has raised concerns that PCBS could also be escaping into the river. The Buchanan based plant owned by Entergy, is situated on the banks of the Hudson River, the country’s largest superfund site for PCB cleanup.

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the oversight agency for the plants, PCBS (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) were found years ago at the oldest Indian Point unit, Unit 1, which closed in 1974. The PCBS were reportedly treated and removed years later. Neil Sheehan of the NRC said that they have been concerned that PCBS could now show up in the groundwater. “If they [Entergy] were to pump out the groundwater, check contamination levels and then do a controlled release to the river, they could be releasing PCBS,” explained Sheehan. “That’s something the [plant] site is going to have to work on. Unit 1 is an old plant and the PCB issue has been raised before.”

Phil Musegaas, policy analyst with the environmental group Riverkeeper, studied test results from monitoring wells at Indian Point since leaks were announced a year and a half ago. “I have not seen anything that suggests there are PCBS in the ground water, assuming they are testing the water properly,” said Musegaas. “But that’s really surprising. I would be amazed if there weren’t any PCBS there.”

Discovering two large underground reservoirs amassed over years of leaking irradiated water beneath Unit 1 and Unit 2 prompted Entergy to test for PCBS.

“We haven’t seen any PCBS in the water we are testing,” said Jim Steets, spokesperson for Entergy. Steets referred to water sampled from the 54 monitoring wells at the plant. “Also no PCBS have been found from the two underground plumes. Had we seen PCBS in our samples, that would indicate a direct tie to the Unit 1 fuel pool, which is where we think the leaks are coming from.” The 40-foot-deep pool stores used radioactive fuel assemblies.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), who is also testing ground water at the plant, allows Entergy to dump prescribed amounts of effluent into the Hudson River every year, but no amount of PCBS are allowed to be released into the river. Should PCBS be discovered in the groundwater and in the river, Entergy’s remediation strategy would change and be more costly. Kimberly Chupa, spokesperson for the DEC, said “We would examine appropriate options for remediation if PCBS were to be found.”

PCBS: Industrial marvel turned toxic

PCBS are synthetic organic chemicals first manufactured commercially in 1929 by Monsanto and were used widely as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment, which was how they were used at Indian Point Unit 1. After years of releasing PCBS into waterways and the environment, their toxicity was attributed to serious health threats and classified by the EPA as probable human carcinogens. Since toxic concentrations of PCBS were in found in Hudson River fish, New York State banned fishing in the Upper Hudson River and commercial fishing of striped bass in the Lower Hudson in 1976. A year later the use of PCBS was banned nationally.

Who’s minding the store?

In 2000 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated 200 miles of the Hudson River as a superfund site. From Hudson Falls down to the Battery in New York City, it is the largest superfund site in the country. General Electric plants at Hudson Falls and Fort Edward discharged between 209,000 and 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the river over 30 years.

Elias Rodrigues of the EPA said even though the agency technically has oversight authority over New York’s utilities on the Hudson River, they were unaware of what was going into the river from nuclear power plants.

“We do not know about any pollutants going into the river at Indian Point,” said Rodrigues. “But any data about that is public information available at our website. You need to check in with the DEC,” urged Rodrigues. “That issue is irrelevant to the goals of the EPA.”

The NRC also defers to the DEC for PCB oversight. “PCBS are not in our regulatory purview,” said Sheehan. “That falls under the state.”

DEC’s Chupa, who would only comment to The North County News via email, wrote that “PCBS are known to be present in the water in the footing drain for Unit-1. They are at very low levels and are being removed from the water prior to release to their discharge canal as required by a condition of their SPDES Permit, which precludes discharge of any PCBS.” (SPDES is the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System). Chupa also wrote “Additionally, Entergy is testing for PCBS in the groundwater/monitoring wells and these samples are not showing any detectable PCBS.”

Chupa said that the DEC didn’t know of any other PCB contamination in “environmental samples taken at this time.” Chupa also wrote that “Fish in the Hudson River are not currently being tested for PCB contamination for Indian Point."

Hudson River Fish Long Contaminated

John Davis, an environmental scientist for the New York State Attorney General’s office explained “bio-accumulation” of PCBS in Hudson River fish.

“Fish eat things that live in river sediment,” said Davis. “When the sediment becomes contaminated, everything in the sediment, like worms and insects, become contaminated too.” Davis said the Hudson’s large mouth bass live as long as 10 years. “The longer the fish live, the more the PCBS build up in their body. We say the PCBS bio-accumulate. PCBS get stuck in the fat of the fish and don’t dissolve.” explained Davis.

Keeping watch

But Entergy claims they will keep a vigilant watch for PCBS that go into the Hudson River. Steets said Entergy will check for PCBS as an ongoing project.

“The frequency and location of the testing will change over time,” said Steets. “But I suspect we will be monitoring and sampling water at the plant for the next 30 years.”

Musegaas said that if PCBS were found close to the river, it could be assumed they were going into the river. “They [Entergy] would be in violation of the Clean Water Act,” he said. “I’m expecting that at some point we’ll get a well sample that will have PCBS in it, but it’s an open ended question.”

###

Time to get after Indian Point staffers who muzzle workers

NY Journal News Editorial: December 26, 2006

Usually when we hear from rank-and-file Indian Point employees, it is to
remind us that the nuclear power plans are "safe, secure and vital," with
some emphasis on vital, as in, "our jobs are vital to us." It was a bit
disheartening then to read where some workers at the Buchanan plants feel
stifled by supervisors when it comes to raising safety issues - so much so
that they have complained to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "Safe,
secure and muzzled" doesn't sound like much of a slogan or policy, now does
it?

Allegations of the employee angst is referenced in the NRC's 54-page
inspection report to Indian Point setting forth what regulators gleaned
during inspections and interviews with workers. An article by staff writer
Greg Clary included this from NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan: "We rely on plant
workers coming forward to raise concerns, not only with (the operator), but
with us, too. If they feel like they're impeded from doing that because
there would be a backlash, we want to know what the company is doing to
address that."

The NRC gave Indian Point 30 days to come up with a plan to make workers
feel more comfortable about speaking up, and the plants have already
announced steps aimed at reinforcing "the importance and necessity for
raising safety issues," said Indian Point spokesman Jim Steets. At the same
time, the NRC said the conditions at the plants are safe for workers and
the public - perhaps evidence that the NRC employee interviews did not
reveal any extraordinary safety problems. In any case, the allegations have
to sting; employees can't sing the company's praises so well in public
while they are biting their tongues on safety in private.

Certainly more than their jobs are at stake.

The NRC findings come as Indian Point owner Entergy Nuclear Northeast is
ramping up for what portends to be a difficult and politics-charged
relicensing process. At the same time, a host of New York and Connecticut
lawmakers is pressing for an independent safety study of Indian Point. The
GOP-led Congress has resisted legislation authorizing the studies, spurred
in part by problems that have ranged from faulty emergency sirens to
leaking radioactive material.

"Everything changes with the new Democratic Congress," Rep. Eliot Engel,
D-Bronx, a co-sponsor with Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-Middletown, Nita Lowey,
D-Harrison, outgoing Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, and Christopher Shays, R-Conn.,
of the Independent Safety Assessment. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.,
sponsored similar legislation in the Senate.

In the meantime, Entergy and the NRC should dismiss whoever - supervisors?
their bosses? employee peers? - is responsible for the mum's-the-word
approach on safety. They undermine the efforts of everyone at Indian Point
who believes the plants are "safe, secure and vital," and heighten
skepticism among the legions who aren't so sure.

###

INDIAN POINT: Entergy crisis
Nuke leaks taint Hudson

By Abby Luby

Contaminated water leaking from the Indian Point Nuclear Reactors forced plant owner Entergy to explain why. At an open house last week industry experts, hydrologists and spent-fuel experts hired by the company attempted to explain the unknown origin of large amounts of leaking, radiated water. Learning about the complex problem from Entergy's perspective, members of the public stopped at each of the dozen exhibits set up at Entergy's training center.

Underground lakes

Entergy's Don Mayer, director of special projects for the Buchanan plant, explained how two lakes of radiated water had amassed under the plant's transformer yard and under the Unit 1 reactor.

"Leaking was taking place under the prior owner in the early 1980s," said Mayer.
"Also, sometime between 2000 and 2005 a leakage occurred that made its way into the plume. That's all we know." Mayer, referring to the lakes as "plumes," said one lake was predominantly laced with tritium, while the other contained mainly Strontium-90. According to a recent report by the National Academies of Science, Strontium-90 is a dangerous radioactive isotope that increases the risk of cancer, and tritium is a known carcinogenic and mutagenic. In August 2005, radioactive leaks were thought to have come from the 40-foot-deep spent-fuel pools containing over 1,000 tons of extremely high radioactive fuel on-site. Spent-fuel pools are 40-foot deep pools that store used radioactive fuel.

New monitoring wells

The underground lake with tritium is about 90 by 200 feet and about 50 feet deep, according to Mayer. "The other one is 30 feet wide by 300 feet long and 50 to 60 feet deep," he said. Entergy has dug 35 new water-monitoring wells, trying to detect where the leaks are coming from. The total number of monitoring wells at plant is up to 54.
"The wells are 50 feet to 120 feet," said hydrologist Matt Bavenik, speaking at the open house about the monitoring wells.

Entergy is planning different types of remediation, explained Mayer. "We will do a pilot remediation test where we pull the tritium out of the ground," he said. "Our primary purpose is to keep it here and not have it flow south to the river."

Not an easy fix

"Tritium remediation is very difficult," said Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear watchdog group that studies the effects of radiation. In a phone interview, Hirsch said it was almost impossible to remove tritium. "Most contaminates are either dissolved or suspended in the water. If it's suspended you can filter it out; if it's dissolved you can run it through things like charcoal ion resins." Because tritium combines with oxygen to form a liquid it actually is the water, said Mr. Hirsch. "It's nothing you can filter out, nothing you can readily remove. You can get it out by breaking the water apart with electrolysis, which is immensely expensive."

Other radionuclides from the spent-fuel pools are heavier isotopes like Strontium-90 and Cesium 137, that don't travel with water as well. "These are also very bad radionuclides," said Mr. Hirsch. "But at least you can remove them from water."
Clean-up work on the leaks is expected to start at the end of the month, said Mayer.

Dumping in the Hudson

Most of the radiated water is flowing into the Hudson River, where the plant is located. "We want to remediate that and try to contain the water and control where it flows," said Mayer.

The plant dumps over 10 million gallons of radiated water into the Hudson River every year, according to the 2005 Annual Radioactive Effluent Release Report Entergy filed with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in April of 2006.

Nearby residents and environmental advocacy groups such as Riverkeeper worry that radiated water will reach the public drinking supply and will affect bathers at the Croton Point Park beaches.

Neil Sheehan, spokesperson for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said last spring that drinking water supplies tested two miles away from the plant tested free of contaminants.
Phillip Musegaas, a policy analyst with Riverkeeper based in Tarrytown, said he hopes that Entergy can find the source of the leaks. "Then they will be able to get a plan going to clean it up," he said. "Right now, it's difficult to know just how much contamination is going into the environment."

Musegaas said Entergy's effort was due in part to their upcoming relicensing application. "We have to keep in mind that they trying to put their best face forward," he said. "But contaminating the river is a serious problem. Tens of thousands of gallons of water are leaching out into the ground and most of it is going into the river."

###

Stop playing games at Indian Point

Week in and week out, something always seems to be going wrong at the Indian Point nuclear power plants, yet nothing is ever deemed to be a danger to the public.

Amazing.

The mere existence of a ticking time bomb in the middle of a heavily populated area where hundreds of thousands of lives could be obliterated in minutes is enough of a daily danger, and enough of a reason to pull the plug on the plants.

Many have taken that stance over the years, but their outcries evaporate into the air, much like the harmful emissions that float over the Hudson River.
Entergy is currently in the process of getting all its paperwork ready to seek a renewal of its licenses from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The license for Indian Point 2 expires in 2013. The license for Indian Point 3 expires in 2015. Based on the plant's flawed performance over the last 30 years alone, the NRC shouldn't even open the envelopes from Entergy. After all, Indian Point 2, just a few years ago, received the lowest rating of any of the 103 nuclear plants in the nation. And the problems continue today....

Leaks, malfunctions, false alarms

The plants keep springing leaks of various kinds. The emergency siren system keeps malfunctioning. The so-called evacuation plan keeps attracting more negative attention. Then, last Wednesday, the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) almost caused mass hysteria by distributing an e-mail to the media and others that declared an emergency at Indian Point.

Within a few minutes, SEMO, which was conducting an internal training session, discovered it had made a major blunder and hurriedly rectified the situation with a follow-up e-mail. This is one of the agencies supposedly keeping a close eye on Indian Point for the public. If it wasn't such a serious topic, it would make a terrific sitcom, and there are plenty of fools that could be cast.

There's a bill pending in Congress calling for an independent safety assessment of Indian Point. Great, so what's the holdup? Are lawmakers waiting until after Entergy gets its licenses renewed so such a study would essentially mean squat if anything negative is discovered? Instead of wasting money on a study, money should be invested to transform the site for either an alternative energy source or research center.

The plants were beneficial when they were new, but they have steadily declined to the point where they are now a serious safety hazard. Any license extension would be like playing Russian roulette.
Game over.

###

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected an effort to change how it relicenses plants like Indian Point.

By LIZ ANDERSON
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: December 5, 2006)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected an attempt by Westchester
County Executive Andrew Spano to broaden the standards it uses to review
plants such as Indian Point when they apply for relicensing.

The decision comes just weeks after Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owners
of the Buchanan plants, announced it would seek to continue operating them
through 2035. The licenses for the existing plants expire in 2013 and 2015;
the company plans to formally apply for 20-year license extensions in the
spring.

"It is just outrageous," said Susan Tolchin, Spano's chief adviser, of the
ruling. "Unfortunately it's a typical decision that didn't take into
account all of the things we brought to their attention." She said the
decision "once again sides with the nuclear industry rather than with
concern about public safety, which is what County Executive Spano is most
concerned about."

Spano, who opposes the plants' relicensing, had sent a petition to the NRC
in May 2005 in the hope of making the process more difficult for Entergy,
should it go that route. Among other things, he asked the NRC to treat a
plant seeking relicensing in the same way it would a new operator seeking
to build a plant in that location today, review such issues as local
demographics, the physical site, emergency evacuation plans and site
security.

The NRC, in its ruling, denied both Spano's request and a similar petition
from the mayor of Brick Township, N.J., north of the Oyster Creek Nuclear
Generating Station. The agency said the two petitions "raise issues that
the commission already considered at length in developing the license
renewal rule."

"These issues are managed by the ongoing regulatory process or under other
regulations, or are issues beyond the commission's regulatory authority,"
it added.

But Tolchin said the demographics had changed.

"When these plants were sited here ... this was something that was not
meant to be forever and ever. Things change, roads get clogged, cities get
built up, population increases, we had Sept. 11. The county executive
remains concerned that he cannot safely evacuate people if the plant has a
fast-breaking (disaster) scenario."

Lisa Rainwater, director of the Indian Point Campaign for the Riverkeeper,
called the NRC's decision "ludicrous."

Tolchin said Spano's staff planned to hold a "strategy session" today to
discuss what to do next.

###

Indian Point's emergency phone system silenced
By GLENN BLAIN
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: December 5, 2006)

An emergency telephone system used by Indian Point officials to quickly notify local governments and the state about problems at the nuclear plants was out of service for at least part of the weekend.

Technicians making routine tests yesterday discovered that the Radiological Emergency Communication System was not working, said Jim Steets, a spokesman for plant owner Entergy Nuclear Northeast. The outage was traced to a computer problem and the system was restored by 9:15 a.m.

"It could have gone down over the weekend, but no sooner than last Friday," Steets said. "The system checked out fine Friday afternoon."

Steets insisted that the complex has backup systems that would have let it communicate directly with the state and county emergency service officials if necessary. If all else failed, he added, they simply could have called government officials directly.

"It is a dedicated phone system set up to communicate in a radiological emergency," Steets said. "It is a phone line. So they would just go to a normal telephone system if we had to make the call."

The outage was just the latest problem for Entergy. On Thursday, Entergy had to shut down one of the reactors at the complex because a pipe was found to be leaking water and steam into the containment dome that houses the reactor. The leak was repaired and the reactor resumed operation on Saturday.

Entergy recently announced plans to seek new federal licenses for the plants, which would keep them operating through 2035. The original 40-year licenses for Indian Point 2 and 3 are set to expire in 2013 and 2015, respectively.

Opponents of the nuclear plants say the telephone system's failure is further proof that Entergy's management of the facility is lacking and that the company should not receive new licenses.

"Time and time again we see Entergy management failing to maintain properly emergency equipment, such as sirens and now this phone system," said Lisa Rainwater, director of the environmental group Riverkeeper's Indian Point Campaign.

Susan Tolchin, chief adviser to Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, said the communication system outage, while not a serious problem, was "not a good thing."

Such communications difficulties, Tolchin added, were among the reasons why Spano believes the plants should not receive new licenses.

"They would have had to have called everybody on a normal phone line," she said.

Reach Glenn Blain at gblain@lohud.com or 914-694-5066.

###

The 3-Legged Indian Point Table Top Drill

I have been an observer of the past three Indian Point radiation emergency “drills”. The November 14, 2006 exercise was a very professionally done protocol review, but it no more resembled a genuine drill than an architectural schematic resembles a building.

Thus to represent the exercise as proof that the Indian Point radiation emergency plan could save one life - much less hundreds of thousands - amounts to a fraud upon the public.

It is also worthy of note, that none of the pre-scripted scenarios I have seen involve a major emergency. A prime illustration of how significantly the events are underplayed, is that in the 2004 exercise, which involved a terrorist flown airplane hitting Indian Point property (but very conveniently missing the plant’s critical structures) the script indicated there was “no traffic in Westchester.” In this year’s script, hours after the public had been notified of a radiation release from Indian Point and the official declaration of a General Emergency (the highest nuclear incident category) had been officially declared, there was only “heavy traffic” flowing smoothly.

Were that only the case on a regular day, commuters would be overjoyed.

Michel Lee

###

Indian Point safety drill conducted; opponents say it wasn't realistic enough

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Buchanan - The Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, SEMO and the NRC Tuesday conducted a bi-annual drill at the Indian Point nuclear power plants to review how responders did in the face of simulated emergencies.

While the results of the drill will be scrutinized and reviewed, a
consortium of environmental groups opposed to the continued operation of the plants, gave the drill a failing grade.

The Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition believes that since the drill was
inadequate and the emergency plan is "very, very weak," said coalition
steering committee member Michel Lee. "There is absolutely no way you can have a workable emergency plan for a major accident or terrorist attack at Indian Point, but you could certainly have the best of many bad plans and we're not even there yet."

James Steets, spokesman for Indian Point owner Entergy, said emergency services can be well prepared based on what they learn from these simulated exercises. "Many, many parts of these exercises are real, even though they are playing a role, they're dealing with events that they have to address, that they have to make decisions about, that consider all kinds of real obstacles for making decisions about what can be done or should be done about protecting the plants."

Copyright C 2006 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.

###

Plant's hot leak
October 9, 2006

http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/460032p-386898c.html

Fix due at lndian Pt. nuke
BY ABBY LUBY
DAILY NEWS WRITER

Radioactive water leaking under the Indian Point Nuclear Power plant site
and into the ground has grown to roughly the size of the Central Park
Reservoir, plant officials told the Daily News.

Cleanup of the leaks at the aging Westchester County plant, 24 miles
upstream from New York City on the Hudson River, is set to start by the end
of the month, said Don Mayer, director of special projects for Entergy,
which runs the plant.

But even as the long-planned fix begins, the size of the problem continues
to grow.

"The underground area has contaminated water that is 50 to 60 feet deep,"
said Mayer. "There is also another area, or underground plume, that is about
30 feet wide by 350 feet long."

Nearby residents and environmental advocacy groups, including Robert F.
Kennedy's Riverkeeper, fear the radiation will seep into underground
aquifers and reach public drinking supplies.

"Tens of thousands of gallons of water are leaching out into the ground, but
most of it is going into the river. It's a serious problem," said Phillip
Musegaas, a policy analyst with the Riverkeeper.

Entergy, which has dug 54 wells to monitor and detect contamination in the
ground water, maintains the drinking water is safe. Drinking supplies tested
2 miles from the plant last spring were found free of radioactive
contaminants, according to Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The leaks are believed to be coming from spent-fuel pools and other areas
around the reactors. "One area is predominantly leaking tritium and the other Strontium-90," Mayer said.

Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope that increases the risk of cancer, and
tritium is carcinogenic and mutagenic, according to experts from the
National Academies of Science.

"We want to remediate that and try to contain the water and control where it
flows," Mayer said.

###

INDIAN POINT: Entergy crisis

Nuke leaks taint Hudson


By Abby Luby

Contaminated water leaking from the Indian Point Nuclear Reactors forced plant owner Entergy to explain why. At an open house last week industry experts, hydrologists and spent-fuel experts hired by the company attempted to explain the unknown origin of large amounts of leaking, radiated water. Learning about the complex problem from Entergy's perspective, members of the public stopped at each of the dozen exhibits set up at Entergy's training center.

Underground lakes
Entergy's Don Mayer, director of special projects for the Buchanan plant, explained how two lakes of radiated water had amassed under the plant's transformer yard and under the Unit 1 reactor.

"Leaking was taking place under the prior owner in the early 1980s," said Mayer.
"Also, sometime between 2000 and 2005 a leakage occurred that made its way into the plume. That's all we know." Mayer, referring to the lakes as "plumes," said one lake was predominantly laced with tritium, while the other contained mainly Strontium-90. According to a recent report by the National Academies of Science, Strontium-90 is a dangerous radioactive isotope that increases the risk of cancer, and tritium is a known carcinogenic and mutagenic. In August 2005, radioactive leaks were thought to have come from the 40-foot-deep spent-fuel pools containing over 1,000 tons of extremely high radioactive fuel on-site. Spent-fuel pools are 40-foot deep pools that store used radioactive fuel.

New monitoring wells
The underground lake with tritium is about 90 by 200 feet and about 50 feet deep, according to Mayer. "The other one is 30 feet wide by 300 feet long and 50 to 60 feet deep," he said. Entergy has dug 35 new water-monitoring wells, trying to detect where the leaks are coming from. The total number of monitoring wells at plant is up to 54.
"The wells are 50 feet to 120 feet," said hydrologist Matt Bavenik, speaking at the open house about the monitoring wells.

Entergy is planning different types of remediation, explained Mayer. "We will do a pilot remediation test where we pull the tritium out of the ground," he said. "Our primary purpose is to keep it here and not have it flow south to the river."

Not an easy fix
"Tritium remediation is very difficult," said Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear watchdog group that studies the effects of radiation. In a phone interview, Hirsch said it was almost impossible to remove tritium. "Most contaminates are either dissolved or suspended in the water. If it's suspended you can filter it out; if it's dissolved you can run it through things like charcoal ion resins." Because tritium combines with oxygen to form a liquid it actually is the water, said Mr. Hirsch. "It's nothing you can filter out, nothing you can readily remove. You can get it out by breaking the water apart with electrolysis, which is immensely expensive."

Other radionuclides from the spent-fuel pools are heavier isotopes like Strontium-90 and Cesium 137, that don't travel with water as well. "These are also very bad radionuclides," said Mr. Hirsch. "But at least you can remove them from water."
Clean-up work on the leaks is expected to start at the end of the month, said Mayer.

Dumping in the Hudson
Most of the radiated water is flowing into the Hudson River, where the plant is located. "We want to remediate that and try to contain the water and control where it flows," said Mayer.
The plant dumps over 10 million gallons of radiated water into the Hudson River every year, according to the 2005 Annual Radioactive Effluent Release Report Entergy filed with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in April of 2006.

Nearby residents and environmental advocacy groups such as Riverkeeper worry that radiated water will reach the public drinking supply and will affect bathers at the Croton Point Park beaches.

Neil Sheehan, spokesperson for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said last spring that drinking water supplies tested two miles away from the plant tested free of contaminants.
Phillip Musegaas, a policy analyst with Riverkeeper based in Tarrytown, said he hopes that Entergy can find the source of the leaks. "Then they will be able to get a plan going to clean it up," he said. "Right now, it's difficult to know just how much contamination is going into the environment."

Musegaas said Entergy's effort was due in part to their upcoming relicensing application. "We have to keep in mind that they trying to put their best face forward," he said. "But contaminating the river is a serious problem. Tens of thousands of gallons of water are leaching out into the ground and most of it is going into the river."

###

October, 2006

Westchester Parent Magazine

STANDING AT THE CROSSROADS
By Renee Cho, Editor

I just received the information packet from Briarcliff High School for my son’s fall semester. In it is a detailed Indian Point Radiological Emergency Evacuation Plan. Planning for worst case scenarios has become a fact of life in the five years since 9/11, but these next few months will be crucial in determining our quality of life for the future. In January 2007, Entergy, owner of the Indian Point nuclear power plants, will likely petition the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to renew its operating license for Indian Point for another twenty years. Can we and our children live with two more decades of environmental damage caused by Indian Point and the fear of a potential catastrophe there?
Given the high cost of oil and the ominous consequences of global warming, some people may now be questioning the wisdom of trying to shut down Indian Point. After all, isn’t nuclear energy supposed to be cheap and clean? It certainly appears that way when nuclear-produced electricity is touted to be 2 cents per KWh. But this price doesn’t reflect the actual costs of building a nuclear power plant, disposing of its radioactive waste, or dismantling a plant when its life is over. And part of what makes nuclear energy appear cheap is that the U.S. government (i.e. we the taxpayers) has spent ten times more on subsidies to the nuclear industry than it has on renewable energy sources. So given all this and the radioactivity lasting hundreds of thousands of years that nuclear power plants leave behind, are we and our children really getting a good deal?

Times have changed since the two reactors at Indian Point went online in Buchanan in 1973 and 1976. In 1973, the population of Westchester County was 886,600; today it is 940,000. 20 million people now live within the 50-mile “peak injury zone” of Indian Point.
When most U.S. reactors were first built, it was assumed that radioactive waste would be stored onsite only temporarily before being transferred to a reprocessing facility. But reprocessing was banned in 1979 because of concerns about the dangers of stockpiling weapons-grade plutonium. Spent fuel rods were never intended to be indefinitely stored onsite at most nuclear power plants as they are today. In August 2005, it was learned that Indian Point 2’s spent fuel pool was leaking tritium and strontium-90 into the groundwater and the Hudson River; no one knows how long this leak of radioactive hazardous substances has been going on. Meanwhile, the Yucca Mountain repository for nuclear waste located in an earth-quake prone area of Nevada is set to open in 2017, but still faces many legal challenges.
Of course, the biggest change in the 30 plus years since Indian Point was constructed is the threat of terrorism. When we hear the nightly news about terrorist plots and the Mideast at war, we can’t help but remember that terrorists flew past Indian Point on their way to the World Trade Towers on 9/11 and that nuclear power plant plans were found in their possession.

Given all we know now, would a new plant be approved at the Indian Point site today?
The NRC licenses new commercial power reactors for 40 years and renews licenses for an additional 20 years. Before new power plants receive approval for their initial operating license, many factors are taken into consideration including population density around the plants and the viability of their evacuation plans in case of a radiological emergency. But contrary to what one would expect or hope, the license renewal process is extremely limited and examines only environmental effects and physical plant safety.
The environmental assessment reviews the effects an extended license would have on endangered species, the effects of cooling water systems on fish and ground water quality. The safety review makes sure there is a plan in place to maintain all physical structures and systems whose aging could affect safety.
Public hearings are held to inform the public and get its input (public meeting notices are posted on the NRC’s website at www.nrc.gov), and the public can petition the NRC to consider issues other than those within its narrow scope. When the review is completed, the NRC publishes its assessment and recommendation; the whole process takes about 30 months.
In May 2005, Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano petitioned the NRC to amend the rules for license renewal of all nuclear power plants. The petition would mandate the NRC to only relicense plants that meet all the requirements they would have to meet if applying for their initial operating license, and to evaluate conditions that have changed since the building of the plants, as well as worst case scenarios. Spano’s petition is currently being reviewed by NRC staff and a decision probably won’t be issued before January 2007.
In June 2005, Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) introduced legislation into the House to reform the NRC’s relicensing process so that any renewal must meet the same criteria as an initial application to operate. Unfortunately, Lowey’s legislation has been stalled in the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality since last July.
To further pressure the NRC, legislation was sent to both the House of Representatives and the Senate this past spring requiring the NRC to conduct an Independent Safety Assessment (ISA) of Indian Point. This would compel the NRC to conduct an in-depth investigation into the design, construction, maintenance and safety performance of Indian Point’s reactors; evaluate its evacuation plan; and address the criticisms of the emergency plan raised in the January 2003 review of the plant done by former FEMA head James Lee Witt. In March, the House bill was referred to the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, but hopefully it will be brought to the floor for consideration before Congress adjourns this month.
Over 400 elected officials have called for Indian Point’s closure. To date, 59 municipalities, including five counties have passed resolutions opposing Indian Point’s relicensing. If Indian Point’s reactors are not relicensed, they will be shut down.
Indian Point is at a crossroads, so the time to act is now! If you want to prevent Indian Point from operating for another twenty years, visit Riverkeeper at www.riverkeeper.org and sign the petition against relicensing. Visit the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition at www.ipsecinfo.org to sign a petition calling for the closure of Indian Point. Call and write your representatives in Congress to let them know that you support the legislation calling for an ISA. To contact your representatives, visit http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/index.html

###

Security exercises planned at Indian Point

Copyright © 2006 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.

Buchanan – Entergy Nuclear Northeast will be participating in an NRC-evaluated security exercise this week at its Indian Point Energy Center, in Buchanan, N.Y.

“The exercise, which the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will evaluate, provides us the opportunity to demonstrate for the regulator our security and defense capabilities and look for areas to improve,” said IPEC site vice president Fred Dacimo.

Force-on-force exercises involve attempts to gain access to plants in a simulated terrorist attack, and the response of defending security forces.

During the drills and exercise, persons near the site may hear the sound of simulated gunfire or other loud noises as participants carry out scenarios that are intended to be as realistic as possible.

“We are informing the public now about these events so there is no undue alarm caused by what they may hear around the site,” Dacimo said. Local officials and law enforcement agencies have been informed of the events. The exercises are expected to take place in the evening as well as during daylight hours.

In 2003, after volunteering, Entergy was among the first nuclear-power sites in the country to participate in a “force-on-force” exercise that the NRC was conducting as a pilot project. The NRC was developing at that time an ongoing security program to evaluate security enhancements that were added after 9/11 to protect against an expanded terrorist threat.

Following the 2003 exercise, former commission chairman Nils Diaz said that Indian Point has a "strong defensive strategy and capability," and that the security force had "successfully protected the plant from repeated mock-adversary attacks."

Entergy has engaged the services of Giuliani Partners, formed by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as consultants on security and emergency planning. The Giuliani team is assisting Entergy in preparing for the exercise.

###

U.N. watchdog agency might review Indian Point

By Greg Bruno, Times Herald Record

October 12, 2006

Buchanan - Among those being considered for a top-to-bottom review of safety at the Indian Point nuclear power plant is the International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N. nuclear watchdog better known for inspections in North Korea than upstate New York.

A spokesman for Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, said the congresswoman was told yesterday by Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Dale Klein that the agency might conduct the safety review. “Klein mentioned IAEA as a possibility,” said the spokesman, Kevin Callahan.

In a statement yesterday, the NRC said it plans to conduct a review of reactor oversight at the Indian Point plant, “and perhaps others.” Plans for the review will be finalized within 30 days, the NRC said. The agency did not mention who would conduct the assessment.

Kelly said Klein’s commitment was a “step in the right direction” to “ensure that surrounding communities are protected from any gaps or weaknesses” in plant operation.

But Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, was less upbeat. “What the NRC has announced is that it will review its oversight process, not conduct new oversight. We need a comprehensive review of Indian Point overall, not a bureaucratic assessment of how things are reviewed.”

###

NUCLEAR WASTE: Indian Point opponents react to NRC report

Greenwire, Monday, October 9, 2006

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission report last week that said radioactive
water leaks have not affected public health drew fire from
environmentalists who maintained it was too early to tell whether leaks
from Indian Point and other nuclear reactors posed health hazards.

Riverkeeper policy analyst Phillip Musegaas called the NRC's findings
premature because, he said, important facts remain unknown, including
how long the water leaks had been occurring at the New York plant.

The report found that "the potential exists for unplanned and
unmonitored releases of radioactive fluids to migrate offsite into the
public domain" under existing regulations, but that the tritium leaks
that have been previously discovered at nuclear plants post no threat to
public health (Greenwire, Oct. 5).

Tritium leaks measured on-site at the Braidwood plant in Illinois this
spring, and last year at the Indian Point plant, both significantly
exceeded EPA's standards of 20,000 picocuries per liter (Greenwire, Aug.
30).

Buchanan, N.Y., Mayor Dan O'Neill said that Entergy properly addressed
the Indian Point leaks and called the site the "safest power plant in
the Hudson Valley."

Musegaas objected to industry self-regulation. "Our other concern about
the report is that once again, the NRC is relying on the voluntary
actions by the industry to solve these problems," Musegaas said. "The
NRC is not looking at passing new regulations that would address the
problems at these plants that lead to leaks" (Sean Gorman, White Plains
[N.Y.] Journal News, Oct. 8).

###

Leaked contaminated water pools grow

NEW YORK, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- New York's Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant is leaking radioactive water into the ground, it was reported Monday.

Contaminated water under the plant, 24 miles upstream from New York City on the Hudson River, has grown to approximately the size of the Central Park Reservoir, the New York Daily News said Monday.

Don Mayer, special projects director for Entergy, which runs the plant, said the underground area has contaminated water between 50 feet and 60 feet deep, the Daily News said. Another area is about 30 feet wide by 350 feet long.

Mayer said the area is leaking primarily strontium-90 and tritium, both carcinogenic, the Daily News said, but Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission both said drinking supplies tested two miles from the plant were found contaminant free.

Mayer said cleanup of the leaks is scheduled to begin at the end of the month, the Daily News said.

###

Entergy tells NRC the new Indian Point notification system is built on lessons learned

Mid-Hudson News, Oct. 7, 2006

Peekskill – Two-thirds of the new warning sirens are in place, and are being tested, in the ten-mile radius around the Indian Point Energy Center. All 150 sirens are to be installed by sometime early next year.

Entergy officials told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at a public meeting in Peekskill on Friday, that the new system relies strongly on redundancy to ensure reliability, as well as multi-level power backup to keep the system, and each of the individual sirens, working in the event of a power failure.

The current system, using out-of-date custom software from multiple vendors, is causing more frequent problems, although Entergy’s Director of Emergency Planning Mike Solbodien defines that as working “98 percent of the time”, instead of 100 percent.

How Entergy is coping with the current system was the subject of extended NRC probing during the first part of the almost three-hour meeting.

Solbodien, said they have learned some hard lessons from their efforts to make the old system work.

“We’re using more than one technology. It’s all commercial, off-the-shelf technology. It’s all tested technology. And, it’s redundant, so, we have many things doing the same thing, physically separately and operationally separately, so we have the highest insurance the system will work at all times.”

Solbodien and other Entergy officials said the new system is fully integrated with New York State’s current high-tech emergency notification system.

Energy’s Indian Point Site Vice President Fred Dacimo said the four-faceted system will, in his words be a 21ste century “public information system that will be a model for the rest of the nation”.

The afternoon session was sparsely attended. About half the roughly 100 people in the room were either with the NRC or Entergy. That drew fire from one of the four citizens who spoke.

Mark Jacobs, of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, took the NRC to task for holding the meeting in the afternoon, instead of the usual evening time. Deputy Regional Administrator Mark Dapas took responsibility for the scheduling, noting that typically, this sort of meeting would normally take place at their regional office near Philadelphia.

Other questions raised during public comment dealt with the scope and reliability of the planned backup system, and with security of the software against outside hacking.

###

House passes Kelly legislation to increase security at nuke plants including Indian Point

Mid-Hudson News, Sept. 29, 2006

(Washington, DC) – The House of Representatives has passed legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Sue Kelly that would help strengthen security at waterside nuclear power plants.

As part of an effort to increase the Coast Guard presence along the Hudson River in the vicinity of Indian Point, Kelly introduced the bill on June 14. When she questioned Coast Guard officials about security patrols at Indian Point during a Congressional hearing in May, they agreed with her assessment that enhanced patrols are necessary to fully protect the plants from any potential security breach along the Hudson River.

Kelly partnered with U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), who similarly has a waterside nuclear power plant in his Congressional district, and worked to get her legislation passed as part of the Coast Guard Authorization Act that was approved by the House.

The bill will allow the Coast Guard to work with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to better safeguard nuclear facilities like the Indian Point facility along the Hudson River and provide vessels and weaponry capable of thwarting waterborne attacks, Kelly said.

The Coast Guard currently patrols Indian Point only periodically with a 65-foot tug boat that lacks the speed or weaponry to fully protect the plants from a terrorist threat. Barrow has concerns like Kelly about potential vulnerabilities at the Vogtle Nuclear facility in Waynesboro, Ga., which is located on the Savannah River.

By making the Coast Guard the primary federal agency for the maritime safety of U.S. nuclear power facilities, Kelly and Barrow's legislation enables the Coast Guard to provide the increased resources necessary to procure a faster and better-equipped Coast Guard vessel to protect Indian Point.

###

Indian Point sirens sound
By GREG CLARY
gclary@lohud.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: September 14, 2006)

BUCHANAN — All but a half-dozen of Indian Point's 156 emergency sirens tested properly last night, with the few failures spread across the 10-mile evacuation radius around the nuclear plant.

Only Putnam County came away with a perfect score for its 10 sirens.

"We were 100 percent successful," said Adam Stiebeling, Putnam's deputy commissioner of emergency services. "That makes my reporting job easy."

The 7:30 p.m. test — held at that time to reach more residents at home — was one of the last for this group of 156 sirens.

They'll be replaced by the end of January with a new system, which may include automatic telephoning of residents in affected areas as a backup warning.

Westchester, Rockland and Orange, the other counties in the emergency zone, had two malfunctions each, though only Rockland had a confirmed failure of a siren to sound, officials said.

"I believe the problems here were rotation sensors, which has been a problem that has plagued the system since they were first installed," said Anthony Sutton, Westchester's top emergency official. "There'll be no moving parts, hopefully, in the new system."

The current siren system is designed to alert residents of Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties who live within 10 miles of the nuclear plant to turn on their TVs or radios in the event of an emergency.

Indian Point officials said a WHUD emergency radio broadcast interrupted local cable television stations last night without incident, alerting viewers of the test.

"We're pleased because the test demonstrated that the problems we've had in the past have been solved," Indian Point spokesman Jim Steet said. "Not just with this test but with several in a row."

The new $10 million replacement system, in addition to broadcasting simultaneously in four directions from each siren, will cover more of the emergency zone's parklands and will have the capacity to give voice commands in some locations.

Last night's test was part of an annual evaluation required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to confirm that at least 94 percent of the sirens work.

The tests check sound, rotation and communication with Indian Point and the four counties' emergency centers.

In areas where the sirens fail during a real emergency, local police would be required to alert residents street by street.

Last year, the sirens failed on such a wholesale basis that elected officials called for the NRC to require a better system.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., attached an amendment to the Energy Act of 2005 that required renovating the sirens' backup power source, and the company announced plans to replace the entire system.

At one point during the summer of 2005, the sirens failed three times in a one-month period.

Two quarterly tests this year were relatively routine, with all 156 working properly in the March exercise.

County emergency officials have suggested that residents use the quarterly tests as a reminder to review emergency planning in their own homes.

They added that having the test at night improved the likelihood of more people hearing the sirens.

The company is on schedule to meet the Jan. 30 deadline for completing the replacement, Indian Point officials say.

About two-thirds of the new sirens have been installed.

###

Nuclear Threat
Power plants vulnerable or secure?

By Peter Urban, Connecticut Post, September 10, 2006

Despite efforts to improve security, the nation's nuclear power plants remain vulnerable to terrorist attack five years after Sept. 11, concerned citizens and members of Congress say.

Connecticut is one of 31 states with nuclear power plants. The Millstone complex, which has two operating reactors and one closed reactor, is in Waterford, about 65 miles east of Bridgeport. It is operated by Dominion Generation. About 50 miles west of Bridgeport, Entergy Nuclear Northeast operates the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y.

Both plants have been the target of fierce criticism from some neighbors who fear for their safety, especially if terrorists should strike. Dominion and Entergy say the plants are safe and secure and the nuclear power industry argues that a Chernobyl-style meltdown in this country is improbable.

Phillip Musegaas, policy analyst at Riverkeeper Inc., a New York-based environmental group, said that his organization believes security at Indian Point is inadequate and vulnerable to terrorism.

"There is still no evidence the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] has upgraded their security regulations enough to guarantee that plants are protected from the type of attacks that occurred on Sept. 11," he said.

Riverkeeper officials have said that the Bridgeport region faces a greater potential threat from Indian Point because prevailing winds would likely drive any plume of radiation right into the area.

Most nuclear plants in the nation hire private security guards to protect the facilities. NRC boosted requirements for these guards in 2003 but not to the point where they would be able to repel a dozen or more heavily armed, well-trained attackers, Musegaas said. The exact level of force, however, is classified. So it is impossible to say with certainty what requirements have been imposed.

In April, the General Accountability Office released a report that gave mixed reviews to nuclear power security. The report, requested by Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, found that since 2003 a number of concrete steps had been taken to buttress the plants against potential terrorist attacks.

It found that buffer zones had been augmented where possible, barriers thickened and detection equipment installed or upgraded.

Security forces were enlarged and armed with new weapons.

However, GAO said it was too early to claim victory since less than half of the 65 sites overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had undergone "force-on-force" exercises intended to test security.

Moreover, GAO found gaps in security at some of the sites inspected.

"The bottom line is, our nuclear security facilities are safer thanks to some security upgrades, but they are still not safe," said Shays, chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security. "I will continue to shine the spotlight on this issue until we feel certain nuclear facilities are capable of protecting their reactors from attack." The subcommittee has held five hearings on nuclear security since 2004.

Shays' Democratic opponent, Diane Farrell, has called for better emergency and evacuation planning for nuclear power plants. As Westport First Selectwoman, Farrell got the town to purchase potassium iodide tablets that are recommended as a prophylactic against exposure to cancer-causing radiation. Entergy points to a Department of Homeland Security comprehensive review that recognized nuclear plants as "the best-protected assets of our critical infrastructure," but acknowledged the value of enhancing the protection at these facilities.

"Despite new security provisions — including expanded disaster coordination, more extensive background checks on personnel and stronger criminal penalties for those involved in wrongdoing — I remain concerned that the state of nuclear power plant security is not at the level it should be five years after September 11," said Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. "I will continue to support efforts to ensure that security personnel are adequately trained, and that Americans living in close proximity to plants are fully protected."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., also believes stronger security is needed at nuclear power plants and in safeguarding nuclear material.

He has advocated that the NRC tighten its security regulations and has actively pursued efforts to get the Department of Homeland Security to develop effective screening systems for nuclear materials that could be used to make a dirty bomb, according to a spokeswoman.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, blamed the Bush administration for failing "to fully secure our nation's nuclear facilities." She pointed to GAO complaints, included in its latest report, that the energy industry had successfully pressured NRC to impose less stringent security standards on nuclear power plants than NRC staff had recommended.

Marvin Fertel, a senior vice president at Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade association, told Shays' subcommittee that the industry maintains "extremely high levels of security" at its facilities.

Fertel pointed out that nuclear power plants are massive structures with thick steel reinforced exterior walls and internal barriers of reinforced concrete built to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and floods. In addition, there are redundant safety systems, surveillance equipment and trained security forces present, he said. "The industry has invested more than $1.2 billion in security improvements at nuclear plant sites and has increased the number of specially trained, well-armed security forces by more than 60 percent," he said.

The NRC has also elevated nuclear facility security requirements on a number of occasions since Sept. 11, 2001, and is in the process of codifying additional requirements.

Nancy Burton, director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone and the Green Party candidate for Connecticut attorney general, said that Millstone remains vulnerable to terrorist attacks and worries that security systems are not functioning as advertised.

Burton said that a company whistleblower came forward to say that Dominion routinely disabled its perimeter system because it was overly sensitive to wind. Sham Mehta of East Lyme, has filed a complaint with the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control, claiming that he was fired after informing supervisors that company managers allowed operators to disable the electronic trespass system used to near Millstone's three reactors and spent-fuel pools.

Burton also complained that Millstone was vulnerable to a water-based attack. Dominion, she said, rejected an offer from the Department of Homeland Security to have a floating barrier installed around its massive water intakes similar to those that protect the nuclear submarines in Groton.

"If you drove a motorboat full of explosives into one of the operating intakes you could disable the pumps and there would inevitably be a nuclear meltdown," Burton said. "If you go to Millstone you'll see there is no barrier."

Lieberman had staff meet with DHS more than a year ago to discuss the barrier issue. DHS said it had offered the barrier as a technology demonstration project, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not

believe it was necessary. Dominion backed out and no similar barrier has been installed at any other nuclear power plant, according to a Lieberman spokeswoman.

Security concerns have also been raised about Indian Point.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., spoke at the National Press Club in May about energy policy and raised concerns about the potential for more nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels.

"We do have to take a serious look, but there remain very serious questions about nuclear power and our ability to manage it in a world with suicidal terrorists," she said. "I have real concerns, specifically about a plant in my state near where I live, Indian Point, which has had a number of problems."

Clinton and other members of the New York delegation have pressed the NRC to conduct a thorough, independent safety review of Indian Point.

###

Critics want nuclear fuel better protected
By GREG CLARY
gclary@lohud.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: September 8, 2006)

A group of Congressional representatives and environmentalists is calling for stronger regulation of spent nuclear fuel, saying the nation's 103 working nuclear plants remain vulnerable to attack.

"Nearly five years after Sept. 11, we know that terrorists are still plotting to attack this country," said Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Middletown.

"Just as we must take steps abroad to ensure that terrorists don't acquire nuclear weapons from rogue states," he said, "we must pay equal, if not more attention, to ensuring that our own nuclear material is not vulnerable to attack."

The group, including Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, and officials from Riverkeeper, called on President Bush and the Republican majority in Congress to heed warnings from the National Academy of Sciences that spent fuel at the nation's 103 working nuclear reactors is vulnerable.

The group wants the government to mandate that fuel be moved from water to dry storage casks that have been "hardened against terrorist attack."

"The federal government must better secure the spent fuel pools at Indian Point and all other nuclear power plants," said Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, who wasn't part of the group. She added that a greater Coast Guard presence is needed to protect facilities along navigable waterways.

Indian Point spokesman Jim Steets called the press conference at the U.S. Capitol a "publicity stunt," saying protection of the 2,500 spent fuel assemblies at the Buchanan site was upgraded after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"This is just a rehash of issues dealt with years ago, raised by people whose only interest is closing the plant, not securing it," Steets said. "The spent fuel pools are well-protected. They're largely underground, covered by 6-foot-thick concrete walls. We've increased the size of our security force and given them special training in weapons, as well as installed concrete vehicle barriers and greater monitoring."

He added that the company has begun plans to move spent fuel from storage pools to dry casks, which will be designed to withstand terrorist attacks.

Riverkeeper's president Alex Matthiessen said not enough has been done.

"The spent fuel at Indian Point is scarcely more secure than it was before 9/11 despite the fact that the New York metro area, with 20 million inhabitants, continues to be at the top of the terrorist target list," he said. "It is astonishing that five years after the worst terrorist attack in history, the federal government has not even taken the most obvious steps to secure our country's nuclear power plant infrastructure."

Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for NRC, said it was "highly inaccurate" to portray any spent fuel pools as unprotected.

"We have carefully assessed the security of spent fuel pools and dry cask storage facilities and found them to be safe," he said.

###

Indian Point 2 shuts for water tank problem
By GREG CLARY
gclary@lohud.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: August 24, 2006)

BUCHANAN — Workers shut down Indian Point 2 yesterday morning after problems developed with discharge valves in a 10,000-gallon tank of nonradioactive water.

Plant employees and the public were never at risk, and the 500-degree liquid never leaked, Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials said.

"We're trying to better understand the circumstances leading up to the (shutdown)," said Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman. "But workers followed the whole sequence properly. This is why they spend countless hours in the simulator. We're going to be taking a close look at this with our resident engineers."

Officials from Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns and operates the nuclear plants at the site, said that the 1,000-megawatt plant was stopped about 10:30 a.m. for the first time since its monthlong refueling ended in mid-May.

The outage did not affect Indian Point 3, which also generates about 1,000 megawatts.

Regulatory and company officials gave this account

About 10:15 a.m., workers noticed a problem with Indian Point 2's heater drain tank, which collects overflow reactor-heated water as it creates the steam that turns the huge turbines and generates electricity.

Sheehan said the discharge valves that control the levels of water in the tank were stuck on 55 percent capacity, apparently because of an electrical problem.

Workers initially reduced power output to 70 percent when a fluctuation in the reactor required a further reduction to 50 percent.

Workers were then forced to shut the plant down within 15 minutes.

Entergy officials said the plant will return to service after repairs are made in the next few days.

Larry Gottlieb, a spokesman for Indian Point, said the water monitoring system is the only way to determine how much liquid is in the closed tanks, and repairs could not take place while the plant was operating.

In the worst case, the tanks would have emptied and burned out their pumps, he said.

"This is not a big repair job," Gottlieb said. "Operators took conservative action to shut down the reactor."

Indian Point 3, which is newer than Indian Point 2, was shut down twice in July for electrical problems.

Indian Point 2's last unplanned shutdown was in late December, when a valve on one of the plant's four steam generators needed to be resealed.

NRC spokesman Sheehan said the problems do not appear to be be related.

###

Monitoring System Failure Shuts Down Indian Point

August 23, 2006

(CBS/AP) WHITE PLAINS An Indian Point nuclear power plant was shut down Wednesday after safety officials detected a problem with a drain monitoring system.

There was no release of radioactivity, plant spokesman Larry Gottlieb said.

The plant was to be down for a few days to fix the problem with the system, which captures drain water from heaters, that warm non-radioactive water, he said. No homes would be affected, he said.

Another plant at Indian Point was unaffected by the shutdown. The two nuclear plants are on the Hudson River about 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan.

Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, many residents of the lower Hudson Valley have called for the plants to be closed, but federal authorities have found them to be safe and the emergency precautions to be sufficient.

In early August, the 156 sirens designed to alert nearby residents of an emergency at the plants were out of service for more than six hours because of a computer malfunction.

###

Buchanan: Indian Point Sirens Fail

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: August 3, 2006

The 156 sirens meant to alert nearby residents of an emergency at the Indian Point nuclear power plants were out of service for more than six hours yesterday morning because of a computer malfunction, plant officials said. The sirens, which have a history of problems and are due to be replaced by next year, were out from 12:06 a.m. to 6:35 a.m., said Jim Steets, a spokesman for Indian Point's owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast. He said the malfunction was unrelated to the current heat and power problems. A computer program that continuously monitors the sirens failed, he said.

###

Indian Point sirens around were down for 6 hours

8/2/06 10:40 A.M.
CT NEWSTIMES

http://www.newstimeslive.com/news/story.php?id=1008604
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - The emergency sirens that are designed to alert
nearby residents of an emergency at the Indian Point nuclear power plants
were out of service for more than six hours Wednesday morning because of a
computer malfunction, officials said.

The sirens, which have a history of operating problems and are due to be
replaced by next year, were out from 12:06 a.m. to 6:35 a.m., said Jim
Steets, spokesman for Indian Point owner Entergy Nuclear Northeast.

He said the malfunction was unrelated to heat and power problems currently
plaguing the area. He said a computer program that continuously monitors
the sirens malfunctioned, making it impossible to activate them.

Had an emergency occurred at Indian Point during the outage, a backup plan
involving trucks with loudspeakers would have been implemented.

Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said NRC
inspectors would monitor Entergy's investigation of what caused Wednesday's problem.

###

Problems persist with emergency sirens at Indian Point
News 12 Westchester
(06/28/06) CORTLANDT - Repeated problems with the emergency siren system at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant continued Wednesday leaving county officials with little confidence in the system.

At least four times per year the 156 emergency sirens must be tested to ensure they work. The sirens are intended to warn the four counties surrounding the plant, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, and Westchester, if there was an actual emergency.

Officials at Entergy, the company that owns Indian Point, say preliminary testing indicated five sirens were not working and six others had broken sensors. Although Entergy officials say some of those sirens were known to be broken, the replacement of all 156 will continue. The work is expected to be completed by the end of January 2007.

###

Kelly pushes for House passage of Indian Point ISA legislation

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Copyright © 2006 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.

Congresswoman Sue Kelly Tuesday called for the prompt consideration and approval of legislation that she has co-introduced in Congress to require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to authorize an Independent Safety Assessment at Indian Point.

At the same time, members of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition were delivering petitions with 5,000 signatures to her Yorktown office, seeking her support for the bill. Group spokesman Mark Jacobs said it is important that Kelly and the other lawmakers in the region keep the heat on the issue so that an ISA is performed.

Kelly told her House colleagues that Indian Point “is an aging plant with a history of problems. An ISA is the best way to identify areas of weakness before they become serious issues."

After the NRC responded to Kelly's written request for an ISA by saying it could not commit to an ISA at Indian Point at this time, Kelly co-introduced legislation in March with Congressmen Hinchey, Engel, Lowey, and Shays that calls on the NRC to authorize an ISA at Indian Point.

Jacobs, meanwhile, said Kelly must drive her message home to her colleagues. “We need her to make public statements like that; statements in front of Congress like that, and we need her to make the political arrangements so that she can use her influence as a member of the majority party, as somebody who has a good relationship with our President, to make sure that independent inspections are completed.”

Kelly told the other House members that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “needs to put the safety of the residents of New York's Hudson Valley first."

###

Scientists says Indian Point power replaceable

By GREG CLARY
gclary@lohud.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: June 7, 2006)

WHITE PLAINS — Indian Point's 2,000 megawatts of electricity can be replaced by other forms of energy in the next decade, but alternatives would be difficult to put in place because of "political, regulatory, financial and institutional" obstacles, according to a new study.

The two nuclear plants in Buchanan combine to provide a little more than 10 percent of the state's power needs — about 17 million megawatt hours last year out of a total of 164 million megawatt hours.

The National Academy of Sciences 280-page report, funded with a $1 million federal grant secured three years ago by Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, says that no "insurmountable technological barriers" exist to replace the nuclear plants.

"(We) are less confident that government and financial mechanisms are in place to facilitate the timely implementation of alternatives," said Lawrence T. Papay, a consultant in La Jolla, Calif., and a member of the National Academy of Engineering who chaired the committee that wrote the report.

The report, conducted by the NAS's National Research Council for the Department of Energy, provided grist yesterday for both sides of the debate over whether Indian Point should be closed.

Indian Point 2 must be relicensed by 2013, and Indian Point 2 by 2015, or be shut down. Opponents for years have demanded that the licenses not be renewed. But their requests have become more strident since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Lowey, who wants to close Indian Point, said the report shows the nuclear plants in Buchanan aren't necessary for meeting future power needs, despite estimations of a growing need for electricity.

"A combination of strategies can replace the power produced by the plants and meet the state's growing energy needs," Lowey said at an outdoor news conference at Pace University.

Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, Indian Point's owner, said the report highlights how important the plants are to the region's power grid and to the future of clean air because fossil fuels aren't burned to create electricity.

"I don't think you can make a better case for Indian Point than the case that was made today," Steets said.

Steets cited Lowey's acknowledgement that electric rates could rise for the short run, the fact that Entergy pays $25 million in local taxes, and its ability to supply reliable energy now, rather than through a combination of still-to-be-sited alternative plants.

The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, an industry group, said the report shows "that in the real world of politics, our economy and our environment, it would be extremely difficult to replace this critical element of our energy infrastructure."

Indian Point supplies about 25 percent of the electricity delivered to the New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley. The study noted the need to develop reliable options as replacements.

Alex Matthiessen, president of the environmental group Riverkeeper, said the report has provided the answer to whether alternatives to nuclear power on the Hudson River are possible.

"The NAS study is the final and definitive answer to the debate," Matthiessen said. "Let's move on in order to assure that they appropriate processes are set in motion to bring about a prompt and orderly decommissioning of both reactors."

The report does not comment on the nuclear facility's vulnerability to attack or whether it should be closed.

The report and elected officials noted the need for strong leadership in Albany and Washington to accomplish what is needed in the seven years until Indian Point 2's license expires.

"Here is a chance for us to take constructive action," said Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx. "What we need now is the political leadership to ensure a smooth transition."

Lowey said if the governor or his successor decides that Indian Point can be replaced, it can happen by 2013.

Gov. George Pataki's office did not respond to a request for comment late yesterday.

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Faso said he wants to review the report, but supported the need for alternatives to be found.

"I think it's clear that the siting of the facility is problematic," Faso said. "At the same time, I think it's very, very important not to grandstand on an issue like this, but to look at all the factors and weigh all of those issues. It would be irresponsible to just consider closing it without all those alternatives."

A spokesman for New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the Democratic candidate for governor, said Spitzer has been supportive of closing Indian Point, provided that replacement power can be brought online.

"Today's report indicates that's a possibility," Mark Violette said.

###

Report on closing Indian Point released

By Greg Bruno
Times Herald-Record
gbruno@th-record.com

White Plains - Safe. Secure. Irrelevant? The Indian Point nuclear power plant may not be so vital after all.

The 2,000 megawatts of juice from Indian Point could be generated by non-radioactive fuels, though significant political and financial hurdles would impede shutdown of the Westchester County nuclear plant, a study released today concludes.

The findings, detailed in a report by the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that Entergy Nuclear Northeast's claim of a safe, secure and vital energy source at Indian Point may be overblown. The study was called for by Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison.

There are "no insurmountable technical barriers to the replacement of Indian Point's capacity, energy and ancillary services," the report said. While "significant financial, institutional, regulatory and political barriers" would have to be overcome, "the committee anticipates that a technically feasible replacement strategy for Indian Point could be achievable."

The closure of Indian Point, which sits on the banks of the Hudson River about 35-miles north of Midtown Manhattan, has been a serious political issue for the lower Hudson Valley since Sept. 11, 2001.

Opponents of the plant say it is vulnerable to terrorist attacks, a claim that plant officials vigorously refute. One of the hijacked planes flew by the plant on its way to New York City.

###

Report: No Tech Barrier in Replacing Indian Point

WASHINGTON -- Closing the Indian Point nuclear power plants would be costly and difficult, but it could be done if the state and power companies moved quickly and built big new facilities, a group of scientists said Tuesday.

A report by a National Academy of Sciences committee said there is no technological barrier to replacing the twin nuclear power plants on the banks of the Hudson River, but a host of financial and regulatory hurdles are in the way.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, many residents around the plants in Buchanan, N.Y., north of New York City, have worried they are at risk to radiation exposure if terrorists attacked Indian Point.

Federal regulators and the private company that runs Indian Point have repeatedly insisted the site is secure, but that has not stopped the criticism.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Westchester, who wants to close Indian Point, had sought a scientific review to determine how New York could do that and still have a reliable power supply. The committee's findings suggested the growing energy demands in the metropolitan area would make shutting down the reactors difficult.

"The committee has identified no insurmountable technological barriers to the replacement of Indian Point's capacity, energy and ancillary services, but significant financial, institutional, regulatory and political barriers also would have to be overcome to avoid threatening reliability,'' the group said in a 280-page report.

At a news conference in White Plains, N.Y., Lowey said the report's bottom line was, "We can meet the region's increasing energy demands without Indian Point.'' Speaking next to a poster showing energy-efficient air conditioners and fluorescent light bulbs, she said the goal could be accomplished with conservation, transmission improvements and ``modest new generation.''

The problem, the report argues, is that Indian Point now cranks out nearly one-quarter of the power consumed by the region encompassing New York City and its suburbs, and demand for power is growing fast.

"Even with the Indian Point units operational, New York state will require system reinforcements, above those already under construction, as soon as 2008 in order to meet its projected demand for electricity and maintain system reliability,'' the committee found.

The report, by design, took no position on whether Indian Point should be closed. Several members of the committee attended Lowey's news conference, but the chairman, Lawrence Papay of the National Academy of Engineering, said they were there to answer questions, not to support Lowey's position.

The committee warned that generating capacity in the New York City area may be outstripped by peak demand in as little as three years.

Indian Point is a 2,000 megawatt facility, and the state's power needs are expected to grow between 1,200 and 1,600 megawatts by 2010.

The experts also suggested public resistance, bureaucratic delay and market forces may slow the expansion of needed power plants until the demand reaches a crisis point.

"New generating capacity may not be available until reserves are dangerously low. Forestalling a crisis may require extraordinary efforts on the part of policy makers and regulators,'' the report said.

A spokesman for the plants' owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, praised the report, saying, "It's actually a good illustration of the value of the plant.''

"They not only point out the hurdles that would have to be overcome to close the plant, they point out the toxic gases, the contribution to global warming, seeing electricity costs rise,'' said spokesman Jim Steets.

The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, an industry group, said the report shows "that in the real world of politics, our economy and our environment it would be extremely difficult to replace this critical element of our energy infrastructure.''

The scientists envision two scenarios, one which would close Indian Point at the end of the decade, and one that would shut the two plants in 2013 and 2015.

The earlier closure "would be much more difficult to accomplish'' at a time when "New York will have very little if any excess capacity,'' they wrote.

The plants could be retired in 2013 and 2015 if New York ramped up its energy production by bringing 500 more megawatts to the system every year for a decade.

But replacing Indian Point wouldn't be cheap. Depending on who would pay for closing Indian Point, those extra costs could end up in residents' power bills.

A separate study commissioned last year by Westchester County concluded that Entergy should be offered up to $1.4 billion to voluntarily shut down Indian Point. Steets said Tuesday, "There certainly hasn't been any movement in that direction.''

Lowey said that amount would be "subject to negotiation.''

###

Downstate power needs can be met without Indian Point, study says

June 7 06 Mid Hudson News

A newly released study shows that a long term process of shutting Indian Point would be feasible despite possible high initial costs.

The National Academy of Sciences report released Tuesday showed that energy needs for Westchester County and the rest of the New York City region can be met without Indian Point, given the slack is picked up by New York City, and a dramatic reduction in consumer energy usage.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey said that a combination of newer energy alternatives, such as wind and coal power, and a decreased demand for electricity, will keep the cost of closing Indian Point and the regeneration of new energy means, reasonably lower.

“We can meet the region’s energy demand without Indian Point,” said the congresswoman. “Indian Point’s owner and supporters have long opposed calls for closure, claiming the plant is indispensable to our energy infrastructure,” she said. “The NAS report proves that it is simply not valid.”

Indian Point’s James Steets said the report was very comprehensive and well done. “Even the report acknowledges that Entergy has run the plant ‘extremely well,’ to use their words, so we understand how important this asset is and take very seriously our responsibility to operate the plant safely for the benefit of the area,” he said.

Lowey noted that New York has not done its duty to promote alternative fuel generation, that the closing of IP would be a great catalyst for a new energy campaign.

The study did not conclude any specific financial ramifications of the shutdown of Indian Point, but it did conclude that an accelerated process would be more harmful to the environment and more expensive to the taxpayers than a long term project.

The committee chairman, Lawrence Papay, recommended that the best timeframe to shut down the plant would be after their operating licenses expire in 2013 and 2015.

The 1 ½ year study cost roughly $1 million, monies secured by Lowey secured three years ago.

###

Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Report lists nuke plant alternatives
Data fuel debate on replacement of Indian Point



BUCHANAN, Westchester County — New power plants, more efficient transmission and energy conservation could replace Indian Point's power. But not without increasing air pollution and consumer costs — and not without unprecedented leadership from state officials, the nation's top scientific advisers determined.

The National Academies' National Research Council's report, "Alternatives to the Indian Point Energy Center for Meeting New York Electric Power Needs," was made public Tuesday.

The report was requested by Congress to address public concern about safety at the plant following the Sept. 11,2001, terrorist attacks, when one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center flew over the nuclear complex.

Changes in place by 2013

The power could be replaced by 2013 and 2015, when the federal licenses to operate the Westchester County plant's two active nuclear reactors expire. But it would require a long-term, integrated strategy that may include changes to state law and policies, including the Article X, power plant siting law.

The committee questioned whether there are enough financial incentives for companies to build new plants, given the price of energy and the complex plant siting and environmental protection laws in New York.

"There are no insurmountable technical barriers to replacing the energy lost by shutting down Indian Point, but we are less confident that government and financial mechanisms are in place to facilitate the timely implementation of alternatives," said Lawrence T. Papay, chairman of the committee that wrote the report.

Even if the plants were decommissioned, the perceived safety risk would remain. Spent nuclear fuel would likely remain at the Buchanan site for years.

Indian Point's 2,158 megawatts supply about a quarter of the New York City metro-area energy demand. By 2008, demand in that region is expected to increase by 500 megawatts — about the capacity of Dynegy's Danskammer power plant in Newburgh.

Higher energy demand

By 2010, the region's energy demand could increase by 1,200 megawatts or more. However, aggressive investments in existing and new programs to reduce energy demand — through conservation and other strategies —could reduce the load by almost that amount by 2010.

Jim Steets, spokesman for Indian Point, said the company agreed with the report's conclusions.

"It's kind of what we've been saying all along. Of course you can replace Indian Point. Conceivably, you can row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean, too," Steets said. "To me, it illustrates why it's so important why we continue to operate the plants responsibly."

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Westchester County, who is among the advocates calling for the plant's closure, downplayed the challenge of replacing the plant.

"I'm pleased to announce today that this authoritative study is complete," she said. "And the bottom line is this: we can meet the region's increasing energy demands without Indian Point."

Dan Shapley can be reached at dshapley@poughkeepsiejournal.com

###

May 31, 2006

The only thing 'green' about nuclear power is the cost
By Ed Haffmans

Touting nuclear power (New Green?" May 19) as an alternative to global warming and oil is shortsighted, greed-driven and wrong. When the fossil fuel consumption of the nuclear fuel cycle, including mining, refining, transport, plant construction, shielding, waste disposal, terrorism protection, and capacity factor over the life of the plant are considered, nuclear is a marginal net energy source and substantial greenhouse contributor. The only "green," apart from the glow when things go terribly wrong, is the money lining the pockets of former Greenpeace sell-out Patrick Moore and his ilk.

Pseudoenvironmentalist Moore, through his "Greenspirit Strategies Ltd.," is a paid corporate shill for a host of big-business anti-environment causes.

In the long run, a rethinking of our wasteful lifestyles and various forms of solar energy, which the United States receives more of in just one hour than our entire annual energy consumption, are our only options. Fossil fuels are merely stored solar energy. Uranium is also limited.

Any system that lives on savings while discarding income is doomed to extinction.

Solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal, tidal power, and radically improved efficiency remain trivial because our rulers prefer oil wars, nukes and corrupt cronies. Nuclear power has been subsidized to the tune of $150 billion since its inception, 30 times that of all renewables combined. It gets a free ride on insurance that would not be available on the free market. Yet the last nuclear plant built in the United States took 23 years to build and cost $8 billion. For that sum, 1KW grid tied to photovoltaic solar electric systems could be installed on nearly a million American homes, or 8,000 one-megawatt wind turbines could be built way more quickly. Money wasted on nuclear power is money not spent on safe, clean and truly carbon-free alternatives. Imagine if the $300 billion wasted so far on the Iraq oil war could have been spent on conservation and renewables.

Some European countries are getting 20 percent of their electricity from wind (Denmark), subsidizing biodiesel (Germany), requiring solar water heat on new construction (Spain), and outstripping us in all renewables. PV panels are terrorism proof, replace the energy of manufacture in 6-12 months of use, and last indefinitely.

It's time to replace the corrupt politicians who are shoving nukes and $3 gas down our throats with more folks like U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey and U.S. Senate candidate Jonathan Tasini, who back an Apollo-type program for homegrown terrorism-proof energy independence. And if Demublicans and Republicrats can't do it, maybe it's time to give the Green Party a chance.

Ed Haffmans lives in Accord.

http://www.recordonline.com/archive/2006/05/31/opinion-31views-05-31.html

###

Scientists list hurdles to replacing Indian Point

BY DEVLIN BARRETT
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON - Closing the Indian Point nuclear power plants would be costly and difficult, but it could be done if the state and power companies moved quickly and built big, new facilities, a group of scientists said yesterday.

A National Academy of Sciences committee said there is no technological barrier to replacing the Westchester nuclear power plants, but rather a host of financial and regulatory hurdles.

Since 9/11, residents around the plants in Buchanan have worried about terrorist attacks.

Federal regulators and the private company that runs Indian Point have repeatedly insisted the site is secure, but that has not stopped the criticism.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Westchester), who wants to close Indian Point, had sought the scientific review, which suggests the growing energy demands in the metropolitan area would make shutting down the reactors difficult.

"The committee has identified no insurmountable technological barriers to the replacement of Indian Point's capacity, energy and ancillary services, but significant financial, institutional, regulatory and political barriers also would have to be overcome to avoid threatening reliability," the group said in a report.

"We can meet the region's increasing energy demands without Indian Point," Lowey said.

The problem, the report argues, is that Indian Point now cranks out nearly a quarter of the power used in the metro area, with demand growing fast.

The report, by design, took no position on whether Indian Point should be closed.

The committee warned that generating capacity in the New York City area may be outstripped by peak demand in as little as three years.

Indian Point is a 2,000-megawatt facility, and the state's power needs are expected to grow by 1,200 to 1,600 megawatts by 2010.

The experts also suggested public resistance, bureaucratic delay and market forces may slow the expansion of needed power plants until the demand reaches a crisis point.

A spokesman for the plants' owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, praised the report, saying, "It's actually a good illustration of the value of the plant.

"They not only point out the hurdles that would have to be overcome to close the plant, they point out the toxic gases, the contribution to global warming, seeing electricity costs rise," said spokesman Jim Steets.

Originally published on June 7, 2006

###

Nuclear's not answer

The answer to global warming is not nuclear power, but sustainable energy.

It is suicide to think the solution to the energy crisis is nuclear. The truth is that the nuclear fuel cycle uses nearly as much fossil fuel as gas or coal plants. And the CFC gases it produces effectively destroy the ozone.

They still have not figured out how to dispose the lethal high-level radioactive waste. Today, we have more than 70,000 tons of spent fuel, leeching into the ground water, air and soil.

It is the only technology that produces waste so dangerous that governments must own and dispose of it. The selling of nuclear as green is a PR move by the nuclear industry to sell the U.S. on restarting nuclear proliferation.

Wake up, people. Nuclear power is the most deadly, dangerous, expensive way to create energy. The same subsidies/investments in efficiency and existing renewable technologies - solar, wind, geothermic - would give us far more electricity, quicker and with infinitely greater security and sustainability.

Susan Shapiro
Goshen

###

Why would Entergy object to review?

By Jeanne D. Shaw
Croton-on-Hudson
(Original Publication: May 22, 2006)

For years, Entergy has told us time after time after time that the Indian Point nuclear-power plants are "safe, secure and vital." If they are what they say they are, why would Entergy object to requests and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission refuse requests from elected officials in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives to have an independent safety assessment of Indian Point?

Over the past few years, headlines have shouted about the positive safety and operational ratings bestowed on Indian Point by the NRC. If these regulators are secure in the knowledge that they are providing adequate oversight, why wouldn't they want an independent source to verify that the public can have confidence in the operators and the overseers?

Perhaps it is because things are really not that good. There have been repeated unexpected outages at Indian Point, sirens that have failed numerous times, and radioactive water leaks from either one or multiple spent fuel pools. Can we be sure that all the problems and deficiencies in the plant have been identified and are being addressed? It is more than eight months since radioactive contamination was found in groundwater, and there is still no definitive evidence that all the sources have been found and there is still no resolution to the problem.

If "safe, secure and vital" is something more than empty words, Entergy and the NRC should be glad to have other knowledgeable sources verify their fine reviews. Wouldn't you be glad, too?

###

Rockland lawmakers demand nuclear power industry reimbursements

Mid Hudson News, May 19, 2006

Rockland County Legislator David Fried, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, urged state leaders to approve legislation that would require licensed nuclear generating plants, such as Indian Point, to fully reimburse counties like Rockland for costs incurred as a result of operating those plants.

The New City lawmaker was invited to speak as part of a panel in Albany on Wednesday.

“Rockland taxpayers are confronted with the high costs of housing a nuclear facility in the shadows of our county,” Fried said. “The nuclear industry should cover these expenses – not the hardworking women and men of Rockland County. These commercial burdens shouldn’t be carried by our taxpayers.”

Nuclear generating facilities licensed by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission are not required to pay for the development and maintenance of radiological emergency preparedness by government entities. Currently, the taxpayer incurs all these costs, while the industry that directly profits from nuclear facilities, are not required to incur any of the costs.

Fried cited data he received from the Rockland County Office of Fire and Emergency Services indicating that office incurs approximately $340,000 in annual expenses as a result of the plant being close to Rockland’s borders. “The data I have been given by Emergency Services barely scratches the surface of the true costs our communities incur as a result of the Indian Point nuclear plant,” he said. “School reception centers, communication upgrades, hospital and health preparations, first responder readiness, and social service initiatives all add up to a significant fiscal impact on local budgets.”

Fried announced that he has introduced legislation at the county level in support of state legislation authored to reimburse counties for expenses they incur as a result of radiological preparedness. 

###

Standing over a nuclear reactor

By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: May 19, 2006)
Creating nuclear energy

• Nuclear reactors basically are machines that contain and control chain reactions, while releasing heat at a controlled rate.


• Nuclear power accounts for about 20 percent of the total electricity generated in the United States, about as much as that used in California,Texas and New York, the three most populous states.

• It comes from the nucleus (core) of an atom, tiny particles that make up every object in the universe and require enormous energy to be held together.

• When the atoms are split into smaller atoms (nuclear fission), they release energy that can then be used for other purposes, such as heating water to create steam that turns electricity-generating turbines.

• The fuel most widely used by nuclear plants for fission comes from uranium, a nonrenewable metal found in rocks all over the world. Once uranium is mined, it is processed into U-235, because its atoms are easily split apart.

• During nuclear fission, a small particle called a neutron hits the uranium atom, causing it to split and release a great amount of energy as heat and radiation. More neutrons also are released, creating a chain reaction.

• The uranium fuel is formed into ceramic pellets, each about the size of a fingertip. Each one produces the same amount of energy as 150 gallons of oil. These energy-rich pellets are stacked end-to-end in 12-foot metal fuel rods. A bundle of fuel rods is called a fuel assembly.

• Fission generates heat in a reactor just as burning coal does in a boiler, turning water into steam. The steam pressure turns huge turbine blades, which in turn drive generators that make electricity. Afterward, the steam is changed back into water and cooled in a separate structure at the power plant called a cooling tower. The water is then recycled.

• Like all industrial processes, nuclear power generation has by-product wastes: radioactive waste and heat.

• Radioactive wastes are the principal environmental concern for nuclear power. The irradiated fuel assemblies are highly radioactive and must be stored in specially designed tanks resembling large swimming pools (water cools the fuel and acts as a radiation shield) or in specially designed dry storage containers. Most nuclear fuel is stored underwater.

• The United States Department of Energy's long-range plan is for this spent fuel to be stored deep in the earth in a geologic repository, at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

Source: The U.S. Energy Information Administration, a division of the Department of Energy.

Buchanan — Mark Fitzgerald gently guided a gleaming nuclear fuel container into a 40-foot-deep pool, one of the first steps to turn its uranium pellets into 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

"That's the last time that thing will see the air," said Daniel Darby, a worker wiping the nearby floors with a special mop that helps safety inspectors track radioactive contamination.

Refueling has become an annual rite of spring here, shutting down one of the two nuclear plants at Indian Point. Officials at Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point, say it's not unusual to invest more than $25 million during the operation — not counting the cost of new uranium.

Indian Point 2 is expected to go back online this weekend after it was shut down April 19 for the refueling. During the downtime, a Journal News reporter and photographer spent a day observing the refueling at the heart of the nuclear reactor, under a 200-foot-high concrete containment silo that has become the industry's most recognizable image.

This is the place where nuclear fission splits uranium atoms, creating temperatures of nearly 550 degrees Fahrenheit to produce steam powerful enough to turn giant turbines. The resulting 1,000 megawatts will power the equivalent of a million homes.

What a visitor notices first about the refueling operation is the size of everything — the bolts that secure the 433-ton, 44-foot-deep reactor vessel are man-size, with heads that no homeowner with an ordinary pipe wrench would dream of tackling.

The reactor has to be big because by the time it's full, it will hold 193 fuel assemblies — with nearly 10 million uranium pellets that cost about $200 million.

The door to the equipment hatch that allows bigger items in and out of the containment building looks like it came off an aircraft carrier and must be moved into place by an ever-present crane running on a circular track a few feet inside the round building's 4-foot-thick walls.

Even the work force is big during refueling, swelling to about 2,400, nearly twice the 1,300 workers normally on site.

The most compelling sight in the containment building is the nuclear reactor itself.

Not readily visible under the 40 feet of water used to shield workers from radiation, the reactor retains an element of danger that keeps the uninitiated looking over their shoulders, regardless of where they are.

The reactor core sits in the cavity, looking much like a 15-foot-diameter drain in some huge industrial sink.

This year, as in years past, the reactor doesn't get its 92 new fuel assemblies until the 193 units in the core are removed for inspections and maintenance.

One by one, the zirconium-encased fuel assemblies are brought out on a flat, underwater railroad car through a 27-foot-long canal connecting the reactor cavity to the spent fuel pool.

A computer-controlled platform the size of a small stage spans the cavity, moving back and forth from the core to the canal.

There, workers lay the assemblies down with pulleys, sending them through the canal where they are picked up by identical machinery.

Lifted into a vertical position, but still underwater, the used assemblies give off a shimmering blue light, like high-powered light sticks in a backyard swimming pool.

There are about 2,000 10-inch-by-10-inch slots in the fuel storage pool, each with a specific, computerized location that holds the 12-foot-long bundles of nuclear rods and their encased uranium pellets.

The used fuel comes out in three categories: 2-, 4- and 6-year-old assemblies. The oldest group will remain behind in the 400,000-gallon cooling tank for holding spent fuel.

It's the same tank that has been at the center of a leak investigation since August, when the presence of radiated water outside the pool led the company to spend millions to figure out where it was traveling under the site.

High levels of tritium and strontium 90 have turned up during the investigation, and the company is planning more monitoring and says it will take any necessary corrective actions.

Because of the potential for atomic reactions continuing in the pool, putting the oldest in the nuclear equivalent of the attic won't work — the newer must be interspersed with the older. The weaker assemblies act as a brake on further fission during storage.

New fuel assemblies lie along a wall not far from the storage pool, like shiny miniature skyscrapers. Not yet emitting any radioactivity, they arrived on a flatbed truck weeks earlier from a Westinghouse plant in South Carolina.

Weighing about a half-ton each, they're eased over to the pool with a crane into workers' waiting hands and placed in slots.

The new fuel will be mixed in with the strongest of the old fuel, and then put back in the reactor.

Emptying the reactor completely before refueling allows a great deal of work to be done in and around it during the shutdown.

While the reactor is cooled down, crews also go to work replacing huge transformers, cleaning and repairing turbine fins and upgrading vital electronic wiring and machinery. And they replace old uranium-237 pellets with new ones containing the power to produce half the electricity Entergy sells via the region's power grid.

But even a nonworking, empty reactor gives off radiation that must be carefully managed.

Indian Point workers were reminded of that midway through this year's shutdown when a crane operator working above the reactor was exposed to radiation levels nearly 60 percent higher than what was planned for his task. The exposure set off a company investigation.

The levels were low enough that the man suffered no health effects, but unplanned exposures like that raise supervisors' heart rates and regulators' concerns.

That's why everything is planned during an outage, even down to the amount of radiation that is acceptable for each person's daily duties.

Workers move quickly throughout the refueling operation, part of a scripted set of instructions that one veteran nuclear expert likened to a football coach planning as many plays in advance as possible but adapting as needed as the game goes on.

"Almost every minute in an outage is choreographed," said David Lochbaum, the nuclear safety project director for the Union of Concerned Scientists and a veteran of many refuelings. "There are so many temporary workers, there are opportunities for mistakes, but those are the exceptions. These companies only make money when the reactor's running, and they want to keep outages as short as possible."

Lochbaum said that the workers, though temporary, usually are very experienced. They are basically nuclear-industry gypsies who live out of suitcases and work the overtime that is a way of life for refuelings. They can make a six-figure annual income working nine months of the year because the load is so intense.

"Everybody works 12 hours a day, six days a week during the outage," said Jim Steets, an Entergy spokesman. "There's a tremendous amount of work that gets done in a short time."

###

Nuclear facility needs assessment 

The Journal News (Original publication: May 17, 2006)

The Indian Point nuclear power plant site has one of the worst safety records of any nuclear facility in the United States. For the last several years, Indian Point has been leaking radioactive water. Can owner Entergy Nuclear Northeast really tell us how much material is leaking, how long it has been going on, where the radioactive material is going or even how many leaks there are?

Sen. Hillary Clinton asked both Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an independent safety assessment of Indian Point. This is the same type of independent safety assessment that was run on another nuclear plant — Maine Yankee — that was subsequently shut down. Both Entergy and the NRC said no to the request for an independent safety assessment at Indian Point. It's clear why: Profits over safety. Sen. Clinton, Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, and others have introduced bills in Congress that would mandate Indian Point undergo an independent safety assessment. We, who live in the danger zone, deserve no less.

Glenn Rickles, Croton-on-Hudson
 

http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060517/OPINION02/605170340

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NY State comptroller demands major inspection of Indian Point

By JIM FITZGERALD
Associated Press Writer

May 3, 2006, 6:28 PM EDT

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, pointedly noting that he oversees $58 million of company stock, has asked Entergy Corp. to join the call for a major safety inspection of its Indian Point nuclear power plants.

In a letter to Entergy Chairman Robert Luft, Hevesi said an independent safety assessment conducted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would be "in Entergy's best interest financially, and for the long-term value of the Indian Point asset."

"The sooner this occurs, the better for shareholders and the public," he told Luft in the April 26 letter, reminding him that the New York State Common Retirement Fund, "of which I am sole trustee," holds 847,728 shares of Entergy.

In a second letter, Hevesi urged the NRC to order the independent safety assessment, which the commission has refused to do. The NRC says a less comprehensive inspection scheduled for next year, combined with current oversight, is more appropriate for Indian Point.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and other members of Congress disagree and have resorted to legislation to try to impose the more comprehensive inspection, which was last done at the Maine Yankee plant in 1996 and took three months. The inspections planned for Indian Point would take seven weeks for each of its two reactors, said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.

Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the nuclear plants at Indian Point, 35 miles north of New York City, have come under heavy scrutiny and criticism. However, attempts to shut them down have met with federal assurances that they are safe and that emergency evacuation plans are adequate.

Both types of inspections being discussed would address onsite concerns only, not the evacuation plans, Sheehan said.

Indian Point has encountered various problems in recent months including malfunctioning emergency sirens and a leak of radioactive isotopes into the groundwater. Entergy has agreed to replace the sirens and is searching for the cause and scope of the leak.

Clinton requested the independent safety assessment in March, but NRC Chairman Nils Diaz said it was not warranted. In a letter to the senator, Diaz said extensive inspections are scheduled for next year and both Indian Point plants and "the current increased level of oversight at Indian Point is appropriate."

Clinton, however, wrote back that she was introducing a Senate bill to require the independent safety assessment. Local Reps. Sue Kelly, a Republican, and Democrats Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel sponsored a similar bill in the House in February.

Entergy spokesman Jim Steets on Wednesday said company officials were still reviewing Hevesi's letter and could not comment, but he added, "Whatever is decided in the end, we will support the NRC's efforts."

Hevesi spokesman Jeffrey Gordon said the comptroller's office often mentions the state's stock holdings in its dealings with companies, "telling them we have an interest in how the company runs."

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

###

Not reassured about Indian Point

By GARY SHAW
(Original Publication: May 1, 2006)

After reading the April 23 Community View — "Public can rest assured by Indian Point," by Jim Knubel, former chief nuclear officer for the New York Power Authority, previous owner of Indian Point 3 — I can only wonder how many times I have read or heard an Entergy spokesperson, either current or retired, assure us that something that nobody expected to happen, that did happen, is not a problem worth being concerned about.

In this case it is the ongoing leak or leaks of proven carcinogenic elements like strontium 90 that have seeped from the spent-fuel pool at Indian Point 2, at least since last August. No one knows if there is only one leak or multiple leaks because after more than eight months, the source is still unknown. At a Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting a few weeks ago, it was actually revealed that this is not just a leak, but that this contaminated water had to have pooled under the plant in order to then migrate toward and into the Hudson. Nobody knows how deep the pool is, so nobody knows exactly how much irradiated water is in the pool.

That is not reassuring to me. It is also not reassuring to see numbers with a lot of decimal places to tell us that the amount of carcinogen being discharged into the environment is very small. I don't understand numbers that well, but I know that the levels of SR-90 discovered in test wells were three times the limit allowed for drinking water under Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Perhaps that is why this industrial pollution was not reported to the EPA.

Since as far as anyone knows at this time, the water is not going directly into a known drinking-water source, it is being positioned as just another minor annoyance. Perhaps the writer isn't aware of the 2005 report from the National Academy of Sciences that says that no exposure to ionizing radiation can be considered harmless because, even at low levels, exposure to radioactive materials can cause DNA damage and lead to a higher likelihood of cancer. At the NRC meeting, the NRC regional director said that he knew of the report and agreed with its conclusions.

Maybe the writer also doesn't know that children are particularly susceptible to damage from industrial toxins. A recent report from the Radiation and Public Health Project, which has collected more than 230 baby teeth from children in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland, found a higher level of strontium 90 in the teeth of children living closer to Indian Point.

Indian Point is an aging piece of machinery. As in any piece of aging machinery, problems that no one anticipated occur. In this case, the problem can result in radioactive contamination in the most densely populated area of our country. The former NRC regional director told me so at a public meeting a couple of years ago. In response to a specific question, he said that no one could guarantee that any nuclear plant would not have a radiation release.

Soon, Indian Point will have to file for a 20-year extension of its operating license. It is not at all reassuring that the NRC said that its re-licensing standards do not consider that Indian Point could not be built at that site today because of population density or that the Indian Point evacuation plan has been judged unworkable by James Lee Witt, former Federal Emergency Management Agency head, but approved by Michael Brown. At the recent meeting, the NRC also said that the ongoing leak of radioactive materials would likely not be considered as a factor in the re-licensing procedure.

This does not make sense to me, and I am not reassured.

###

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/28/opinion/l28nuclear.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

To the Editor:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports 200 incidents since 1986 where reactors have come close to a meltdown, making the risk greater than 1 in 1,000. Nor is Excelon the only company that is mismanaging nuclear power plants.

Only 35 miles from New York City , Entergy manages the Indian Point reactors, where leaks of strontium, plutonium and tritium from an irradiated fuel tank are seeping into the groundwater and drinking wells and inching toward the Hudson River .

In fact, we are at greater risk today. Aging plants are emitting radioactivity into communities. Irradiated fuel accumulates at reactors with no rational storage solution, increasing the potential for theft by those seeking to produce nuclear weapons.

Further, Indian Point was mentioned as a target in the documents of Al Qaeda.

Most important, financing nuclear power would divert scarce resources from investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The enormous costs for nuclear power per unit of carbon emissions avoided, compared with sun and wind, would worsen climate change by buying less solution per dollar.

Alice Slater

New York , April 26, 2006

The writer is president of the Grace Policy Institute, a division of the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment

 

###

April 14, 2006         

Deaf couple worries: We can't hear sirens
Indian Point: How would deaf know?


By Greg Bruno
Times Herald-Record

Harriman - John and Andrea DeBold can check the weather on their pagers
and send e-mail by minicomputer. Their door chimes with flashing lights. Closed captions scroll across their TV.

But for all the gadgets that bring normalcy to this deaf Orange County couple, one remains frustratingly elusive: an Indian Point warning system.

"What if I'm sleeping?" Andrea DeBold wondered last week, speaking American Sign Language through an interpreter. "What if I'm taking a nap? I wouldn't know anything was happening" if the Indian Point nuclear power plant blew its top.

For the audibly engaged in the lower Hudson Valley, news of nuclear disaster would first come by way of siren. There's one not far from the DeBolds' Harriman home, near the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets on Route 17.

But for hundreds of hard-of-hearing residents like the DeBolds, a radiological release at Indian Point would fall on deaf ears. "The barriers if you are deaf are endless. It's
an invisible disability," said Cheri Donato, advocacy services manager at Independent Living in Newburgh.

Critics of the Westchester County facility have long questioned the feasibility of a large-scale evacuation. But seldom have challenges to the region's deaf been big
news. And that worries the forgotten.  "It's scary," said Andrea DeBold, 52. "I can't hear a thing."

In case of a nuclear emergency, officials in four counties surrounding the plant - Orange, Rockland, Putnam and Westchester - would trip 156 sirens, notifying those who can hear to turn on a radio or television for further instructions.

Then, if an evacuation were ordered, emergency planners would clear
residents from inside a 10-mile ring around the plant. Those in need of special assistance could get a personal knock on the door.

But the DeBolds wouldn't be so lucky.  Because they live just a few hundred feet west of the 10-mile mark, no one would come for them.   Steve Gross, an Orange County spokesman, explained the county's duty this way: "I wouldn't say they  are out of luck, but we've determined the zone is the area of concern. We stick to the federal
guidelines."

Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point, is equally noncommittal. "It is ultimately the county's responsibility to notify the public," company spokesman
Jim Steets said.

A new Indian Point alerting system being planned for later this year will enable counties surrounding Indian Point to install a text messaging component. Orange and Putnam officials said they hope to go online within the next few years. Rockland and Westchester are already there.

But the DeBolds might not be around long enough to enjoy the peace of
mind. After three decades on Eden Road, they're thinking about selling their home. Taxes are the real reason, they say, but getting away from a nuclear danger zone also has its perks.

If you would need assistance during an Indian Point emergency, register
with your county emergency planning department. In Orange County, call 800-942-7136.
  _____ 

Copyright Orange County Publications, a division of Ottaway Newspapers Inc., all rights reserved.

###

Letter to the Editor

In Monday's article, "Nation taking harder look at nuclear leaks," Mr. Clary and Mr. Golding leave out some of the striking revelations regarding the leaking at Indian Point which became public at the NRC meeting on March 28. The NRC made it clear that there is not one leak, but at least two and possibly more leaks. In addition, the leaking has been so extensive that there is a collection of underground radioactive water of at least a few hundred feet by a few hundred feet. How deep is it? Neither the NRC nor Entergy admit to having any idea. But, if this is only 1 inch deep, that means there is over 27,000 gallons of radioactive water in that one area, and if the radioactive water is a foot deep, that means there are over 300,000 gallons. And so, what we now have at Indian Point is an undetermined number of leaks coming from undetermined locations in undetermined amounts going to undetermined other locations. How can Entergy continue to provide false assurances with so little information?

Once Indian Point is closed, we will all be able to rest assured that our health and safety and that of our children is no longer at risk from this degrading nuclear plant.

Mark Jacobs

###

Nation taking harder look at nuclear leaks

By GREG CLARY AND BRUCE GOLDING
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: April 10, 2006)



What is tritium?

Tritium is a radioactive isotope, or atomic form, of hydrogen that is produced naturally in the upper atmosphere and can be found as a gas, but most commonly occurs in water, which is formed when tritium is exposed to oxygen. It also is produced during nuclear weapons' explosions and in reactors.



What is strontium 90?

Strontium 90 is an artificially produced radioactive isotope of strontium, a naturally occurring, soft, silvery metal that rapidly turns yellowish in air. Strontium 90 is a byproduct of nuclear fission in weapons and reactors and has been linked to bone cancer and leukemia. Strontium 90 moves easily through the environment and takes more than 29 years to lose half its radioactivity.

Radioactive isotopes leaking at Indian Point and four other nuclear plants across the nation could signal a new wave of environmental troubles for an industry relying on plants built as far back as the late 1950s.

"There are likely two dozen (plants), maybe more," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The tritium leaks that were found were by happenstance. There's no reason to believe that that's an unabridged listing of plants that have had or are having leaks."

About 20 anti-nuclear groups are petitioning federal regulators to ensure that the operators of the nation's 103 working nuclear plants accurately assess the potential for tritium and other radioactive isotope leaks and come up with strategies to prevent them.

Indian Point joined the list of leaks in August, when workers found a hairline crack at the base of a spent-fuel pool that holds 400,000 gallons of radioactive water, some of which has since migrated 300 feet to the Hudson River.

Soon after, the more dangerous isotope strontium 90 showed up in groundwater under Indian Point in concentrations three times federal drinking water limits — also apparently reaching the Hudson.

Regulators and company health physicists say there is no danger to humans because the water isn't reaching drinking water sources, and tritium can be released into the river at permitted levels.

Entergy officials have dug 23 wells to pinpoint the extent of the leak and are looking at the 10 other plants they operate for leaks.

Since the discovery at Indian Point, two more nuclear plants were found to be leaking tritium, the most recent just last month at Palo Verde, about 35 miles outside Phoenix.

Adrian Heymer, senior director of new plant deployment for the Nuclear Energy Institute, which decides policy for the industry, said "time will tell" if tritium leaks will develop elsewhere.

"Several plants have had a problem; it's natural to expect others. How many, I don't know," he said.

Ralph Andersen, the group's chief health physicist, said he did not believe there was a common cause behind the leaks.

"I've heard it said that it's a function of aging plants, but when I look at the specific plants, it's more a function of how the plant was operated," he said. "There isn't as much similarity as there may seem at first blush."

Andersen also said he was skeptical of suggestions that tritium itself was to blame by making plant components more brittle and likely to fail. He said the amounts of tritium in the plants' water were likely too small and the exposure too limited for it to have any significant effect.

A task force of safety experts is developing steps for plant operators to check for tritium leakage and correct any problems; the recommendations will likely be acted upon at an April 13 meeting of industry executives, Andersen said.

Heymer also said that anticipated changes in design and construction — such as reformulated concrete and plastic lining in pipes — would likely prevent tritium leaks at new plants.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission launched its own task force last month after tritium leaks showed up at three locations within six months, adding to more extensive problems that had been discovered at Braidwood in Joliet, Ill. A report is due by the end of August.

Stuart Richards, the commission's official leading the task force, said the agency continues to believe the health impacts of tritium are minimal, although regulators and industry leaders acknowledge that public perception is a legitimate concern.

"We're going to take a look at this issue in a broad manner and identify gaps, additional actions that perhaps we should take," Richards said. If the agency had more extensive monitoring programs, more leaks "would likely come to light," he said.

Richards said the task force would look at tritium in the context of whether leaks contained within the borders of a nuclear plant would factor into the relicensing issue. Indian Point's two operating licenses are due to expire in 2013 and 2015, and opponents have been critical of what they say is a process weighted in favor of the plants' continued operation.

Industry watchdogs want a more rigorous accounting from the operators about potential sources of tritium, a detailing of the methods used to monitor possible leaks, and assurances that radioactive material hasn't reached surrounding property. They also want better reporting to neighbors and local officials.

Lochbaum said there also has to be clearer proof that tritium isn't a significant health risk.

The petitioners cited a recent letter from three physicians to Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, noting a 43 percent increase in leukemia rates in the 1990s within 15 miles of the state's largest leak — at the Braidwood location.

"The authors didn't tie this increase to the plants, nor do we," Lochbaum told commission officials last week. "Our concern is with the uncertainty of what's happening where; this kind of stuff can't be taken off the table."

Richards said the impact of tritium exposure is minimal, as far as the commission can determine. He said exposure calculations show that a person drinking 2 liters per day of water with allowable limits of tritium would need a year to be exposed to the radiation that cosmic rays provide on one flight from Los Angeles to New York.

Regardless of how the health questions will be answered, radioactive leaks raise concerns among the public.

In much of their discussion about the potential impacts of tritium on community, the watchdogs point to what happened at Braidwood.

In Illinois, tritium has been found in groundwater at three plants: Braidwood, Byron and Dresden, home to the nation's first privately owned nuclear-power operation. All are owned by the Exelon Corp., which also owns seven other nuclear plants in Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Three Mile Island.

The widest contamination is at Braidwood, where millions of gallons of tritium-tainted water started leaking in 1996 but wasn't disclosed publicly until late last year, after low levels were found in a nearby residential well. Exelon has blamed faulty valves on a 5-mile underground pipe that carries cooling water to the Kankakee River.

As recently as Thursday, a steam leak there left 500 gallons of tritiated water pooled on the grounds.

Braidwood village resident Paul Anderson, a former Merchant Marine officer who lives with his wife in a townhouse about two miles north of the plant, said he was very concerned about the leaks and was now using bottled water for drinking and cooking.

"We never thought or suspected that these plants would have a problem," Anderson said. "Somebody should be doing time for this; that's the way I look at it."

The Illinois attorney general and the Wills County state's attorney sued last month over the undisclosed Braidwood leaks.

Craig Nesbit, a spokesman for Exelon Corp., said the company planned a cleanup.

"We're going to scour our plants and scrub them from top to bottom, determine every piece of equipment that handles tritium, and make sure that it's in absolutely top shape," Nesbit said.

Closer to home, Indian Point officials note that the strontium and tritium leaks there have made company officials evaluate their other facilities. Indian Point's parent company, Entergy, which owns 10 reactors and operates another for the state of Nebraska, has begun looking at its other locations for potential tritium leaks.

"We have a specific, comprehensive, fleetwide plan for assessing current groundwater monitoring and surveillance programs at each site," Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said. "That grew out of what has happened at Indian Point."

###

Lawmakers don't like nuke review plans, will push for more

By GREG CLARY
gclary@lohud.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: April 5, 2006)

A federal regulator's promise to conduct an in-depth review of Indian Point falls short of what Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and other lawmakers want, so they will continue pushing for a more comprehensive evaluation.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Nils Diaz told Clinton at a Senate hearing last month that the agency would conduct a "thorough, independent review" of the nuclear plants.

In a recent letter to Clinton, he outlined the details of that review, which includes separate seven-week inspections of Indian Point 2 and 3 next year. Diaz said a more in-depth review is not warranted.

Indian Point has had problems in the past year from emergency siren network failure and plant shutdowns to the discovery of tritium and strontium 90, two radioactive isotopes leaking underneath the Buchanan site.

Clinton, D-N.Y., disagreed with Diaz in a letter she sent him, released yesterday by her office.

"In my view the engineering safety assessment you have proposed is a step forward, but it does not fully address the range of concerns that prompted the calls for an (independent safety assessment)," Clinton wrote, adding that she is introducing a Senate bill that would require that, as detailed in similar legislation already under consideration by the House of Representatives.

Those involved in the House bill welcomed Clinton's help.

"I'm pleased that Sen. Clinton will be carrying our bill in the Senate," said Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, who joined with Democrats Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel and Maurice Hinchey last month in sponsoring the bill. "A more prompt and more thorough inspection of the plant than what the NRC is proposing will better assure safe operations."

Neil Sheehan of the commission said his agency had committed to 700 extra hours of inspection for each reactor and state agencies are welcome to observe or participate in the inspection.

"We intend to perform separate engineering team inspections at Indian Point 2 and 3 next year," Sheehan said. "We will also continue to devote considerable time and effort to emergency planning."

Indian Point officials said the company would let regulators and lawmakers sort out what would be required of the plants' owners.

"Whatever is ultimately decided, we're prepared to meet or exceed our regulatory obligations," Indian Point spokesman Jim Steets said.

###

Radioactive Pools – not leaks

By ABBY LUBY

Record Review

03-30-06 

Radioactive water leaking at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant is collecting beneath the plant in an area that is larger than 1000 square feet. Don Mayer of plant-owner Entergy and John White of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told a skeptical and antagonistic crowd of about 450 people on Tuesday that some of the collections of water were high in tritium content. 

“The pools are about the size of the transformer yard  which is a couple 100 feet by a couple of 100 feet,” said Mr. Mayer, director of special projects for the Buchanan plant. The special public meeting with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Environmental Conservation and Entergy at the Crystal Bay Restaurant in Peekskill was held in response to the rising concerns about radioactive leaks from the 40-foot-deep spent fuel pools containing over 1,000 tons of extremely high radioactive fuel. 

Mr. Mayer explained that the leaking radioactive water was collecting and migrating someplace else. “The water is quite simply going to the Hudson River,” he said. “It is going underneath and near the discharge canal and then into the discharge canal.”  The discharge canal empties radioactive effluent from the plant into the Hudson River where the plant is based. 

Since August, officials at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plants have been trying to find the source of tritium-laced water leaking from Indian Point Unit 2 fuel pool. Last week water sampled at a well less that 150 feet from the Hudson River showed strontium-90 at three times the amount allowed in drinking water. Strontium-90 is a dangerous radioactive isotope that increases the risk of cancer. 

“Neither I nor the employees at the Indian Point Energy Center find the current conditions that we are  dealing with to be acceptable,” said Fred Dacimo, executive vice president of the plant. “They are not acceptable and they need to be resolved.”

After brief applause he said “We will pull out all the stops to find where these  leaks are occurring and we will fix  these leaks.” 

Local officials at the meeting who were  met with applause included  Westchester County Board of Legislator Michael Kaplowitz (Somers), Putnam County Legislator Vincent Tamagna, (R-Philipstown) and Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi. Representatives from Senator Clinton’s office and Congresswoman Nita Lowey got applause, but the aide from Congresswoman Sue Kelly’s office was greeted with heckling “boos.” 

Mr. Kaplowitz asked for an independent investigation claiming that the assessment reports were produced by the very entity that holds most at stake. “What we have is a lack of trust,” he said. “What’s missing is the independent element.  We are asking the NRC to get involved and become the quarterback for  the investigations.  You are our regulators, please play your regulatory role. With that comes credibility and trust.” 

Four weeks ago House representatives from New York including Maurice Hinchey,  Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, and Sue Kelly introduced legislation that would require the NRC to conduct an Independent Safety Assessment of Indian Point.  If passed into law, it would give the NRC six months to report on the safety of Indian Point. 

Members of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC), a grass roots group of over 70 organizations pledged to close the plant, sat in the audience dressed in ‘Sherlock Holmes’ type caps an held  magnifying glasses.  Co-founder of IPSEC Mark Jacobs said  “Look around the audience, NRC and you see some people with hats on and magnifying glasses. These are actually independent inspectors. The NRC is not  or will ever  be independent.” 

Manna-Jo Greene from Hudson River Clearwater asked what Entergy was physically doing about the leaks of radioactive water.  Mr. Mayer said that the spent fuel pool for unit one was undergoing a process of de-mineralizing.

“We are also providing charcoal absorption for the PCB’s in unit 1 and de-mineralizing  the effluence,” he said. “On the rest of the site  we are developing plans  on how we could  create a pumping situation and pull the  water back and minimizing the water going into the river.” 

Finding the actual leaks in unit two’s spent fuel pool has proved difficult. In September Entergy hired special divers to go into the pool to find the leak but they were unable to  inspect hard-to-reach places. “We had divers and remote video cameras employed  to inspect areas of the pool,” said Mr. Mayer. “But what we need are special robotic cameras to look underneath the spent fuel pool rack. We have hired a new vender that uses small cameras and we will see what we could find.”

 Entergy hired hydrologist  Matt Barvenik, Senior Vice President of GZA  - GeoEnvironmental, Inc. of Boston,  presented visual information about the type of bedrock under the plant and water flow directions. 

“This type of bedrock is known as Inwood Marble which is structurally sound and has a  low permeability to ground water, which means water has a hard time getting through the bedrock,” said Mr. Barvenik. He explained that the Hudson River was a regional sink with ground water coming from each side of the river. “The water flows under the river and comes up in the middle,” he said. “The ground water from one side of the river is very unlikely to get to the other side of the river, and vice versa. The water  from this side of the river is not getting to the other side.” 

A light moment came in Mr. Barvenik’s presentation when he showed a slide of the Hudson River that had gray boxes representing the plant. To further explain the river hydrology he said “Let’s look at the river without Indian Point.” Delight over the visual of the river minus the plant drew unexpected, thunderous applause. 

The NRC held their annual assessment for Entergy just hours before the evening meeting also at Crystal Bay.  Although open to the public no comment was allowed during the presentation, but questions could be asked at the end. The NRC told Entergy that Units one and two operated “in a manner that preserved pubic health and safety.”

Just outside, with the Hudson river as the backdrop,  members of IPSEC and Riverkeeper held a press conference countering the annual assessment results. IPSEC member Susan Shapiro said she was concerned that meetings with Entergy and the NRC were not a matter of public record. 

“That the NRC  is in there  listening to Entergy and patting them on the back is very disturbing,” she said. “After the assessment meetings they have public  comment  but we now know that it is not part of the record.  It never goes  out of that room and Washington  officials don’t know what’s  going on.” 

At the evening meeting Mr. Dacimo repeatedly said there was no health or safety risks to the public from the ground water contamination at Indian Point.

“Entergy and the NRC have taken numerous samples of drinking water supplies  in the area and they have not detected any activity from the units,” he said. “My personal standards and the standards of the company will not allow this to continue without an investigation. We live and work in this community. Our families live  here, pay school taxes. We are taking responsibility.”

A study just released this week in the medical journal “International Journal of Health Services” found raised levels of cancer in children who live near the Indian Point nuclear plant. The higher levels were attributed to the increases in radioactive Strontium-90 in local children studied over a four year period. The study by the Radiation and Public Health Project was partially funded with $25,000 from Westchester County legislators and researched strontium-90 in baby teeth. The report said that “the trend in average Sr-90 levels in 239 baby teeth of Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester County children was similar to that of cancer incidence in local children under age ten.” In a press release from RPHP, researcher Joseph Mangano said  “The study of Strontium-90 in baby teeth is evidence that what was found in groundwater is also escaping into the environment and may be harming local children.”  This is the 22nd medical journal article published  by RPHP.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced two weeks ago that a special task force will  study “inadvertent, unmonitored releases of radioactive liquids containing tritium from U.S. commercial nuclear power plants.” Among the nuclear power plants reporting radioactive water leaks are New Jersey’s Oyster Creek, the oldest commercial nuclear plant in the country reporting four tritium spills, the Braidwood nuclear plant near Braceville, Illinois, Arizona's Palo Verde nuclear power plant, 50 miles from Phoenix, the Dresden plant near Morris, Il., the  Byron plant near Byron, Illinois and the Indian Point plant, just 27 miles from New York City.

###

Spitzer slams Bush policies
Gubernatorial hopeful touts record on environment as he leads rivals in new poll
By ELIZABETH BENJAMIN, Capitol bureau
First published: Thursday, March 30, 2006 
ALBANY -- Democratic gubernatorial front-runner Eliot Spitzer outlined an environmental policy Wednesday focusing on renewable energy, cleaning the Hudson River and beefing up staffing at the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Speaking to a friendly audience of about 200 people at WAMC's Linda Norris Auditorium, Spitzer railed against President Bush, whose policies have angered many environmentalists.

The state attorney general called Bush "hands down the worst president on environmental and energy issues that this country has ever seen" and said it will be increasingly up to state and local governments to safeguard their own air, water and land.

Spitzer said he has sued the Bush administration "no less than 17 times to block their attempts to dismantle our environmental protection laws."

He called for more incentives for renewable energy such as solar, hydro and wind power, and said the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County should be closed as soon as replacement sources can be found for the 2,000 megawatts it produces.

Spitzer praised Republican Gov. George Pataki's open space conservation efforts, which include a goal to protect 1 million wilderness acres. But, he said, more preservation needs to be done in urban and suburban areas.

Spitzer also called for "adequate" staffing at the DEC, saying that with 800 fewer employees today than in the mid-1990s, inspection and oversight jobs go unfilled.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found Spitzer leading fellow Democrat Tom Suozzi, 69 percent to 14 percent among Democrats. A January Quinnipiac poll had Spitzer leading the Nassau County executive 72 percent to 8 percent.

Spitzer and Suozzi both polled ahead of the Republican hopefuls: former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, former state Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and former state Secretary of State Randy Daniels. The poll showed Faso passing Weld, 22 percent to 16 percent, with Daniels at 8 percent.

The poll of 1,674 voters was conducted March 21-27 and has a 2 point margin of error overall, 3.7 points among Democrats and 4.2 percent among Republicans.

Elizabeth Benjamin can be reached at 454-5081 or by e-mail at ebenjamin@timesunion.com.

###

Shutting down Indian Point a priority for probable State Senate candidate

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Indian Point nuclear reactors are just 25 miles from the closest points in the 42 nd State Senate District, currently represented by veteran Republican John Bonacic.

Democrat Ulster County Legislator Susan Zimet is seriously considering a challenge. Indian Point could be a key issue.

Zimet has taken an active interest in the debate over Indian Point’s future, including attending this week’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting on the spent fuel pool, and apparent leaks of radioactive material.

Zimet says a strategy has already evolved. “The last time that I had met with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission personally, they pretty much had said that when we get a new governor, if the governor wants to close down Indian Point, Indian Point will get closed down,” she said. “My goal is to help get a new governor, and hopefully, if I should choose to run for Senate and be up for the Senate, to help vote to support him to close Indian Point down.”

A new governor is assured. Republican George Pataki is not seeking a fourth term.

Copyright © 2006 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.

###

Threat to public from mishaps at Indian Pt. plants never seems to exist

North County News, March 29, 2006

The mouthpieces for the Indian Point nuclear power plants and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have become such masters of spinning they could teach a class at Club Fit.

No matter what happens with the aging plants, it's never a big deal, never a threat to the public.

Warning sirens that don't sound? No problem.

A worker that stumbles into the control panel and shuts down the plant? No big deal. Could have happened to anyone.

Leakage of a radioactive, cancer-causing material into the Hudson River, the only such seepage of Strontium 90 from 103 nuclear power plants in the United States? It's under control, kind of.

The worst part about the constant spin doctoring is it happens so often Entergy representatives have run out of creative ways to try to put the pubic at ease.

And why should they change what they're doing? After all, the NRC simply rubberstamps everything that is done at Indian Point as protestors correctly and cleverly pointed out yesterday (Tuesday) outside a pair of marathon public meetings about the latest mishaps at the dome of doom in Buchanan.

Entergy could regain some credibility with the public if it announced it had no intentions of filing for an extension of the 30-year operating permits the NRC controls for the plants, but no one should hold their breath for that blockbuster because it's never going to happen.

Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano and others have repeatedly called for the closures of the plants, to no avail. Heck, the pope could ask for forgiveness for all the misleading and twisted information that has been spewed from Entergy and it would fall on deaf ears.

The plants are a ticking time bomb and the spent fuel rods are a nuisance that will have to be dealt with for decades, long after the plants, some day, are turned off.

In the meantime, Entergy and the NRC walk in lockstep, earning millions of dollars together and making a mockery of a dangerous situation that keeps turning from bad to worse.

###

Radioactive leaks not viewed as threat
NRC accused of misleading public about Indian Point

 by Rita J. King
A fire-hazard-sized crowd busted from the seams of Crystal Bay in Peekskill last night (Tuesday) to hear presentations by Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on radioactive leaks heading toward the Hudson River.

A meeting geared at sharing information about radioactive leaks at Indian Point drew record crowds-and boycotters.

Despite the fact Entergy and NRC both admitted a lack of knowledge about the volume, source and intensity of the leaks, which are still under investigation, both the utility and the regulatory agency repeatedly assured the hundreds of people in the packed venue there was no threat to public health and safety.

Legally permitted doses of radioactive discharge that empty into the Hudson River far exceed the known limit of the levels of the leaks, officials revealed.

Crystal Bay played host to two meetings on Tuesday. The first, scantly attended, took place at 2:30 p.m. as Entergy and NRC conducted their annual assessment meeting. The second meeting focused specifically on radioactive leaks coming from the spent fuel rod pools at both Indian Point 1 and Indian Point 2. IP 1 is no longer active, but the spent fuel remains on the site.

Nearly absent from both meetings was the critics' usual visual shtick. In the past, gigantic yellow rubber ducks have been used as a symbol of protest. This year's emblem—detective hats and magnifying glasses—was far more subtle and less pervasive.

The first meeting was boycotted by key environmental groups that held a press conference of their own on the bank of the Hudson River with a huge WHITEWASH stamp and a large piece of paper with the same word stamped across it.

"Enough is enough," said Lisa Rainwater van Suntum, Riverkeeper's Indian Point campaign director. "We're no longer playing their game."

At the second meeting, Rainwater van Suntum stood before the panel of Entergy officials and NRC representatives and read NRC's mission statement: "…to regulate…to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety and security and…protect the environment."

"You [NRC] are shielding the owner/operator [Entergy] from scrutiny at best. You don't know anything with certainty. At worst, you're misleading the public. I'm standing here tonight to call your bluff. We don't believe you anymore."

No matter what calamity befalls Indian Point, she said, from radioactive leaks to unplanned shutdowns, NRC "repeats the same mantra over and over again to lull the public to sleep."

"We're here to keep you on your toes," Rainwater van Suntum said.

NRC officials repeated throughout the day that while the first leak was confirmed eight months ago during excavation, they don't have any definitive answers yet because an investigation is still pending.

"If you don't know something," Rainwater van Suntum said, "just admit you don't know."

Hostility broke out at the second meeting when people were turned away by police. Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz said the Westchester County Center would be a more appropriate venue in the future, and Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi said her town would foot the bill to have the long meeting transcribed when people grumbled at the event not being recorded for the public record.

Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition spokesman Mark Jacobs, who fought for closure of Indian Point long before September 11, 2001, took the panel to task for perceived inadequacies in the hydrology presentation delivered by Matt Barvenik, senior vice president of GZA.

Jacobs also questioned the willingness of the utility and regulatory agency to continuously assert safety in the face of so many unknown factors.

Barvenik garnered a booming round of applause during his presentation when he showed a slide with a sketch of Indian Point followed by another slide that only showed the terrain around it and said, "Let's remove the building."

Site Vice President of Entergy Nuclear Northeast Fred Dacimo said, "Entergy is a company that takes its environmental stewardship seriously. We fully intend to do the right thing and fully fix the problem…This is a complex investigation. It's not simple."

Kaplowitz cited a lack of trust toward the process.

"Play your regulatory role," he urged. "Can the NRC please become proactive, instead of reactive?"

A couple of weeks ago, he said, he sat in on a meeting at which some of the tests were discussed, and he noted the "conspicuous absence" of a discussion of excessive amounts of Strontium-90, three times the legal standard for drinking water.

Entergy Director of Special Projects Don Mayer said testing for Strontium-90 is difficult because the volume of nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s blanketed the entire country with a certain volume of the isotope which still remains.

Critics of the Radiation and Public Health Project, which collects baby teeth of children living near nuclear plants to test them for Strontium-90, calls the group's results into question for this reason. The project's national coordinator, Joseph Mangano, said that the average amount of Strontium-90 in baby teeth near Indian Point is 36 percent greater than in other teeth further from the plants. The average level of the isotope in baby teeth of children living near Indian Point, Mangano said, has risen 56 percent from the late 1980s to the late 1990s.

"Both findings strongly suggest that most Strontium-90 in baby teeth represents Indian Point releases," according to Mangano, "not old bomb fallout."

Putnam County Legislator Vincent Tamagna said he was the first legislator in the state to suggest closing Indian Point, "long before 9/11 and Rita and Katrina."

"My concern was over the spent fuel rod pools," he said. "I don't feel comfortable with the fact that we just happened to be excavating and discovered a leak. In how many other areas is this occurring?"

"Dilution is not the solution to pollution," said Clearwater's Environmental Director Manna Jo Greene.

Ulster County Legislator Susan E. Zimet said the "cigarette companies have said the same things" NRC says to assure people of safety, and that she would have loved to have seen the meetings that took place over the Love Canal.

"You're playing God with all of our lives," Zimet said.

Samuel Collins, NRC Regional Administrator, Region 1, said Entergy has taken all the correct measures to deal with the leaks, and that his presence would continue as long as the issue required additional regulatory oversight.

###

Indian Point, NRC officials met with skepticism

By GREG CLARY
gclary@lohud.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: March 29, 2006)

PEEKSKILL — Federal regulators and Indian Point officials told a crowd of about 400 people last night that the radiation leaks at the nuclear plant do not pose a threat to public safety — but the skeptical audience did everything from calling for an independent investigation to demanding that the plant be closed.

Sometimes speaking over a vocal, hostile crowd that spilled out of a meeting room at Crystal Bay on the Hudson, officials from plant operator Entergy Nuclear Northeast and from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission laid out what has been done to find the source of the leak and reiterated their commitment to solving the problem.

Radioactive strontium 90 and tritium have been found in monitoring wells at the nuclear plant at levels well above what is allowed for drinking water. Despite repeated reminders last night from state and federal regulators that there is no public safety concern, audience members showed they're not happy with any leaks.

"There's three times the acceptable level for (strontium 90 in) drinking water," said Manna Jo Greene, environmental director of the environmental group Clearwater. "But nobody in this community will drink the water. Health effects are cumulative. I'm not reassured, but it is your responsibility to make sure that groundwater isn't contaminated."

The most recent well testing showed strontium and tritium within 150 feet of the Hudson River. A company-hired hydrologist said last night that there was little doubt the materials were reaching the river.

The NRC has confirmed that conclusion, noting also that Indian Point is the only nuclear plant in the nation that is leaking strontium 90. The agency oversees 103 plants in the United States.

Company officials said they have been doing and will continue to do everything within their power to figure out the source of the leak — likely coming from a spent-fuel pool containing 400,000 gallons of radioactive water.

"Neither I nor the employees of Indian Point find the current conditions acceptable," said Fred Dacimo, the company official in charge of the site. "We're residents of this community, too. We fully intend to do the right thing."

Audience members called for the meeting to be canceled and rescheduled for a bigger place on a different date when the restaurant's 399-person limit was hit a few minutes into the presentation. Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, drew a big round of applause when he offered the County Center as a future location.

"It is the center of the county, and accessible to public transportation," Kaplowitz said. "It's also not on (Entergy's) home turf."

Putnam County Legislator Vincent Tamagna, R-Philipstown, voiced what many in the audience wanted last night when he called for the plant's shutdown.

"Structurally, there's not an issue," he said of Indian Point 2, where the leak was found. "That means the building can't fall down. That doesn't mean it can't leak. The spent fuel rods will be left to this community for generations to come."

NRC regional head Samuel Collins answered questions about the leak affecting a possible re-licensing of the plants by saying he believed it would not be a factor in the decision but couldn't say definitively without more research.

Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi offered to help figure out a way to get an independent look at the leak and possible cleanup.

"I think there should be an independent investigation and evaluation," Puglisi said. "Not (a company) selected by the NRC. I'll get my town engineer to pick out a company. With all due respect, sometimes Entergy and the NRC sound alike."

Earlier in the day, NRC and Indian Point officials met to go over the plants' 2005 safety performance.

A coalition of anti-nuclear advocates boycotted that meeting, standing outside to announce their own report card — which gave the company failing marks — and called the government's satisfactory grade a whitewash.

"If the NRC does not on its own agree to an ... independent safety assessment ... there can be only one conclusion: They're hiding something," said Lisa Rainwater Van Suntum, the Indian Point coordinator for Riverkeeper, the environmental group that has called for the plants' closings.

Earlier this month, the NRC gave Indian Point a passing grade for 2005, down a little from the previous year primarily because of nitrogen leaking from a cooling pump during the summer.

###

March 29, 2006 

Indian Point rated 'green'
Critics slam NRC

By Greg Bruno
Times Herald-Record
gbruno@th-record.com

Peekskill - While the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was praising Indian Point for a year of satisfactory performance during public meetings here yesterday, Mark Jacobs was in the parking lot, waving a giant rubber stamp.

On it, one word summarized his disdain: W-h-i-t-e-w-a-s-h.

Entergy Nuclear Northeast "is mishandling so many aspects of this plant that it makes it easy for critics to point out mismanagement," said Jacobs, a spokesman for the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, a group of citizen activists who favor closing the Westchester County facility. "The public is not going to stand for a whitewash by Entergy and the NRC anymore."

Since 2000, the federal agency charged with regulating the nation's 103 commercial nuclear reactors has graded Indian Point for safety and performance using a color-coded scale. The NRC announced yesterday that in 2005, the plant received a "green" rating, the highest possible.

The exemplary score was given despite a year filled with emergency siren failures, accidental shutdowns and a persistent leak of slightly radioactive water from a spent fuel pool on the banks of the Hudson River.

Regulators said yesterday that Indian Point operated in a manner that "preserved public health and safety," thereby justifying the green rating.

But Indian Point critics - from environmental groups like Riverkeeper and Clearwater to Jacobs' Safe Energy Coalition - disagree. During a news conference, the groups said the plant's high marks amount to a free pass for an aging facility located in one of the most populated parts of the country.

"The NRC has overlooked these issues time and time again," said Lisa Rainwater of Riverkeeper, as a phalanx of reporters scribbled away. Behind her, a mock report card giving Indian Point a failing grade of 'D' for 2005 mugged for the cameras.

"We feel enough is enough," Rainwater said.

According to data compiled by Riverkeeper, safety issues at the nuclear reactors last year ranged from a supervisor drunk on the job in January to the discovery of a leaking spent fuel pool in September.

Other concerns included failed pumps and reactor parts, control rod malfunctions and delays in public reporting.

But Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman, said the groups' grade school-type marks don't do justice to the complexity of the federal ranking system. He said not all issues identified by Indian Point's critics, while troublesome, constitute a chink in the plant's safety record.

Siren failures are a perfect example, he said. Under NRC rules, more than 6 percent of the system's 156 sirens would have to fail to justify a failing mark. That hasn't consistently happened.

"If you look at it from our performance indicators, Entergy has been within our thresholds," Sheehan said. "The statement that the NRC is indifferent to safety issues at the plant is really at odds with the facts."

Entergy officials, too, take issue with claims they have failed to address plant safety. Fred Dacimo, Indian Point's site vice president, said 2005 was a good year for operations; He promised this year will be even better.

"Improving Indian Point is a marathon, not a sprint," Dacimo said. "While we've made progress, there are challenges that remain. Indian Point still has a long road ahead in 2006."

###

CHILD CANCER NEAR INDIAN POINT PLANT RISES AFTER STRONTIUM-90 EXPOSURE - health risk linked to same chemical found in groundwater 

Trenton NJ, March 28 – Cancer in children living near the Indian Point nuclear plant rose just four years after increases in radioactive Strontium-90 in bodies of local children were found, according to a new medical journal article released today. 

The trend in average Sr-90 levels in 239 baby teeth of Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester County children was similar to that of cancer incidence in local children under age ten.  The study, published in the most recent issue of the International Journal of Health Services, follows the recent discovery of Sr-90 in groundwater near Indian Point.  Levels of the chemical, found in wells dug while searching for a leak from the plant, are as much as three times above the federal limit for drinking water. 

“The study of Strontium-90 in baby teeth is evidence that what was found in groundwater is also escaping into the environment and may be harming local children” says Joseph Mangano of the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) and author of the study.  This is the 22nd medical journal article published by Mangano and his RPHP colleagues. 

Sr-90 is a chemical produced only in nuclear reactors and weapons explosions.  It enters the body through breathing and the food chain, and attaches to bone and teeth, where it remains for many years.  Sr-90 is radioactive and cancer-causing, and is especially harmful to infants and children. 

Some critics of the RPHP tooth study have maintained that all Sr-90 in the body of children is leftover fallout from above-ground atomic weapons tests in Nevada, which ended in 1963.  But Mangano points out that average Sr-90 in baby teeth near Indian Point is 36% greater than other New York State teeth, further from the plant.  Moreover, the average level rose 56% from the late 1980s to the late 1990s.  Both findings strongly suggest that most Sr-90 in baby teeth represents Indian Point releases, not old bomb fallout. 

In 2001, Westchester County legislators appropriated $25,000 to RPHP to support the study of Sr-90 in baby teeth, the only study of radiation in bodies of Americans living near nuclear plants. 

The article was presented at a press conference at the New Jersey state capitol in Trenton today.  Rising childhood cancer rates just four to five years after increased Sr-90 in baby teeth were also documented near the Oyster Creek plant in central New Jersey and the Brookhaven National Laboratories in Long Island.

###

Officials try pinpointing Indian Point leak

By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication:
March 27, 2006)

BUCHANAN — The likeliest source of the radiation leak at Indian Point is a huge holding tank filled with water that cools and shields used plutonium fuel rods hot enough to catch fire if the pool were drained — and dangerous enough to kill anyone who comes in contact with them.

"If you were exposed in close proximity, unshielded, it would be fatal," Neil Sheehan, the spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said of the processed uranium pellets used to help generate thousands of megawatts of electricity at Indian Point. "We're talking here about high-level, radioactive waste."

Concerns about the leak have grown, especially since strontium 90, a byproduct of uranium and plutonium, was found in monitoring wells near the Hudson River. At elevated levels in drinking water, the isotope increases the risk of cancer.

NRC officials say it is the only case of strontium 90 leaking at any of the nation's 103 working nuclear plants, but that it has not reached drinking water sources near Indian Point.

Tritium and nickel 63 also have been detected, but not at levels that alarm regulators.

Nuke pool
To keep workers and the public safe, Indian Point maintains three spent fuel pools, using 90-degree water as both a shield and a cooling mechanism for its nuclear fuel rods.

The 30-foot-by-30-foot pool that company officials are looking at sits next to Indian Point 2, a reactor that powered up about the time President Nixon resigned, and a few months before Indian Point 1 shut down in October 1974.

Despite sitting in a half-inch- thick stainless-steel liner surrounded by concrete up to 6 feet thick, water from the 400,000-gallon pool began seeping through a hairline crack at the base of the structure in August. The breach has led to a special inspection by the commission, the drilling of 23 new testing wells, and public concerns about safety.

"You don't want to lose any water in the pool," said Jim Steets, the spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the company that owns the two working nuclear reactors at Indian Point. "But a lot of the things we deal with every day are dangerous. What's important is knowing how to deal with them."

NRC scientists have said repeatedly that the leak does not constitute a threat to public health. Still, the perception of a radioactive leak of any kind has some residents of the Lower Hudson Valley concerned.

"There's got to be a defect in the steel wall of some kind," said Buchanan resident Jim Siermarco, who worked with radioactive isotopes early in his career at IBM and monitors Indian Point as a volunteer for the village."There's a pinhole or a crack somewhere. If it's down where the fuel rods are, it's going to take time to fix it."

Entergy officials say that's a strategy they're pursuing, after having little success inspecting the two-thirds of the 40-foot-deep pool accessible to divers.

The remaining portion will require special underwater cameras and robotics to go where the fuel assemblies sit in racks in bundles of about 200 fuel rods, each about 12 feet high.

Company officials say they believe they have found a vendor qualified to inspect that area and apply special epoxy to any flaws that turn up. Entergy has encapsulated the cracks on the exterior walls, and now says that leakage has stopped.

But with strontium 90, tritium and nickel 63 showing up in numbers not seen on the site before, experts say they believe there is still radiated water leaking from somewhere.

Other leaks?
One possibility is that the stainless-steel liner is intact, but that the water from an earlier leak in the liner — since patched — has finally found its way through the more porous concrete. The escaped water could date back to when Consolidated Edison ran the plant in the 1990s.

So far, tests to determine whether the leak started more than a decade ago have been inconclusive, but are continuing.

The water has traveled to a monitoring well within 50 yards of the Hudson River, bringing the isotopes with it. The water is still contained on the site, and has not reached drinking water sources, the NRC said.

One longtime industry watchdog said Entergy's efforts to find the source of the leak and determine the extent of contamination show that Indian Point officials see the economic advantage of running a safe plant.

"The company could have tried to explain away a lot of what they've found with some hand-waving," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, an independent nonprofit alliance of citizens and scientists. "They seem to be going after a comprehensive set of answers."

Though there has been a lot of data and scientific analysis of the leak since September, federal and company officials agree that the list of questions continues to grow, and will require methodical research to finish.

"There are several remediation strategies that we can follow," said Steets, Entergy's spokesman. "We haven't reached the point where we know what is best to do. If this thing were on the edge of a public safety issue, we would be taking mitigation measures sooner. Some of this just takes time. We don't want to make too quick a decision out of reaction to the public interest in this."

Steets said the company also is looking closely at the fuel pool of the defunct Indian Point 1.

That pool leaks 25 gallons of radiated water a day into a specially built set of curtain drains. The drains capture water and allow it to be measured for radioactivity before it is released in accordance with the plant's permits.

During heavy rainstorms, however, the capacity of that system and its drains and holding tank are pushed to their limits, Steets said.

Safe storage
The future appears to be dry cask storage. Entergy officials are creating a site for storing its nuclear waste in containers that seal the expended fuel pellets and cool them with helium or inert gases instead of water. Eventually, the hope is to move them to a safe, national storage site.

The fuel pools would still be necessary to allow for a long-term cool-down period — probably five years — but wouldn't be the only storage method on site.

"Most plants are running into a space crunch," said the NRC's Sheehan. "At some point you have to look at alternatives to store the waste."

###

Homeland Security vows Indian Point aid

By GREG CLARY
gclary@lohud.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS
Public welcome at 2 meetings

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will have two public meetings Tuesday at Crystal Bay on the Hudson at Charles Point Marina in Peekskill.


• A 2:30 p.m. meeting will address the agency's annual assessment of Indian Point's operations.

• A 6:30 p.m. meeting is planned to focus on the leak in the spent-fuel pool.
(Original publication: March 23, 2006)

CORTLANDT — Indian Point is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the agency will work more closely with local officials to prevent a terrorist attack and save lives in the event of a radiation release, a key agency executive said yesterday.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ranked Indian Point "in terms of potential human consequences as the No. 1 site in the nation," said Robert Stephan, Homeland Security's assistant secretary for infrastructure protection. "My guys are here to make sure that we're driving interaction and planning among the various jurisdictions involved. That's what it takes to solve these problems."

Stephan and members of his staff met with local emergency and elected officials for a daylong summit at Cortlandt Town Hall yesterday, designed to heighten Homeland Security's understanding of the region's concerns about a potential emergency at Indian Point.

Stephan arrived a day after Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point, released new well test results from a radioactive leak that has local officials more nervous than usual about having nuclear plants in their backyard.

Entergy said Tuesday that strontium 90, a byproduct of plutonium and uranium, was found in concentrations three times the federal limits for drinking water, about 50 yards from the Hudson River. It is the only such leak at any of the nation's 103 working nuclear plants. The company also has found tritium and nickel 63, two other radioactive isotopes.

The isotope leaks were part of yesterday's discussions, participants said, but the focus of the day was on what happens "outside the fence," as Homeland Security labels the off-site area.

Before he attended the meeting, Stephan said in an interview with The Journal News that his agency recognized the need to improve interaction with county and town emergency planners and hoped to achieve that by combining its security and emergency preparation divisions.

"That creates some synergies," said the retired U.S. Air Force colonel, who added emergency preparedness to his responsibilities a few months ago. "We recognized that we had too much compartmentalized planning going on. The No. 1 thing I learned from (Hurricane) Katrina is that there has to be integrated contingency planning."

Jim Steets, an Entergy official who attended the meeting, said the company was interested to hear the discussion, but its primary responsibility for safety is on-site.

Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, organized the meeting and asked for a direct line of communication with Homeland Security's local personnel and another summit meeting on emergency planning.

"Having someone who's there — who's familiar with us — is really important," Kelly said to a gathering of reporters during a midday break.

Kelly said she also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is under Stephan's control, to work more closely with state and local officials, and called for a Cortlandt-based exercise to test preparation plans.

Stephan, who oversees about 400 people and a $300 million budget, said the agency has moved more staff into the field in New York to build closer relationships and help improve communication.

"If there were no Indian Point power plant, I would still be up here ... because of the geographic risk associated with New York City," Stephan said. "Because of its population, New York City is always No. 1 or No. 2 on our list. It goes back and forth with Washington, D.C."

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, who said he was blunt in his comments to Stephan, found some comfort in the federal agency's promise to get closer to the ground in its planning and involvement and to streamline its operations.

"That's what the problem has been — this silo mentality that has guys doing something over here and others doing something over there, and all they do is communicate by memo," Vanderhoef said. "This was impressive because we're talking to one of the top guys in security, and he recognizes Indian Point's importance. He also understands that we need to build the confidence of our residents."

Larry Schwartz, Westchester County's deputy county executive, said getting Homeland Security officials to visit was important, just as it will be to have them return.

"They have to be here to see what happens during rush hour," Schwartz said. "The key here will be the follow-up."

Stephan said his organization's primary responsibility is to provide resources as much as possible and make sure that gaps in planning that crop up at jurisdictional borders don't get overlooked. He said Homeland Security would have about $50 million in one pot of grants this year that the agency will try to direct in larger chunks based on potential impact to the largest number of people, which should help the Indian Point region.

Previous allotments were spread too thinly, Stephan said.

The federal government has other resources besides money, Stephan said, such as sophisticated computer modeling that can take fast-breaking data from a radiation release, for example, and within minutes calculate impact using wind direction and speed and a host of other information that locals should be able to collect quickly.

Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi thanked Kelly for orchestrating the meeting.

"I can't think of anything more important that we as public and private officials can do to help to secure the safety of our families and residents in our community," Puglisi said.

###

Indian Point evacuation plans to get another look

By JIM FITZGERALD
Associated Press Writer

March 22, 2006, 4:19 PM EST

CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. -- Officials from the towns surrounding the Indian Point nuclear power complex, after meeting with Department of Homeland Security representatives, said Wednesday they were confident the federal government would fully reevaluate the area's emergency evacuation plans.

Rep. Sue Kelly, R-N.Y., who arranged the meeting, said she left the
get-together with the impression that federal authorities would even
consider whether any plan could work.

"They are going to give every idea a strong look," she said.

Officials from three counties gathered in Cortlandt Manor to express their
concerns about the plans to Homeland Security representatives, led by
Assistant Secretary Robert Stefan.

"Homeland Security heard us loud and clear," said Larry Schwartz, the deputy
Westchester County executive. "They're not going to make policy in
Washington. They're going to make it here."

Officials need "to be here and see rush hour ... see when it rains two
inches in an hour and the Saw Mill, Hutchinson River and Bronx River
parkways flood ... when there's high winds and the Tappan Zee (bridge) is
closed," he continued.

Kelly said terrorism was specifically discussed.

Stefan would not take questions after the meeting but said Homeland Security
would work to find "what the gaps are" in the evacuation plans. He promised
more meetings.

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, many residents and officials in the lower
Hudson Valley have called for a shutdown of the two Indian Point plants in
Buchanan, 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan. They say the plants are an
attractive target and the region is too densely populated to be safely
evacuated after an attack.

In 2002, former Federal Emergency Management Agency head James Lee Witt, acting as a consultant, found that Indian Point's evacuation plans did not
properly address the possible effects of a terrorist attack.

In the past, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted assurances from
FEMA that the plans are in place and worked in a tabletop exercise. An
approved evacuation plan is a condition of the nuclear plant license held by
owner Entergy Nuclear Northeast.

Wednesday's meeting was generated last month when Kelly, whose district
includes Indian Point, questioned Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff about security preparedness issues during a House Transportation
Committee hearing.

Kelly told Chertoff that the poor federal response to Hurricane Katrina had
renewed Hudson Valley residents' worries about the Indian Point evacuation
plans.

Chertoff said, "We should look at the plans. I agree we have to be realistic
about whether the plans work or not. We shouldn't kid ourselves about it."

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

###

Indian Point leak of radioactive element spreads

By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: March 22, 2006)

BUCHANAN — Radioactive strontium 90 has spread to a third well at Indian Point and has been found at levels three times the amount allowed in drinking water — within 150 feet of the Hudson River.

Officials for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point, released the test results late yesterday, noting a strong likelihood that the radioactive isotope is reaching the Hudson River.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirmed the findings, adding that Indian Point is the only nuclear power plant in the nation that is leaking strontium 90. The agency oversees 103 plants in the United States.

"Clearly, these are different findings than we've seen, but they're not near any drinking water supplies," said Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast. "It still remains that there's no public health threat here."

Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, confirmed the numbers late yesterday as well as the lack of a threat to public health at the levels found.

The leak is coming from a spent-fuel pool about 300 feet from the river, company engineers have said. The 400,000-gallon pool uses water to cool spent fuel rods waiting for disposal.

Scientists also identified in the samples from Feb. 27 elevated levels of tritium and nickel 63, both of which emit low levels of radiation, company officials said. Commission tests showed similar results.

David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said yesterday that the concentrations of strontium raise health concerns despite still being contained to the nuclear plant's grounds and not showing up in any drinking water wells.

"The clue to the health concerns is in the (Environmental Protection Agency's) limits," Lochbaum said. "For tritium, it's 20,000 picocuries per liter of water, versus strontium, which is only 8 picocuries per liter."

The latest test results show that well No. 37, the testing area closest to the Hudson River on a straight line west from the spent-fuel pool, showed strontium levels ranging as high 26.4 picocuries per liter of water. Amounts of strontium at other wells were less than 2 picocuries per liter.

Lochbaum said once strontium 90 levels get above allowable drinking water levels, the risk for cancer and other health problems rises.

"At three times the amount allowed for drinking water, you're not in danger of cancer, but you're at higher risk," Lochbaum said. "It will cause different damage to different people. Tritium doesn't reside in the body that long, so it does less damage. Strontium tends to get absorbed in the bones and teeth and resides in the body for a very long time."

Lochbaum said both isotopes are unstable and throw off radiation trying to achieve stability, destroying nearby cells.

The nuclear safety engineer said strontium does much more serious damage to living tissue. For comparison purposes, tritium would hit like a pingpong ball, strontium like a bowling ball.

Their atomic weights back that up. Tritium's is 3, while strontium 90 is called that because its atomic weight is 90. Plutonium's atomic weight ranges as high as 240. Atomic weight is defined as the average weight of an atom of an element — the total mass of protons and neutrons in an atom.

Lochbaum said the volume of water of the Hudson River diminishes the impact on water in the area because it dilutes whatever comes into it. He did acknowledge that there is potential for the strontium to settle into the river's bottom, which would harm the environment.

Riverkeeper, the environmental organization that works to protect the health of the Hudson River, said the unmonitored releases were unacceptable, regardless of the river's ability to clean itself.

"Clearly the NRC, Entergy and the state have grossly underestimated the gravity of the radioactive contamination at Indian Point," said Lisa Rainwater van Suntum, Riverkeeper's Indian Point campaign director. "If this were a safely operating nuclear facility, it wouldn't be polluting the Hudson River and our environment with one of the most deadly toxins on Earth. Isn't it time the NRC and Entergy stop trying to defend this leaky, decaying plant?"

Top county officials within the plants' shadow also expressed their concerns.

Susan Tolchin, chief adviser to Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, said the daily releases of information has the public on a bit of a roller-coaster ride.

"First there is (strontium 90), then there isn't, then there is," Tolchin said. "Who do you believe? What's wrong with this picture? Who's watching the store?"

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef was equally upset.

"That's very disturbing," Vanderhoef said yesterday after learning the new results. "I'm not a scientist, but it seems that it's been leaking for a while. What else are we going to find? This stuff is complicated enough that you have to be able to understand the science of it all, but this is not good news."

###

More Contaminants Discovered in Water at Indian Point Plant

By MATTHEW L. WALD

NY Times 
Published: March 22, 2006

WASHINGTON, March 21 - Two more radioactive contaminants have shown up in the groundwater under the Indian Point nuclear reactor complex in
Westchester County, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Tuesday. But
the agency and the plant owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, said they did not
pose a hazard. 

For the last few months, plant technicians have been trying to find the flaw
that is allowing water with tritium in it to seep out of the spent fuel pool
for the Indian Point 2 reactor, but one of the radioactive materials
discovered on Tuesday, nickel-63, is more likely to have come from the pool
at Indian Point 1, a plant official said. Unit 1's pool has been leaking for
years, and Entergy has a pumping system in place to return the water to the
pool. "We're capturing most of it, but we don't know for sure we're getting
all of it," said Jim Steets, a plant spokesman.

The other material announced on Tuesday is strontium, in concentrations
about three times above the drinking water standard, in a sample taken from
a well inside a building at Indian Point.

But Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the commission, said, "It's not a
drinking water source, and it doesn't lead to a drinking water source." The
contaminated water is presumed to go into the Hudson River, which plant
officials say dilutes the contaminants to extremely small levels and is not
used for drinking.

Indian Point 1 used fuel clad in stainless steel, an alloy that includes
nickel. In the reactor, the nickel can become radioactive. While the reactor
has not run in 30 years, the half-life of nickel-63, the period in which it
loses half its radioactivity, is 96 years.

###

Radiation leak at Indian Point worse than first thought
News 12 Westchester

http://www.news12.com/WC/topstories/article?id=173711

(03/22/06) CORTLANDT - Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant owner, Entergy, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have confirmed the radioactive leak at the plant is worse than first thought.

Entergy and the NRC say the radioactive isotope strontium 90 has been at elevated levels in test wells on the Buchanan site. They also say the potentially toxic chemical is likely getting into the Hudson River. Entergy says the levels of strontium 90 that were found in monitoring wells may be coming from Indian Point One, which has been shut down for years.

Meantime, the leak was briefly discussed at a summit meeting at Cortlandt Town Hall Wednesday. The meeting was a result of a request made by Congresswoman Sue Kelly (R-Katonah) to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Also addressed at the meeting was emergency preparedness at Indian Point, following repeated problems with emergency sirens around the plants. Rockland and Westchester officials say the meeting did not resolve all issues, but it is a step in the right direction.

###

High levels of strontium-90 found in Indian Point groundwater

By JIM FITZGERALD
Associated Press Writer

March 21, 2006, 7:44 PM EST

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- High levels of radioactive strontium-90 - nearly three times the amount permitted in drinking water - were found in groundwater
near the Hudson River beneath the Indian Point nuclear power plants, the
plants' owner said Tuesday.

The groundwater does not reach any drinking supplies, and although the
strontium is believed to have reached the Hudson it would be safely diluted
in the river, said Jim Steets, spokesman for plant owner Entergy Nuclear
Northeast.

The strontium - which can cause cancer in high doses - was found in a well
dug as part of an ongoing search for the source of a leak of radioactive
water at Indian Point, which is in Buchanan, 35 miles north of midtown
Manhattan. Entergy's finding was matched by tests conducted by the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission on the same sample, Steets said. It was the first
confirmed finding of the isotope at levels well above the normal background
level.

The same sample also yielded tritium, another potential carcinogen, at
levels well above the drinking water standard. High levels of tritium had
been found earlier in another well, and the NRC announced Monday that it
would investigate accidental releases of tritium at Indian Point and other
nuclear plants.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said Tuesday that the commission still believes
that radioactivity in the water - given that it is not drinking water - is
well below the level that would "pose a risk to public health and safety."

The sample from the well also found higher-than-normal levels of a third
isotope, nickel-63, but those levels were under the drinking water standard,
Steets said.

The test well, inside a turbine building, is among nine recently dug in an
attempt to pinpoint the leak that is contaminating the groundwater.
Contaminated water first was found in August on the outside of a spent-fuel
pool for the Indian Point 2 reactor, but no leak has been found on the
inside of the pool.

The new findings add to the uncertainty, Steets said.

"When we first got these findings we were scratching our heads because it
does raise questions about what the source (of the leak) really is," Steets
said.

For example, he said, the presence of nickel might point to the spent-fuel
pool for Indian Point 1 rather than Indian Point 2 because those fuel
assemblies had more steel and nickel-63 is formed in connection with steel.

"It's still all speculation," he added. "This is just one data point in a
long process."

Entergy said water samples were taken at four depths in the well. Strontium
levels, in picocuries per liter, were 2.4, 3.86, 18.2, and 22.7. The
drinking water limit is 8.

Tritium, which becomes dangerous only at much higher concentrations than
strontium, was found at 12,800, 14,700, 28,000 and 13,300 picocuries per
liter. The drinking water limit is 20,000.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

###

More Strontium-90 found at Indian Point

By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: March 21, 2006)

BUCHANAN - Radioactive strontium-90 has spread to other wells at Indian
Point and the highest levels found so far - nearly three times the amount
allowed for drinking water - have been found within 150 feet of the Hudson
River.

Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owner of Indian Point, released the latest
numbers this afternoon, noting that strontium-90 has now been found in three
wells near Indian Point 2's spent fuel pool, which began leaking radiated
water in August.

Jim Steets, a spokesman for the company, said the latest results were
confirmed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which performed similar
tests for strontium-90 on the same sample Indian Point used.

"Clearly these are different findings than we've seen, but they're not near
any drinking water supplies," Steets said. "It still remains that there's no
public health threat here."

NRC officials confirmed that late today.

###

March 21 06

Indian Point threat worries officials

By Fred Lucas THE NEWS-TIMES

The federal government plans to launch a five-month investigation into
accidental releases of radioactive water at a New York state nuclear power
plant that's fewer than 40 miles from greater Danbury.

Monday's announcement comes as Connecticut and New York lawmakers are
calling for a wide-ranging safety study at the Indian Point plant. Members
of Congress want the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to assess the
plant's evacuation plan, construction, maintenance and operational safety.

Their bill would also require the Federal Emergency Management Agency to
explain why it approved an evacuation plan that only covers residents who
live within 10 miles of the plant. At least one study indicated that a
severe radiation release could lead to thousands of deaths in a 50-mile
radius.

U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4th Dist., has joined U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly,
R-N.Y., who represents Brewster and Southeast, and two other New York
congressmen in sponsoring the legislation.

"Nuclear power plants - including Indian Point - are vulnerable to terrorist
attack," Shays said in a written statement. "Given Indian Point's proximity
to highly populated areas, it's critical the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
go to great lengths to ensure the facility is safe."

Indian Point has been a lightning rod for controversy for about 30 years,
mainly because it is one of only a few nuclear plants in heavily populated
areas. The plant is 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan.

On Monday, the NRC mentioned only the investigation into water leaks that
have occurred in recent months. The water contained tritium, a radioactive
material that in high doses can cause cancer. But in this case, the NRC has
said, there wasn't enough radiation to pose a health threat, even though
some of the water seemed to be seeping into the Hudson River.

Still, 11 NRC experts and one representative of New York state government
will conduct a review, which will be completed by Aug. 31. A report will be
written before the year's end.

The NRC announcement seems unlikely to derail the congressional push for a
wide-ranging safety evaluation. Such an effort would cost the plant and
taxpayers millions of dollars, said James Steets, a spokesman for Entergy
Nuclear Northeast, which owns the Indian Point facility in Buchanan, N.Y. He
said the wide-ranging study is unnecessary.

"There is no hesitation on our part to participate and support this other
than the time and resources it would cost," Steets said. "This plant has
already demonstrated in many evaluations over the years that we meet every
requirement."

Steets acknowledged the ground water leaks near the plant, but he said the
small amounts of radiation posed no health threat. "The radioactivity on
site was just one-tenth of one percent," he said. "It can't get into the
drinking water and if it did, it's so low that it wouldn't be a hazard."

Street also defended warning alarm tests at the facility. Though there have
been problems at times, all 14 warning sirens worked during a test last
week, he said.

Further, Steets said the plant has rapidly increased security since the
Sept. 11 terror attacks. Even if there was an incident, he said it's highly
unlikely it would affect anyone outside the immediate area.

"A 10-mile evacuation zone is adequate. It's most likely (there would be no
danger) two miles from the plant," he said. "There is no reason for anybody
in Connecticut to ever evacuate during an incident."

But Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who wrote a letter in
January to the state's congressional delegation urging the safety
evaluation, said the plant is clearly a threat.

"We need a plan for the worst-case scenario instead of the least-dangerous
scenario," said Blumenthal. "This plant is almost unique in that it is in a
densely populated area and near the world's most populous city."

About 20 million people - including many greater Danbury residents - live
within a 50-mile radius of Indian Point plant. A severe radiation release
carried by the wind could result in 44,000 deaths in the short term and
518,000 over a longer period within that 50 mile radius, according to the
Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists and the New York
environmental group Riverkeeper. Both groups oppose nuclear power plants.

Though Connecticut officials have estimated the number of state resident who
could be harmed, they won't release that information, said Wayne Sandford,
deputy commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Management and
Homeland Security.

"It would depend on what is happening," Sandford said of the state's
possible response to an accident. "If it's a multi-town area, we have buses
available for evacuations."

Factors would also depend on the direction the wind is blowing and the size
of the radiation release.

"If the wind is blowing northeast, it would go toward Danbury," he said. "If
it blows straight east, it would hit Ridgefield. "

The congressional proposal calls for the federal study to be completed
within six months after it is enacted into law. That's because Entergy
Nuclear Northeast is expected to submit its application for relicensing the
plant in January 2007.

"With radioactive material leaking out of Indian Point toward the Hudson
River and the plant continuing to experience a wide array of other safety
issues, it is quite clear that an Independent Safety Assessment is very much
needed," U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., the bill's lead sponsor said in
a written statement.

"Indian Point is not functioning properly," he said, "and the health of area
residents and the integrity of the environment are being compromised."

Contact Fred Lucas at flucas@newstimes.com or at (203) 731-3358.

###

Feds to probe tritium leaks at nuke plants nationwide

By GREG CLARY
gclary@lohud.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS

What is tritium?

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is produced naturally in the upper atmosphere and can be found as a gas, but most commonly occurs in water, which is formed when tritium is exposed to oxygen. It also is produced during nuclear weapons' explosions and in reactors. Nuclear regulators say a person would "have to consume a lot for a long time in order to see significant health effects."

Original publication: March 21, 2006)

BUCHANAN — Federal regulators hope a new task force will determine whether the release of radioactive tritium at nuclear plants like Indian Point is part of a national trend and requires changes in oversight policy.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday announced the fact-finding panel, made up of 11 agency experts and one from a yet-to-be-determined state, to examine the issue of accidental, unmonitored releases of tritium from the nation's 103 plants.

"Indian Point is a factor in deciding to do this," NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said. "There are four locations that have had tritium contamination discovered in recent months, and Indian Point is one of those. The other three are in the Midwest."

The NRC is still in the midst of a special investigation into the source of the Indian Point tritium leak, which plant and agency officials believe originates from a spent-fuel storage pool that contains about 400,000 gallons of radioactive water.

The fact-finding panel is expected to complete its report by Aug. 31 and will look at some of these issues

• the potential public-health impact from tritium releases;

• how the releases were communicated to the public, state and local officials, federal agencies, Congress, and others;

• other inadvertent releases at nuclear power plants, including decommissioning sites, from 1996 to the present;

• industry action in response to the releases, including the timing of remediation efforts;

• and NRC oversight of accidental releases.

Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point, said the company would offer whatever help it could to the task force.

"To the extent that we can provide information or lessons learned to the NRC for use at other sites, about our efforts to ensure there are no health impacts to our workers or the public, we will gladly do so," he said.

Philip Musegaas, a policy analyst for the environmental group Riverkeeper, commended the NRC for looking into the matter, but said it was a continuation of the federal government's reactive approach to problems instead of taking steps to anticipate them.

"This is a further sign that their plants are poorly maintained and aging badly," Musegaas said. "They say there's no threat to public safety, but they know very little right now about how much of this stuff is leaking and the scope of the contamination at Indian Point."

Musegaas said tritium releases elsewhere stemmed from problems other than spent-fuel pools, such as discharge canals and underground pipes.

The NRC will hold two public meetings March 28 at Crystal Bay on the Hudson at Charles Point Marina in Peekskill. A 2:30 p.m. meeting will address the agency's annual assessment of Indian Point's operations; a 6:30 p.m. meeting is planned to focus on the leak in the spent-fuel pool.

Last week, federal regulators released a preliminary report on the leak, which began in August. Since then, monitoring has found signs of contaminated water moving toward the Hudson River.

NRC spokesman Sheehan reiterated the agency's position that there is no threat to public safety, that the tritium remains on the Indian Point site and that company officials have properly drilled test wells to determine the extent of the underground release.

"But we still don't know the source of the leak," he said.

Sheehan said the NRC had created a page on its Web site to provide the public the latest available information on tritium issues. That page is at www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/grndwtr-contam-tritium.html.

 ###

Nuke leaks taint Hudson

3-17-06 Bedford Record Review 

By ABBY LUBY 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission suspects that an uncontrolled release of
tritium is going into the Hudson River. The leak was found near the
discharge canal at the Indian Point nuclear power plant, situated on the
east bank of the river. Also last week, a monitoring well was leaking small
amounts of strontium 90, considered a more dangerous radioactive isotope,
but the amount leaked was not enough to pose a threat to public health, said
officials.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said that the tritium leak indicates a migration
under the discharge canal and into the river. "The conjecture is that it's
possible it [tritium] would be flowing to the river, and regardless of the
amount involved, it's considered an uncontrolled release."

According to an NRC report, water was sampled in mid-February from the same well that had the highest concentration of tritium levels at 600,000
picocuries per liter of water, 30 times the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) drinking water limit of 20,000 picocuries per liter. That sample also
showed a small amount of strontium 90, measured to be about 3 picocuries per
liter. The EPA drinking water limit for strontium 90 is 8 picocuries per
liter. At high levels, strontium 90 and tritium are cancer-causing agents.
Officials first learned about the leaks in a local news publication.
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano called a special meeting last week with the NRC and plant owner Entergy on whether the public is being informed about possible health threats from the plant in a timely fashion. At the
meeting were Congresswomen Nita Lowey (D-18) and Sue Kelly (R-19), who
called for an independent safety assessment at the plants.

"I worked with Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel [D-17], and Maurice Hinchey [D-22],
to do this report," said Mrs. Kelly this week. "I went into the plant in
January, and I got the NRC to consider what was happening. In February I
formally requested the NRC to conduct this assessment."

Mrs. Kelly said that it was important to get independent assessors in the
plant. "The NRC is there all the time, 24/7, and those people see the same
things," she said. "They may not see what a pair of fresh eyes would see."

According to a press release from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, at her
request, NRC chairman Nils Diaz intends to do a safety review of the plant
sometime in 2007. The review will look at the overall operation, design,
maintenance, and safety of the plant.

"There have been enough independent studies to close that plant twice," said
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Greenburgh), who is running for state
attorney general. "There are no independent studies. Most of the researchers
are from these large think tanks and are somehow related to the nuclear
industry."

Tritium and strontium are two particularly dangerous substances, said Mr.
Brodsky. "Both are absorbed by the human body," he said. "You couldn't ask
for two worse kinds of radioactive material. The problem here is that every
time you have one of these leaks, they minimize it and they tell you it will
never happen again."

Since August, officials at the Indian Point nuclear power plant have been
trying to find the source of leaking tritium near the spent-fuel pool at
Indian Point 2. Several more wells were dug to determine how much
radioactive water was underground. According to Mr. Sheehan, Entergy has dug 19 wells, and he expects them to dig an additional 14.

In early March, the environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper, which monitors
the Hudson River, area reservoirs, and aquifers, sought more information
about the leaks. Under New York State's Freedom of Information Law,
documents obtained by Riverkeeper indicated that both the State Department
of Health (DOH) and the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) knew of the strontium and tritium leaks since December.

According to an e-mail from DEC spokesperson Gabrielle DeMarco, the DEC
"became involved in this matter at the request of the counties and will
continue to provide them and other stakeholders with accurate information
throughout the process."

Ms. DeMarco said that the "DEC holds no regulatory authority in this matter
. and under the Federal Atomic Energy Act monitoring of radioactive
discharges from reactors is handled by the federal Nuclear Regulatory
Commission."

There are no discharge limits for radioactive materials in Indian Point's
State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit with the DEC,
explained Ms. DeMarco in her e-mail.

According to Mr. Sheehan, strontium 90 released in liquid form into the
Hudson River in 2004 was a total of 17.4 millicuries. "The total dosage
resulting from that would have been .003 millirems to the whole body and .01
millirems to any organ for any member of the public who was in the river for
the entire year," said Mr. Sheehan. "In other words, the amounts released
were a fraction of the allowable limits."

Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a group that studies the
effects of radiation, said that the EPA and the NRC have different limits
for water. "The EPA limits are stricter and are the ones that legally
apply," he said. "The NRC's dosage numbers are much higher than the EPA safe drinking water levels, and it sounds like they [the NRC] are giving out a
theoretical calculated dose and trying to say that the dose is trivial."

Exposure to drinking water is a major concern, according to Riverkeeper
policy analyst Phillip Musegaas, who said they are looking at the
possibility of several radioactive isotopes, including tritium, cobalt, and
cesium, getting into the aquifer or the sediment under the river.

Detecting the radioactive isotopes in the water that travels through
hairline fractures in the dense bedrock under the Indian Point plant is
complicated, said Dr. Martin Stute, a specialist in isotope hydrology at
Barnard College and the Lamont Doherty Research Lab. "In fractured rock you
really don't know if the entire flow of radiated water is through one
fracture or if it is connected to other fractures," he said. "It's difficult
to track anything with bedrock fractures."

The fractured bedrock, which is believed to be caused from construction
blasting decades ago under the plant, is also impacted by being over part of
the Ramapo Fault - an earthquake system covering southeast New York, said
Dr. Stute. "In areas subject to earthquakes over long periods of time you
can assume the rocks are more fractured," he said.

Dr. Stute, whose research involves measuring tritium and strontium 90 with
the element helium 3, said it's also difficult to determine the size of
fractures.

"In wide fractures the water is rushing rapidly and could move for miles in
a year or so, and contaminants can spread very rapidly," he said. "It's
important to test the drinking water wells in the area for contaminants."

Mr. Sheehan said that an "off-site characterization program" was started
after tritium was found in the wells in August and that test groundwater
wells have been drilled in and around Buchanan, where the plant is located.
"We do license Indian Point, and we are concerned with off-site
contamination," he said. "There's been no indication to date of any off-site
contamination."

Mr. Sheehan said that off-site locations that have been sampled for
contamination from Indian Point include the Algonquin site, the Gypsum
Plant, and the Trap Rock Quarry, all of which are within a few miles of
Indian Point. "Thus far, all the samples taken indicate no detectable
radioactive contamination," he said.

To date, the NRC has had no reason to impose penalties on plant owner
Entergy because according to Mr. Sheehan there haven't been any violations.
"If there was a violation as far as exceeding the allowable limits, it's
certainly something we would look at," he said. "But there are no set
penalties. We look at each event on a case-by-case basis."

Should the plant remain open while groundwater testing and safety studies
are being done?

"The plant needs to be operating," said Mrs. Kelly, "If they shut down, then
they don't know how the thing is operating. Also we need the electricity."

"Mrs. Kelly is misinforming the public," said Mr. Brodsky. "We have more
than sufficient power without the plant. Running Indian Point is more
expensive, and it's dangerous. The plant should be permanently shut down."

The NRC will be holding a public meeting addressing the recent leaks on
Tuesday, March 28, at 6:30 at the Crystal Bay restaurant in Peekskill.

###

New York delegation presses NRC for independent safety assessment

By Kathryn Casa | Vermont Guardian

posted March 16, 2006

WASHINGTON — Exhibiting an accountability that many Vermonters have been seeking for years, New York lawmakers have asked the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for written assurance that an inspection of the Indian Point reactor will be as rigorous as the one performed at Maine Yankee in 1996.

Members of New York’s congressional delegation introduced legislation March 7 that would require an independent safety assessment (ISA) at Entergy’s Indian Point, near Manhattan, specifying that it should be like the one at Maine Yankee. That assessment revealed design flaws so severe that the reactor eventually was shut down.

But NRC officials are trying to convince the lawmakers that a new inspection procedure, piloted two years ago at Vermont Yankee, will be sufficient.

In March 9 testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, NRC Chairman Nils Diaz told Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, that a 2004 engineering inspection at Vermont Yankee was “working very well.”

“We are going to conduct that type of assessment early next year at Indian Point … ” Diaz said. “We call it an independent safety assessment because we’re an independent agency, and it will be conducted completely, thoroughly and independent of any undue influences.”

“I don’t know that it is exactly the same,” Diaz conceded.

The VY inspection examined 45 components in various systems and found eight problems the NRC determined to be of low safety significance. All of those problems have been repaired, according to plant officials. The Maine Yankee inspection included a so-called "deep vertical slice" review of two safety and two non-safety related systems.

NRC Commissioner Edward McGaffigan told the committee that the NRC has performed no such inspection since 1996.

“We’ve come a long way since 1996," McGaffigan said. "We think we have a much better core inspection process today than we had in 1996 … it is a very, very thorough review. I think the spirit of [the legislation] is being followed … but if people are longing for a Maine Yankee-style ISA, we do better today in our baseline program today than we did then with that ISA.”

Clinton asked the commissioners to detail their comments in a letter “because certainly the idea of an independent safety assessment has a lot of credibility and support. … I just want to be assured that it is as thorough and comprehensive and independent as we can possibly make it.”

Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-NY, introduced HR 4891, which is co-sponsored by three other New York representatives and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-CT. The measure would require within six months of its passage, a “focused, in-depth” inspection of the “design, construction, maintenance and operational safety performance” of the systems at Indian Point, including the reactor protection system, the control room ventilation system and the containment ventilation system, the electrical system, the condensate system and the spent fuel storage system.

The bill also calls for a comprehensive evaluation of the radiological emergency response plan conducted by the NRC and the Department of Homeland Security, including a detailed explanation of why the NRC and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved a plan that has been rejected by the vast majority of local leaders, according to a press release on Hinchey’s website.

For years, Vermonters have been asking for both an ISA and better evacuation planning at Vermont Yankee. In 2003, the Brattleboro-based New England Coalition began calling for an ISA after Entergy made clear it was planning to request a 20 percent power increase at the reactor. Virtually every public meeting of the NRC near Vermont Yankee has been studded with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of signs calling for an ISA.

“Is this simply a case of my senator's bigger than your senator?” asked Scott Ainslie of Brattleboro, an NEC board member.

“Four nuclear plants have been shut down before their original licenses have expired by extraordinary inspections that made plain to everyone that they were too dangerous to run and too expensive to fix,” Ainslee said. “The fact is that Entergy, the Douglas administration and its Public Service Board don't want to face the facts of an independent safety assessment. They are gambling with our lives, our property, and our future.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, “is open to supporting requests for additional inspection at Vermont Yankee as consideration of the plant's relicensing proceed,” said spokesman David Carle. “At this point, it is unclear what the information needs are because the relicensing process has just began.”

NRC officials have made it clear that emergency planning, nuclear waste storage and any existing problems at the Vernon reactor would be outside the scope of the VY license renewal application.

Carle said Leahy “looks forward to a thorough examination of the information the NRC license review process is already designed to collect, and also to an open discussion with Vermonters and with state officials, the Legislature, the congressional delegation and Entergy about the adequacy of the data that is being collected.”

A spokesman for Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-VT, said the senator does not see the need for legislation on the ISA issue.

“The NRC currently has legal authority under the Atomic Energy Act to do safety inspections and conducted the 1996 inspection at Maine Yankee without legislation compelling it to do so,” said spokeswoman Diane Derby in an e-mail. Derby was asked to clarify how that statement applies to Vermont Yankee, but did not do so.

Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, did not respond to the Guardian’s questions.

NRC officials went to Montpelier Tuesday to meet with state officials, including Senate President Pro Tem Peter Welch, who is running for Congress, to discuss Entergy's bid to extend the VY license for 20 years when the current license expires in 2012, according to an aide in Welch's office.

The Vermont Senate on Wednesday passed legislation requiring Entergy to get legislative approval for a license renewal.

Meanwhile, a VY official told Massachusetts residents last week that an ISA had been done at Vermont Yankee.

“There was an independent safety assessment performed at Vermont Yankee at the request of the Public Service Board,” Entergy lobbyist Brian Cosgrove told Massachusetts residents at a March 13 public meeting in Northfield.

Earlier this month, the Vermont Public Service Board said the NRC’s inspection of Vermont Yankee did not comply to the letter of the board’s order, but was sufficient to satisfy their inspection requirements.

However, John Dreyfuss, Vermont Yankee’s director of engineer, told the Massachusetts residents that what occurred at Vernon reactor was an independent engineering assessment, and that New York was unlikely to get an ISA at Indian Point.

“What New York is likely to get will be the Vermont Yankee-style independent engineering assessment that was done in conjunction with the power uprate at VY,” Dreyfuss said.

###

Get it right the first time
Indian Point's safety problems need to be addressed with dispatch.

March 16 Times Herald Record Editorial

Indian Point conducted what was described as a "flawless" test of its 156-siren emergency alert system yesterday.

Big deal.

The test came a week after the whole system flunked because of a computer glitch. Indian Point has been good at getting it right on a second chance. Trouble is, life doesn't always offer second chances, certainly not as many as Indian Point has gotten for its emergency tests. It therefore behooves people who operate such risk-laden things as nuclear power plants to get it right the first time as much as possible. Lord knows, that certainly would help the people who live in the immediate vicinity of the Hudson River facility feel more comfortable.

The second-chance scenario has become so commonplace at Indian Point and caused such angst among public officials as well as average citizens that Entergy, the company that operates the plants, agreed last summer to install a new alert system. That's long overdue.

Entergy says it hopes to have the new system installed by the end of the year, which - assuming it works better than the current one - would certainly ease some anxiety. State and federal agencies that have to approve the new warning system are well-aware of Indian Point's repeated failures, which one would think should lend some urgency to the approval process.

But that's not the whole of it. The safety concerns were heightened in February when test results on a well drilled within 150 feet of the Hudson River showed levels of radioactive materials in excess of acceptable standards for drinking water. The testing well is near an Indian Point spent-fuel pool. The presence of radioactive material in water in such close proximity to the river is obviously disturbing. It suggests that a leak previously identified at Indian Point poses a greater threat than originally thought and makes finding the source of the leak a higher priority. Entergy needs to do more testing along the river as well.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has finally responded to demands by local congressional representatives for a thorough, independent assessment of safety at Indian Point. That review should go beyond the recent problems and it, too, needs to be given priority status. In addition, the NRC plans to hold a public hearing soon to discuss all the recent safety problems at Indian Point. That promises to be interesting.

Entergy says it will work with the NRC on its review, which is only right. People whose lives can be directly impacted by the presence of Indian Point's nuclear power plants need to know that the facility's days of second chances are about to end.

###

POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL -- EDITORIAL

Monday, March 13, 2006
Review will aid Indian Point

The news from Indian Point on the safety front remains disturbing. Earlier in the month, the plant operators reported radioactive elements were detected near an ongoing leak, as well as in water moving toward the Hudson River. This week, the notification system failed again in a test. Such unsettling situations support the positive response by the Nuclear Regulation Commission that will finally conduct an independent safety review of the facility. This action has been called for by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and representatives Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley; Nita Lowey, D-Westchester; Eliot Engel, D-Bronx; and Sue Kelly, R-Katonah.

The specifics of the review have yet to be determined, but given recent problems, the action must be completed quickly. It is slated to include assessment of the design, construction, maintenance and safety performance.

For the first time since a leak was detected in August, Strontium 90, a powerful radioactive element that enters and magnifies in the food chain, was discovered in a testing well near a 400,000-gallon spent-fuel pool.

Additional test results from a well drilled in February revealed tritium, in levels above acceptable standards for drinking water, within 150 feet of the river. This is particularly upsetting because of its proximity to the river and also it indicates contaminated water from Indian Point is flowing east to west, toward the river, rather than the hydrologically-typical north-south that has always been monitored. Officials believe this radioactive material may have traveled through hairline cracks in the property's bedrock caused by construction blasting decades ago. More monitoring must be conducted along the river's edge and a commitment made to determine the source of the leaking tritium.

Last week, the siren system, which has been plagued with problems, was down yet again for almost four hours when a test run failed. It's obvious a back-up system is needed. Following problems with the sirens last summer, Entergy agreed to overhaul the notification system. A vendor was named last month, and officials expect to have the new program in place by the end of 2006. Although it needs approval from numerous agencies, including the state and FEMA, the process should be expedited. An effective warning system is critical for safety issues.

The NRC has tentatively scheduled a public hearing later in the month to discuss Indian Point and a full report will be made public in April. In the meantime, the independent safety review must proceed. This is no time for the NRC to get bogged down in bureaucracy. The public needs to know what impact Indian Point has on the quality of life in the Hudson Valley. Entergy, which owns Indian Point, has pledged to be cooperative with the independent reviewers.

Representatives in Washington are right to insist on a far-reaching independent review. That comprehensive approach should serve the public, and Entergy, well. Problems have been occurring too long, and recently, too often, at Indian Point.

http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060313/OPINION01/603130312/1004/NEWS

###

Monday, March 13, 2006
Letters to the editor – Poughkeepsie Journal

Don't idealize safety of Indian Point plant

This is in response to the letter of March 1 by Bridget Kelly extolling the safety of the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

She writes hard hats and safety glasses had to be worn, which is all well and good, but they do not protect anyone from nuclear contamination.

She also states we have to have energy sources that are safe and environmentally sound. What about all the radioactive waste created by nuclear plants and all the fish killed in their cooling process; plus the potential catastrophic fallout if something should go wrong? Things have gone wrong in the past.

In closing, she says Indian Point is truly safe and secure. She must have supernatural powers to know this after only two guided tours.

I am not rating the plant on its safety or security, but we cannot view it through rose-colored glasses.

Joan W. Furman, Wappingers Falls http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060313/OPINION02/603130311/1004/NEWS

Tours aside, safety fears at Indian Point are valid

I would like to respond to a March 1 letter by Bridget Kelly, in which she describes a tour through the Indian Point nuclear facility with a group of high school students.

Kelly seems to base her conclusions about the safety of the plant on the fact that the employees wore hard hats and safety glasses. She said the tour guides answered all their questions satisfactorily. Did she ask if there was proper separation of electrical cables in tunnels? The government agency — the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — that monitors the safety at Indian Point has found cables that were not properly separated. Plant managers will assure the public that if one system fails, there is another backup system that will go into effect and deal with the problem. If cables that control the reactor are in the same tunnel as the backup cables and a fire occurs in the tunnel, the backup system will also fail.

A survey of Indian Point security guards revealed 82 percent of them felt they would not be able to repel an attack by the same number of terrorists that took down the Twin Towers and damaged the Pentagon.

A December 2003 nuclear commission report indicated there were nine unplanned outages between December 2001 and August 2003. Between 2004 and 2005 there were another six unplanned outages. Since March 1, a test of Indian Point's warning sirens has failed again.

Tom Baldino, Beacon

###

New York Times - Westchester Section 

Editorial: Fix the Indian Point Plan

March 12, 2006

There are many lessons that can be drawn from Hurricane Katrina, but one of the most useful may be this: Be skeptical about government emergency plans. Clouds of blame are still swirling on the Gulf Coast, but it has long been clear that the botched evacuations and needless deaths did not result from a lack of plans. Every level of government seemed to have one, and one after another they failed.

The region around the Indian Point nuclear plant needs a sound, workable evacuation plan, just as New Orleans did. That should be obvious to anyone who remembers the shock of 9/11 and failures during Hurricane Katrina, and who knows something about the everyday realities of moving around Westchester, where the nightly chore of moving workers from office to living room is often more than the groaning transportation grid can bear.

An Indian Point evacuation plan exists, of course. It's government-approved, which is good for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which runs Indian Point, because nuclear plants can't operate without government-approved evacuation plans. But the 20 million people who live within the 50-mile shadow of Indian Point have every right to be dubious about it.

Working together, Indian Point and the federal government have regularly reinforced people's faith in the human capacity for failure. The litany of missteps includes, but is not limited to, the Katrina disaster; Indian Point's years of trying to get its sirens to work right; the radiation leaks that spring up as regularly as dandelions; and, just this month, an accident that shut down the reactor at Indian Point 2. (A contractor bumped a light switch and cut power to the control rods. It sounds like a Homer Simpson moment, but it happened.)

A far more specific and damning case against the plant's emergency planning was laid out in 2003 in a report by a former FEMA director, James Lee Witt. Mr. Witt documented many flaws in the plan, particularly its failure to account for terrorist acts and to protect people from radiation. The response by FEMA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — a terse reassertion that everything was O.K. — was derided by local politicians, advocacy groups and this newspaper as insultingly insubstantial.

Now there is a chance to set things right. A bill introduced in Congress last week called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do an independent safety assessment of Indian Point — not just of its maintenance and operations, but a comprehensive evaluation of its emergency plan. It would require the agency to go over the plan annually to make sure it is adequate, and to give a detailed response to each criticism in Mr. Witt's report.

The bill's sponsors — Maurice Hinchey, Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel and Sue Kelly of New York, and Christopher Shays of Connecticut — were seconded by Senator Hillary Clinton, who on Thursday won the N.R.C.'s commitment to conduct the review. The agency should move quickly to keep its promise and make Congressional action unnecessary. After Katrina, it's a no-brainer.

###

3-9-2006 

RIVERKEEPER COMMENDS SENATOR CLINTON 
ON SECURING INDEPENDENT SAFETY ASSESSMENT OF INDIAN POINT


(Tarrytown, NY) Today, Senator Hillary Clinton announced that she received a
commitment from Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Nils Diaz that he
will order an independent safety review of the Indian Point nuclear power
plant.  The verbal commitment was made at a Senate Environment and Public
Works Committee hearing.  In a press statement, Senator Clinton indicated
that she expects from the Chairman a written confirmation that "will
incorporate the elements included in the legislation introduced by my House
colleagues." On Tuesday, a bi-partisan New York and Connecticut
Congressional delegation introduced legislation in the House that would
require the NRC to conduct an Independent Safety Assessment of vital safety
systems at Indian Point and require the NRC and FEMA to provide an
explanation detailing the facts they relied upon in approving Indian Point's
emergency plans since the 2003 Witt Report which criticized nearly every
element of the evacuation plans for the 10-mile radius around Indian Point. 

The following are statements by Alex Matthiessen, Hudson Riverkeeper and
President, and Lisa Rainwater van Suntum, Riverkeeper's Indian Point
Campaign Director: 

"Riverkeeper commends Senator Clinton for securing both an Independent
Safety Assessment of Indian Point's vital systems and a comprehensive review
of its evacuation plans," said Alex Matthiessen, President of Riverkeeper.
"With numerous safety problems at Indian Point and a gravely flawed
evacuation plan, New Yorkers deserve nothing less.  This week we have seen
our Congressional leaders - from both houses and from both sides of the
aisle - work together in order to put the health and safety of millions of
residents above all else."

"Today's announcement by Senator Clinton is a win-win situation for all
stakeholders," continued Lisa Rainwater van Suntum, Indian Point Campaign
Director.  "Indian Point continues to be fraught with safety and emergency
planning problems: a leaking spent fuel pool, failing emergency sirens, and
unplanned shutdowns, to mention but a few.  As long as Indian Point
continues to operate in this densely-populated region, the NRC and Entergy
should know the degree and severity of the problems in order that
appropriate measures can be taken before an accident occurs." 

### 

About Riverkeeper
Riverkeeper is a member-supported, not-for-profit environmental organization
dedicated to safeguarding the ecological integrity of the Hudson River and
the watershed areas that provide drinking water to New York City and parts
of four upstate counties by tracking down and stopping polluters. Since
1983, Riverkeeper has investigated and brought to justice over 300
environmental lawbreakers. For more information, please visit
www.riverkeeper.org.

###

Computer glitch leaves Indian Point siren test results unclear

By GREG CLARY

THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: March 8, 2006)

BUCHANAN ­ Indian Point officials took the entire 156-siren network down about 12:45 this afternoon, according to Rockland County officials, creating the need for police and other emergency personnel to alert residents by individual area in the 10-mile-radius evacuation zone should there be a true emergency.

Officials at Entergy, which owns the plants, were expected to keep the system off-line for about two or three hours as they tried to figure out what went wrong during a 10:30 a.m. test of the sirens in the four counties surrounding the nuclear plants in Buchanan.

There was also no back-up siren system available at that time, county officials said.

A computer program that both triggers the sirens and monitors whether they sound malfunctioned, so officials could not immediately determine how
many sirens sounded during the 10:30 a.m. test.

Indian Point did have some people assigned as spotters. In Westchester, spotters were at 14 locations, and all those sirens sounded, officials reported. Three spotters in Orange County reported their sirens sounded. Information
was not immediately available for Rockland and Putnam counties.

"Let's pray there's no real emergency before the new siren system is tested in October," said C.J. Miller, spokeswoman for Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef.

Indian Point officials have agreed to replace the decades-old system by 2007.

The sirens are not supposed to signal evacuation, but rather alert residents to check local media sources for more information about an incident at the plants.

###

RIVERKEEPER APPLAUDS BI-PARTISAN EFFORT TO ADDRESS EVACUATION PLANNING AND SAFETY CONCERNS AT INDIAN POINT

March 7, 2006

Federal Legislation Calls for Independent Safety Assessment  and Detailed Response to Witt Report Findings 

(Tarrytown, NY) Today, Riverkeeper applauds the bi-partisan legislative efforts of New York and Connecticut members of Congress who have introduced legislation that, if passed, will have an impact on the health and safety of over 20 million residents living within a 50-mile radius of Indian Point. The bill, introduced by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT), Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Congresswoman Sue Kelly (R-NY), requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to conduct an Independent Safety Assessment of vital safety systems at Indian Point.  The bill also requires the NRC and FEMA to provide an explanation detailing the facts they relied upon in approving Indian Point’s emergency plans for the past four years, despite the findings of the 2003 Witt Report.  James Lee Witt – the nation’s foremost authority on emergency planning – concluded that the plans are inadequate to protect the people from an “unacceptable dose of radiation.”  The introduction of this legislation reflects the Congressional delegation’s deep concerns over ongoing safety problems and inadequate emergency planning at Indian Point. 

“One thing we can certainly all agree on,” stated Riverkeeper’s President Alex Matthiessen, “is that as long as this plant operates and before a potential 20-year license extension is even considered, we ought to know that the plant’s vital systems are operating safely and that emergency evacuation plans would work in the event of an actual emergency.  We commend our congressional delegation in taking the lead on ensuring passage of this critical legislation in the House and urge their counterparts in the U.S. Senate to introduce similar legislation.”  

An Independent Safety Assessment at Indian Point would be similar to the one conducted at the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant, located near Bath, Maine, following years of poor performance and unplanned outages at the plant.  Maine Yankee’s problems, however, pale in comparison to those at Indian Point:  a December 2003 NRC report found that nine unplanned outages occurred at Indian Point 2 and 3 between December 2001 and August 2003 – more than six times the national annual average. Between 2004 and 2005 the plant had another six unplanned shutdowns. 

“With a federal agency that does little except toss favors to the bidding of the nuclear industry,” states Lisa Rainwater van Suntum, Riverkeeper’s Indian Point Campaign Director, “be they green safety ratings or rejections of petitions addressing critical safety issues, we must rely on Congress to help the NRC figure out how to do its job.  Last year the NRC missed the boat on the severity of Indian Point’s siren failures, and Senator Clinton and her colleagues in Congress overrode them.  This year the NRC has the audacity to grant Indian Point a green safety rating, while its toxins are leaching into the Hudson River.  How many times will they miss the boat before it starts to sink?”  

As the plant continues to age, the frequency and severity of  problems has intensified:  in 2004-2005, the problems included a drunken guard, improper separation of critical electrical cables, the discovery of faulty insulation that is not fireproof,  repeated failures of the emergency notification sirens, control rods failing to load properly, an improperly sealed shipment of nuclear waste, a nitrogen gas leak that went undetected for 77 days, and a leak of radioactive water containing  tritium, strontium, cobalt, and cesium from Indian Point Spent Fuel Pool 2.  The source of the leak has yet to be identified; remediation has not begun. 

The legislation also puts a spotlight on FEMA and DHS, calling for a “detailed explanation of the factual basis” upon which the NRC and FEMA determined that the emergency evacuation plans would protect the public and a detailed response to “each of the criticisms of the radiological emergency plan” as put forth by James Lee Witt Associates.  Since the report’s 2003 release, three of four counties within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone as well as the New York State Emergency Management Office have withheld their Annual Certification Letters for Indian Point’s emergency plans.  

“Last year the nation watched how poorly equipped FEMA and DHS were able to handle mass emergency evacuations of large metropolitan areas with a three day’s warning.  A fast-breaking radiological emergency at Indian Point would provide no warning, leading to devastating consequences for the millions of people living in the region.  On numerous occasions, FEMA, DHS and the NRC have refused to provide any details outlining their decision to approve these plans.  This bill addresses the federal agencies’ slapdash attitude toward public health and safety,” Rainwater concluded. 

Under federal law, FEMA must find that there is “reasonable assurance that appropriate protective measures can be taken offsite in the event of a radiological emergency…to adequately protect the public health and safety.” The term “reasonable assurance” is never defined in the regulations.  However, federal agencies are required by law to develop a clear and comprehensive record of the factual information relied upon in their decision-making process.  Agency decisions and findings that are found to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law” by a federal court will be held unlawful and set aside.

### 

About Riverkeeper
Riverkeeper is a member-supported, not-for-profit environmental organization dedicated to safeguarding the ecological integrity of the Hudson River and the watershed areas that provide drinking water to New York City and parts of four upstate counties by tracking down and stopping polluters. Since 1983, Riverkeeper has investigated and brought to justice over 300 environmental lawbreakers. For more information, please visit www.riverkeeper.org.

###

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: JOURNAL NEWS, March 7, 2006

Plant downplaying danger from leaks

Entergy, the firm that owns and operates Indian Point's reactors 2 and 3 is,
not surprisingly, downplaying the danger from the continuing water leaks at
the plant by not making a clear distinction between the two substances found
in that radioactive water.

Though the radiation from both substances found in water emanating from the
plant, tritium and strontium 90, is comparably weak, their potential for
harm is, nevertheless, quite different:

Tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, is found naturally in water, and passes
from the human body relatively quickly. In contrast, strontium 90 is
chemically similar to calcium, an element essential to normal function in
mammals. Exposure to it inevitably results in its taking up long-term
residence in bones and teeth and, with a radioactive half-life of nearly 30
years, its presence can lead to serious cancers. Strontium 90 also readily
enters the food chain, replacing calcium in the milk of affected domestic
animals.

It's bad enough that spent-fuel pools at U.S. nuclear reactors are the
facilities most vulnerable to terrorism. The citizens of this country and
county should not also have to contend with the subtle terrorism of false
reassurances from plant operators and compliant Nuclear Regulatory
Commission bureaucrats, who seem all to eager to gloss over these leaks of
radioactive H2O.

AL Hern, Mohegan Lake

Public must know extent of leaks

Regarding "Radioactive water may be following cracks in bedrock to Hudson,"
March 1 story: As a waste pool at Indian Point continues to leak radioactive
strontium and tritium, it's important for the public to know that strontium
90 is a very potent, man-made isotope that attaches to bones and teeth,
where it kills and injures cells. During the bomb-testing era, the U.S.
government collected baby teeth from the public and tested them for
strontium 90 levels. The resulting data revealed unacceptable levels and led
to the discontinuation of the above-ground bomb testing program in this
country.

Recent medical journal articles document the results of current testing for
strontium 90 in local baby teeth. In the late '90s, hundreds of citizens in
Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties filled out questionnaires and sent
children's baby teeth in special envelopes. Analysis revealed average
strontium 90 levels to be 36 percent greater than in other New York
counties, and rose 56 percent from the late 1980s to the late 1990s. For
more information about strontium 90 in local baby teeth, go to
www.radiation.org.

Strontium 90 and other radioactive chemicals are not just leaked into the
ground, but routinely released into the air during normal operation of the
Indian Point reactors. They enter human bodies through breathing and food,
and are especially harmful to fetuses, infants and children. Local residents
have the right to know how much radioactivity Indian Point releases, how
much enters their bodies, and what the true health risks are. A terrorist
attack or major radiological accident is not necessary for the plants to
harm people.

Margo Schepart, Yorktown Heights

Accidental shutdown raises questions

" 'The contractor was building a scaffolding along the wall of the huge
tower about 2:30 p.m. when he bumped an industrial-sized light switch 10
feet off the ground and cut off power to the control rods,' said Jim Steets,
a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the plant's owner.

" 'There's no cover over the switch because it's 10 feet off the ground,'
Steets said." (The Journal News, March 2.)

Excuse me? An industrial switch 10 feet off the ground that shuts down the
control rods? Is there a sign under it that says "In case of emergency, run,
find ladder!" or are all Entergy employees capable of jumping to this height
in situations of extreme stress?

Also, and more critically, what is a contractor doing unsupervised around
switches that can shut down the nuclear reactor, anyway? Are there any
switches in the area that he might "accidentally" bump into that could shut
off the water flow? Or create a meltdown?

Is this security?

Stephen Walfish, White Plains

###

Monday, March 6, 2006
Reactor waste moves official to call meeting


WHITE PLAINS — Local and federal elected officials hope a meeting today about Indian Point will provide answers about the seriousness of radioactive isotopes that have been found underground at the nuclear reactor site in Buchanan.

"Andy wants everybody in the same room," said Susan Tolchin, Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano's chief adviser. "These are the decision makers. They need to know what's going on, to get the right information from the people who have it."

Spano asked for representatives to come from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation, and Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point, to discuss the presence of tritium near the Hudson River and strontium-90 in one monitoring well onsite.

Entergy and the Commission have repeatedly stated there was no danger to the public, and reiterated that after strontium-90 was found in small amounts.

Tolchin said she expected staff members from many of the area's congressional representatives to attend, as well as Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef.

Vanderhoef was succinct in his comments about the gathering.

"I'll be attending the meeting to ask everybody a lot of questions," he said.

'Environmental assaults'

Meanwhile, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, wrote a letter Friday asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to conduct "an immediate investigation into the serious environmental problems" caused by the plants' operation, citing the strontium-90 and tritium.

"These discoveries are only the latest in a list of environmental assaults on the region by the Indian Point Power Plant," Engel wrote to the EPA. "The safety of our constituents warrants an immediate and comprehensive investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency."

Engel's spokeswoman said the letter had been circulated to other congressional representatives for the area, to see if they wanted to join in the request. Reps. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, and Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, have joined the request.

EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said the agency had not seen the letter and couldn't comment until officials there had reviewed it.

Entergy is sending Donald Mayer, who is overseeing the search for a leak in a 400,000-gallon spent fuel pool and leading the cleanup of any radiated water at the site, company spokesman Jim Steets said.

Pollution of Hudson

A week ago, the company told a working group of public and emergency officials in a biweekly meeting tritium had shown up within 150 feet of the Hudson and was likely seeping into the river.

State health and environmental officials were aware of the presence of strontium-90 as early as December, according to documents obtained by the environmental group Riverkeeper, which requested them under the state's Freedom of Information law.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health said the agency's director of environmental radiation protection would attend today's meeting. DEC officials will attend as well, according to an agency spokeswoman.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said his agency would send a branch chief from the division of reactor safety and the agency would provide "whatever information we can regarding our sample results and inspection efforts."

###

LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES WESTCHESTER SECTION

March 6, 2006

Matthew Wald's article regarding the ongoing leak of radioactive water from the Indian Point nuclear plant (March 5) omits several facts and issues that are relevant.  The article mentions that some radioactive contaminants can be stripped from water, but that tritium cannot because it is "incorporated into the water molecule."  Since our bodies are largely made up of salt water, any ingestion of the element will be incorporated in our bodies.  The EPA says that "tritium is carcinogenic" and that "especially sensitive to the effects of tritium are rapidly growing cells such as fetal tissue, genetic materials and blood forming organs."  The article barely refers to the Strontium-90 leakage that has also been found  The Center for Disease Control says, "Once in the body, Sr-90 acts like calcium and is readily incorporated into bones and teeth, where it can cause cancers of the bone, bone marrow, and soft tissues around the bone."  The article refers to the amounts found as small, but ignores that the National Academy of Sciences has said that "even low doses of ionizing radiation are likely to pose some risk of adverse health effects" and that "such radiation can cause DNA damage that could eventually lead to cancers." 

Importantly, the article neglects to inform the public that Entergy has unsuccessfully searched for the source of the leak or leaks for months without finding that source.  This suggests that we may have a long-term problem with no apparent solution.  All these issues should be considered when 20-year license extensions are sought for these plants.

Gary Shaw
Croton on Hudson, NY

### 

The 'lost art' 

Journal News Editorial
(Original publication: March 4, 2006)

"As Mark Twain said, rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated," joked a wan George Pataki, making a surprise appearance as doctors briefed the press about his post-appendectomy condition this week.

The governor wouldn't have had to perform damage control if he and/or his staff had earlier recalled another famous quotation from the pen of Mr. Clemens: "When in doubt, tell the truth."

Elected officials and others firmly stuck in the public eye could save bundles of money they throw at spinmeisters if they would simply — and finally — learn the wisdom of fully and quickly disclosing information they know to be of interest and importance to the public.

Consider, as further evidence, Thursday's page-one revelation that two state agencies sat for two months on the news that radioactive material leaking from the Indian Point nuclear plants was creeping toward the Hudson River.

In both cases, the failure to be forthcoming, you can be sure, produced unwelcome public reactions, such as "What are they hiding?" and "Why should I believe them now?"

The governor's appendix was removed in emergency surgery after abdominal pains brought him to Cortlandt's Hudson Valley Hospital Center on Feb. 16. His physician there reported no sign of infection after the operation. It came as a surprise when Pataki wasn't released a couple of days later, as expected; as a bigger surprise when he was later transferred by ambulance to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center; as an even bigger one when he quickly underwent unannounced new surgery to remove blockage in his digestive system.

Further explanation was sparse at the Manhattan hospital, until about a week later, when doctors revealed that Pataki's condition had been more serious than previously reported. That delayed disclosure seemed to touch off more, not less, scuttlebutt, even a cancer rumor.

The prescription to prevent such a PR disaster? Daily press briefings — at the risk of repetition, at the risk of admitting that a would-be presidential contender is pretty sick — beginning as soon as the first surgery ended. Tell the public what you know, as soon as you know it.

The same advice stands for the state Health Department and Department of Environmental Conservation. It was clear from a Dec. 5 e-mail unearthed by the anti-Indian Point environmental group Riverkeeper that the agencies knew of test results showing that strontium 90 had reached a point about 100 yards from the Hudson. The public knew of a radioactive leak from the plants' spent fuel pool, but this was new detail.

It need not have been an alarming one, as Riverkeeper noted in a Thursday story by reporter Greg Clary, expressing more concern about the lack of disclosure than the level of radiation involved.

Contradictory, incomplete and tardy information is a disservice, not only to the public, but to the interests of the focus of public attention.

We return to America's greatest humorist for the final observation: "Honesty: the best of all the lost arts."

###

Indian Point is a living, breathing unnatural disaster

Editorial, Bedford Record Review, March 3, 2006

How much more warning of the dangers inherent in a nuke plant 40 miles outside of New York City is necessary? At the Indian Point nuclear power plant this week, the ongoing and seemingly insoluble case of the leaking nuke plant water continued as plant officials announced that water containing tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, and the carcinogenic strontium 90, had been found within 150 feet of the Hudson River. A recent National Academies of Science report confirmed that humans can be exposed to tritium through inhalation, absorption, and drinking contaminated water.

Strontium 90 enters human bodies through cow¹s milk, water, and fruits and vegetables grown in soil exposed to radioactive runoff.

Although plant officials downplay the health threat, just what do the regulating government agencies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency think is safe?

Add this to the long list of follies and fumbles that the plant has had over its long and unillustrious history, first under the management of Con Ed and now under the helm of the Louisiana-based corporation, Entergy Nuclear Northeast.

Compounding this is the ongoing embarrassment of an evacuation plan that has been deemed unworkable by county executives in all of the counties surrounding the plant, as well as the topic of a scathing report by James Lee Witt, the former FEMA director (when FEMA worked!) appointed by Gov.

George Pataki to study the plan. While Entergy officials scramble to get working sirens in place, they continue to ignore the fact that the evacuation plan only covers towns within a 10-mile radius of the plant, ignoring all the rest of us in Westchester.

How many of us are aware that refugees from a possible radioactive disaster are supposed to be bused to Fox Lane, where they are supposed to shower down and find shelter? How many of us are aware that according to the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, the plant is not even prepared to withstand an attack from more than 19 attackers, and even the strongest reinforced concrete area of the containment dome is not tested for a crash or attack from a fully loaded jumbo jet? The casks that store the radioactive fuel rods only last 30 years, and there are still no workable plans for a storage facility elsewhere.

Sadly, the public has little to no role in the process of recertifying the plant, which is governed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. There is no popular vote or referendum. The towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge have both called for a plant shutdown ‹ Bedford¹s call coming at a town board meeting in December 2001, and Pound Ridge taking measures in 2003. County officials, including County Executive Andy Spano and the Westchester County Board of Legislators, seek decommissioning, as have Senator Hillary Clinton and Rep. Nita Lowey. While Rep. Sue Kelly has fallen short of seeking decommissioning, Mrs. Kelly called on Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff to explain FEMA's reasoning for approving an emergency plan that she and many other residents and local officials in the communities surrounding Indian Point view as fundamentally flawed. She called on Mr. Chertoff to organize a summit among federal, state, and local officials to reassess FEMA's emergency preparedness plans at Indian Point and resolve what she calls "glaring weaknesses."

"My constituents are understandably apprehensive about FEMA's ability to lead on this issue," said Mrs. Kelly at hearings in Washington.

Apprehensive? We're scared s---less. The residents of northern Westchester are terrified of a potential disaster at Indian Point, whether it be through the contamination of our waters, the tainting of our land and soil, the effects of nuclear fallout, or even the panic that could ensue from a botched evacuation.

On the "evacuation supplies checklist" were about 28 items that included medicines, baby supplies, clothing, hygiene items, money, identification papers, sleeping bags, radio, KI tablets, bottled water, and an emergency planning booklet. There were no radiation suits, protective gear, Geiger counters, or other consumer-type radiation detectors. Message to Westchester residents: good luck.

P.S. Anyone remember when Indian Point used to be an amusement park?

###

E-mails show New York knew about radioactive isotopes under Indian Point in December

By GREG CLARY
gclary@lohud.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Two state regulatory agencies had information late last year that strontium 90 was showing up in a monitoring well at the Indian Point nuclear plant — three months before they released news of the isotope's presence to the public this week.

A Dec. 5 e-mail between officials at the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation reported test results showing the radioactive material about 100 yards from the Hudson River. The memo was obtained by the environmental group Riverkeeper through the Freedom of Information Act.

Riverkeeper officials said the low levels of nuclear pollution were less of a concern than the lack of public disclosure by the agencies responsible for protecting the health and safety of local residents.

"If they knew strontium 90 was in one well three months ago, why haven't they tested all the wells for strontium?" asked Lisa Rainwater van Suntum, Riverkeeper's Indian Point campaign director. "Have they also been testing for cesium and cobalt, which showed up when the leak was first discovered? It seems like this is a haphazard game that they're playing in terms of keeping the public informed."

State Health Department spokeswoman Claire Pospisill had initially said the results showing the nuclear contamination were not available until late last week.

But yesterday, after reviewing a copy of the interagency e-mail, Pospisill said her agency had received results in December, but decided not to release them without further study.

"It was preliminary data," she said. "We had to confirm it, and we did."

DEC spokeswoman Gabrielle DeMarco also said the December results were too preliminary to release at the time.

The concentrations of strontium 90 found at the site are about a third of what is allowed in drinking water.

Pospisill said state health officials are testing more wells for strontium 90, but results aren't complete yet. The agency hasn't found any cobalt or cesium, she said.

Federal and local elected officials say they have little patience for any of the explanations.

"I have repeatedly called for Indian Point to close," said Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx. "Unfortunately, since it remains open, we must continue to call for strict measures for maintaining it as a safe facility — one that is not contaminating our water nor risking our health."

The controversy started Monday, when Indian Point officials released test results showing that a less-dangerous radioactive material, tritium, was likely making its way into the Hudson River and had been found in test wells within 150 feet of the river's banks.

State health officials also said that strontium 90 had shown up in one well about 300 feet from the river.

Strontium 90 is a byproduct of nuclear fission in weapons and reactors and is considered a more powerful radioactive isotope than tritium.

Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano is now calling for a meeting on Monday with representatives of the state's Health Department and DEC, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the plant's operators.

"We just want answers — how dangerous it is, if it affects the water system," Spano said. "We were a little blindsided by this. I had my Health Department stay in constant contact with the state Health Department after the leak was discovered. Their story is that there were traces (of strontium 90) and they didn't want to do anything until they had studied it and got it all straight."

Spano said keeping such important information from the local officials ends up creating problems with the public's trust.

"It's a constant problem. We think their perspective is poor and their judgment is poor," Spano said of state and federal officials who don't routinely share information with their local counterparts. "They have no concept of public reaction and the responsibility to the public."

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said the lack of notice was "remarkable."

"I don't even have a clue as to what the justification could have been for it not to be put in the public domain," Vanderhoef said.

Rockland emergency officials said they had not heard any discussion of the presence of strontium 90 in the biweekly meetings of the agencies responsible for Indian Point safety.

Spano said the Westchester County Health Department also didn't know about the radioactive isotope.

Indian Point officials have said they didn't know there was strontium 90 underground until they were told by the state Health Department on Monday.

Spano said he wants to hear from Indian Point's hydrologists about the test wells and the potential paths of the radioactive water.

"More must be done to determine where the radioactive water is coming from, and the fuel pools must be checked further for leaks," Spano said. "I want all the wells tested for strontium 90 and tritium."

http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060302/NEWS02/603020357/1020/NEWS04

###

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Spano wants answers on IP radioactive water

Copyright C 2006 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News
Network, Inc.

Saying Westchester residents deserve answers about the extent of the risk posed by radioactive water leaking from Indian Point, County Executive Andrew Spano today called a meeting of high-level health and environmental experts to get the facts on the latest Indian Point scare.

Spano said that he has asked for a meeting on Monday with representatives of the state's Health Department and the Department of Environmental Conservation, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy, the plant's operators, to find out what danger if any the leaks pose and what can be done to prevent more damage. Also, present will be representatives of the county's own health and emergency services departments.

"There are dozens of questions that come to mind immediately, and I am particularly concerned about the finding of Strontium 90,'' said Spano. "Does this pose a health risk? What does this mean to our drinking water, our environment and to the Hudson River? What is the extent of the contamination, and how do we stop it? There are too many questions and too few answers. And if these agencies were aware that Strontium 90 was found back in December, why weren't we told then and what have they been doing about it since then? It just goes to a question of credibility, and is one more very good reason why Indian Point should be closed.''

The questions about radioactive water arose Monday after Indian Point officials announced that they had detected levels of a radioactive by-product from the plant called Tritium in test wells just 150 feet from the Hudson River. Questions have also arisen about the presence of a more powerful radioactive isotope called Strontium 90.

Spano said he is particularly interested to hear from Entergy's hydrologists about the test wells and what that can tell us about the path of the radioactive water.

"More must be done to determine where the radioactive water is coming from and the fuel pools must be checked further for leaks. I want all the test wells tested for Strontium 90 and Tritium,'' said Spano. "We need to hold Entergy, the NRC and all the agencies monitoring our health and safety, accountable. We need answers and action.''

http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/IP_Spano-01Mar06.htm

###

Indian Point reactor shut down after worker accidentally cuts power

By GREG CLARY

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: March 1, 2006)

BUCHANAN — Indian Point 2 was shut down by the nuclear plant's owner about 3:30 p.m. today after a worker building a scaffolding inadvertently cut electrical power to the control rods used to brake the reactor.

Indian Point officials said the shutdown went according to procedures and should be back in full use in a few days. There is no threat to public safety, company officials said.

The control rods act as a braking mechanism on the nuclear reaction, which is fueled by about 4,000 surrounding rods that contain uranium. During a shutdown, for instance, the control rods are lowered together to stop the reaction.

The shutdown comes two days after Indian Point and state health officials released information showing that radioactive water was making its way to the Hudson River from a spent-fuel pool leak at the same nuclear reactor.

In early October, Indian Point 3 was shut for about five days after a control rod from the heat-generating fuel assemblies dropped into place on its own and without warning.

###

Radioactive water may be following cracks in bedrock to Hudson

By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: March 1, 2006)

BUCHANAN — Radioactive water moving toward the Hudson River may be traveling along tiny cracks in the bedrock created decades ago by explosive charges used during a construction project, Indian Point engineers and federal regulators say.

"When they blasted the bedrock in the late 1960s to early 1970s for the construction of various facilities, they created seams," said Jim Steets, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owner of the nuclear plants. "Do they know exactly where those seams are? I don't think they do, but the seams created flow paths toward the river."

Indian Point officials released test results Monday showing for the first time that tritium, a radioactive material, had traveled to a testing well within 150 feet of the river. They added that the hairline cracks in the bedrock are not large enough to create structural problems for buildings at the site.

Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy acknowledged that tritium probably was reaching the Hudson River, though the isotope did not show up in tests near the waterline.

A second, more dangerous radioactive isotope — strontium 90 — has been found, however, said state Department of Health officials who tested a well closer to the 400,000-gallon spent-fuel pool where a leak of radioactive water was discovered in August.

State health officials completed those tests late last week and released them Monday as well.

Entergy has estimated it will take six months to a year to determine the extent of the radioactive water release and clean it up.

NRC and Entergy officials say there is no indication that the more powerful isotope has made it as far as the river, but the company is continuing to drill wells to chart where underground water is traveling at the site and what it contains.

"We're still in the midst of our own special inspection and will be there every step of the way," NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said.

There is no public health concern at this point, Sheehan said.

Yesterday, the NRC took more samples of water from a well that earlier showed tritium was closing in on the Hudson. Those results will probably not be ready for a week, officials said.

Health Department spokeswoman Claire Pospisill said her agency is continuing to test for strontium 90 at other Indian Point wells. Those tests take a month or more to run and must be done with very sensitive equipment.

The NRC has tentatively scheduled a public meeting on the leak and inspection for the end of the month, with a full report to be made public a few weeks later.

The company has hired a hydrologist to determine where water is flowing underneath the two nuclear reactors, which deliver about 2,000 megawatts of power to the region.

Most of the water below ground moves north to south, Entergy officials say, but the discovery of tritium closer to the Hudson River means the water is finding some east-west pathways.

One of the facilities built for Indian Point was a discharge canal that runs between the Hudson River and a large turbine building where nuclear energy is actually transformed to electricity.

The discharge canal has served as a means for the company to monitor the release of radioactive particles into the ecosystem. For instance, the company has a permitted release of tritium that just exceeds 1,800 curies — the unit of measure of radioactive substances.

The amount of radiation found in wells near the canal is a tiny fraction of that — so small it is measured in picocuries. A picocurie is a trillionth of a curie.

Still, the federal drinking-water limit is 20,000 picocuries of tritium per liter of water, and testing from the leak site to the Hudson River showed amounts varying from that level to 511,000 picocuries near the storage tank.

What created concern among local emergency officials and others when the latest testing data were made available Monday was that tritium showed up in greater concentrations — about 30,000 picocuries per liter — in a well that was on the river side of the discharge canal.

That meant the radioactive water was running below the canal, and its release was not being monitored or counted against Indian Point's tritium release allowance.

"We liked it better when the tritium was in the discharge canal, because that's a monitored pathway," Steets said. "We have another monitored with the new well, but is that the only place? We don't know. That's why we're digging additional wells."

Steets said there would be 14 more, part of a second phase of drilling that Entergy hopes will pinpoint the tritium plume underground.

As the hydrology reports — one by the NRC and one by the company — are finished, Entergy engineers hope to determine where the radioactive water originated. One theory is that it was released more than a decade ago during another leak.

So far, half-life tests done to determine the age of the water have been inconclusive. Tritium has a half-life of 12 1/2 years, meaning that half of its radioactivity dissipates every 12 1/2 years.

The company is continuing its efforts to determine if there are more leaks in the 6-foot-thick walls of the spent-fuel storage pool, which is 40 feet deep and poses enough danger that underwater divers can venture only so far without exposing themselves to deadly levels of radiation.

###

More radioactivity detected in Indian Point water

By GREG CLARY
gclary@lohud.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS
What are isotopes?

• Tritium is a radioactive isotope of the element hydrogen. It is naturally produced in the upper atmosphere when cosmic rays strike air molecules and as a byproduct in nuclear reactors that produce electricity. Exposure to it and other radiation increases the risk of developing cancer.


• Strontium-90 is a fission byproduct of uranium and plutonium. Large amounts were produced in the 1950s and 1960s during atmospheric nuclear weapons tests.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

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(Original publication: February 28, 2006)

BUCHANAN — Federal nuclear regulators plan to inspect new samples of underground water at Indian Point today after the nuclear plants' owner said that tiny amounts of radioactive tritium and strontium-90 appear to be seeping into the Hudson River.

Both radioactive isotopes are byproducts of nuclear reactor operations, but federal regulators and local emergency officials say there is no threat to public safety now because the levels detected were near or below amounts allowed for safe drinking water.

"They've taken samples along the riverfront, and they're getting zeros there," said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "But there is a great dilution factor once you get to the river."

Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owners of Indian Point, released the tritium results yesterday at a biweekly telephone conference call including county emergency officials, state and federal regulators, and representatives of New York's two U.S. senators.

Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the state Department of Health found the presence of strontium-90 after analyzing split samples from some wells dug to test for tritium.

Company and public officials say both radioactive materials could be coming from a leak in the 400,000-gallon, 40-foot-deep spent- fuel pool near Indian Point 2, which was found during excavation work at the site in August.

Company officials said the leak never reached more than 2 liters a day, was quickly contained and has since stopped. They have not, however, ruled out that the pool has other leaks or the possibility that the water moving underground now might have been trapped more than a decade ago during an earlier leak.

There is no way to effectively monitor how much water goes in and out of the tank on a regular basis, company officials said, because a good deal of moisture is lost to evaporation. The company is continuing its search for other leaks in the tank, which has walls that are 6 feet thick.

To determine the reach of the radioactive water underground, Entergy has dug 19 wells in a network surrounding the spent-fuel pool. The company expects to dig 14 more before taking steps to stem the flow of underground water.

Sheehan said federal regulators were satisfied with the pace of the drilling and monitoring work. Entergy officials have estimated it will take as much as another year to finish.

The NRC agreed that more testing should be done, Sheehan said, because doing any remediation work now underground could jeopardize efforts to figure out the extent of the leak.

Anthony Sutton, Westchester's commissioner of emergency services, said he was comfortable that public safety wasn't a concern, but added that without the leak showing up during the summer excavation, there might not have been any indication that radioactive materials were moving underground.

"Would this have gone undetected had it not been discovered during construction?" Sutton asked rhetorically yesterday. "Shouldn't there be this kind of well monitoring throughout the site on a normal basis?"

###

Clinton should act on Indian Point

(Original publication: February 26, 2006)

The largest threat to the people of metropolitan New York, in my opinion, is
the Indian Point nuclear-fired electric power plant in Buchanan. Indian
Point's reactors can be replaced by a gas-fired plant without loss of jobs
and taxes. This can be done on an emergency basis, and the money is in place
to do it. Westchester County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz explains the details
very well, should you want to learn more.

Sen. Hillary Clinton has expressed concern about security in connection with
the Dubai port deal, but to my knowledge she has provided no leadership in
getting Indian Point converted to gas. She is not alone among our local
politicians in being absent on this issue, but she seems to have a special
advantage in trying to get the plant converted.

Alexis Herman, labor secretary in the Clinton administration, sits on the
board of directors of Entergy, owner of Indian Point. Sen. Clinton could
provide a useful public service in persuading Ms. Herman to push Entergy to
convert Indian Point to gas. This would be a real step toward strengthening
health, and hope for a future, for us all. I look forward to reading an
article saying that Sen. Clinton has talked to Ms. Herman about conversion.

Nick Mottern, Hastings-on-Hudson

###

New sirens coming for Indian Point

By GREG CLARY
THE JOURNAL NEWS

Features of the planned upgrade

• Two banks of two rechargeable backup batteries — four in all — for each siren.


• Electronic, all-directional sirens that don't have to rotate, so there is less potential for malfunctions.

• Backup communications to activate the sirens, using radio, telephone and cell phones, with satellite capabilities to supplement cell phone coverage.

• A silent-testing feature that sounds the sirens at a pitch inaudible to the human ear but would show the sirens sounded.

• Will provide to the counties the capability to transmit messages to TVs, radios, telephones, cell phones, pagers, Blackberries®, and computers, even during weather-related events and accidents.

• Currently used successfully at two other Entergy nuclear power plants.

Source: Entergy Nuclear Northeast


 

 

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(Original publication: February 25, 2006)

BUCHANAN — If all goes as planned, Indian Point should have a new emergency siren system in place by the end of the year.

Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns the Indian Point nuclear plants, has chosen a Boston company to replace the 156-siren emergency notification system that has been a headache for the company and local emergency officials.

Acoustic Technology Inc. has been awarded the $10 million contract, company officials said, and installation could be completed by the end of October. The entire system will need to be tested and retested until it is ready to replace the existing network and that should take the rest of this year.

Yesterday's announcement was a formality for local emergency and government officials, who have been working with the company and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to find a system that would not only sound to alert residents of the four counties within the 10-mile Indian Point evacuation zone, but could be adapted to different types of electronic notification.

Local officials praised the choice.

"We can't wait to get it going," said Susan Tolchin, chief adviser to Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano. "It gives us things we need to make sure we can alert the public in a variety of ways — with cell phones, text messaging, and tying into our current outbound calling system."

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said it was important that local officials were involved in the new warning system.

"I think it's good news, and the fact that we pushed hard contributed to it," Vanderhoef said. "Every little step doesn't make the problem (of a radiological emergency) go away, but it improves our capability to try and respond appropriately. We should be able to benefit from the improvements in technology."

The actual number of sirens that will be installed hasn't been decided, but there are fewer moving parts in the new model and they have backup capabilities for power and sounding that should eliminate the problems that caused frequent failures in the current system over the last few years, emergency and company officials said.

Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the new sirens also will have the ability to broadcast voice command, and the company is considering asking focus groups and public emergency officials if there's a sound that is preferred more than the low, steady hum that the sirens now emit.

###

Boston firm to install Indian Point sirens

Times Herald Record
February 25, 2006

Greg Bruno

Buchanan - The owners of the Indian Point nuclear power plant have chosen a Boston-based technology firm to install new emergency sirens in Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties.

Entergy Nuclear Northeast announced yesterday that Acoustic Technology Inc. was selected for the $10 million project. The company will install electronic sirens with no moving parts to limit wear and tear, back-up batteries, redundant activation methods and a silent-testing feature.

Since 2000, Entergy has spent $4 million improving its alert notification
system, which includes 156 sirens, but a string of failures last year
prompted calls for their replacement.

"We were frustrated when what we thought was a significant enhancement turned out to be unreliable," said Oscar Limpias, Entergy's vice president for engineering. "The counties had a right to complain, and now, with their help, we believe we are providing the best system out there."

Jim Steets, an Entergy spokesman, said it was too early to know how many sirens the new system will have, or how the system will be implemented in Orange County.

###

Thursday, February 23, 2006

NRC commissioner continues two days of Indian Point meetings

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is calling Commissioner Gregory Jaczko's two-day visit to the Hudson Valley a fact-finding mission about the Indian Point nuclear power plants. Today is the second day of his visit.

The commissioner, one of five members appointed by the president, is meeting with environmental groups including Riverkeeper and the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, the New York Public Interest Research Group; business officials including from the Business Council of Westchester County; the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance; representatives of the New York FEMA office; representatives of US Senate and House members; and county officials.

Jaczko is being brought up to speed on the issues surrounding the facilities and will not issue any public statements at the conclusion of his visit, an NRC spokesman said.

Last week, Congresswoman Sue Kelly, in whose district Indian Point lies, urges the NRC to send a commissioner to the Hudson Valley to hear firsthand the issues that are on the minds of many of the stakeholders in the plants' operation.

 Copyright C 2006 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.
http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/IP_NRC_visit-23Feb06.htm

###

Assessing Indian Point

By THE JOURNAL NEWS
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: February 22, 2006)

Go ahead, say what you want about the Department of Homeland Security — it dropped the ball on Hurricane Katrina, it would outsource port security to al-Qaida Inc., it really puts the "W" in domestic wiretap — its secretary could be our best friend in the Lower Hudson Valley.

Michael Chertoff, at the prodding of U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, has promised to organize a summit to review Indian Point's emergency evacuation plans — sort of the "blueprint" for our continued survival in the aftermath of a major mishap at the nuclear power plants in Buchanan, except that only small children and the foolish believe the plans are worth more than the paper on which they were scribbled.

The Homeland secretary pledged to set up a team to review the evacuation plans, in tandem with the appropriate agencies. "We should look at the plan," said Chertoff, who last week was called on the congressional carpet for the governments' poor response to Katrina. "I agree we have to be realistic about whether the plans work or not. We shouldn't kid ourselves about it."

That would be the first indication that Washington wasn't kidding itself on Indian Point. In a 2003 study, former FEMA Director James Lee Witt found significant faults in the evacuation plans, such as that they were virtually useless. Washington nuke regulators, however, were nonplussed by the findings. Mindful of the plants' attractiveness to terrorists, Westchester, Rockland and Orange county officials have refused to certify the evacuation plans. Likewise, their intransigence barely raised an eyebrow among the pocket-protector set at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Three regional members of Congress — Reps. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, and Maurice Hinchey, D-Middletown — have called on Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Gregory Jaczko, who visits the plants today and Thursday, to "examine whether the myriad problems raised in the Witt report as well as the concerns of local officials have been addressed." But it's plain that parts of two days is hardly enough for serious inquiry.

That makes the review promised by Chertoff all the more relevant. Neighbors of the plants, and by that we mean those within a 10-mile radius, really need to know what to expect in the event of a crisis — even if the answer merely reflects our common experience and understanding, that our clogged roads can hardly withstand the strain caused by a flat tire let alone that caused by mass evacuation. That truth is far better than the delusions contained in evacuation plans disavowed by the very officials expected to carry them out.

So we trust that Chertoff, sufficiently chastened by the Katrina experience, will follow through (this time) and that the federal lawmakers will hold him to the promise (this time), and sooner rather than later. What better way to show that George W. Bush, the new energy-wise president, who over the weekend renewed his call for new nuclear power plants, was as much interested in the related safety, environmental and siting issues, and not merely blowing smoke?

###

NRC official to visit Indian Point

By GREG CLARY

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: February 18, 2006)

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission member plans to visit Indian Point next week, and federal elected officials are urging him to use the tour to
conduct a thorough evaluation of the plants' emergency evacuation and
response plans.

In a letter sent yesterday to NRC Commissioner Gregory Jaczko, Reps. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, and Maurice Hinchey, D-Middletown, cited the flaws detailed in a 2003 report on Indian Point's emergency plans and said the NRC needed to increase its oversight of the nuclear power plants in Buchanan. The report was prepared by James Lee Witt, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"It is my sincere hope that Commissioner Jaczko uses his visit to Indian
Point next week for more than a photo opportunity with the press," Hinchey said. "It would be a wasted visit if Commissioner Jaczko doesn't come away from his visit to Indian Point with a clear understanding that a lot of work has to be done to investigate the plant's operations and evacuation plans in order to safeguard the people of New York and the surrounding areas."

Jaczko, one of five NRC commissioners, is scheduled to visit the area
Wednesday and Thursday for stakeholder meetings, a visit to the state
Department of Transportation's traffic management center and a tour of
Indian Point.

Westchester County officials also are reminding residents, businesses and
nonprofit groups to enroll in a program that would alert them by e-mail or
other electronic methods in the event of a significant emergency at the
plant. The confidential service is available at www.westchestergov.com.

The county has the ability to phone people during an emergency, but the
number of calls would require days to reach everyone. With text-messaging and e-mails, the task could be done more quickly, officials said.

###

February 17, 2006

Buchanan
Kelly: Nuke emergency plans need overhaul

U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly called on Homeland Security officials yesterday to host a summit with federal, state and local leaders to reassess emergency preparedness plans for the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

At a House Transportation Committee hearing in Washington, the Katonah Republican said evacuation plans for the areas surrounding Indian Point are inadequate, and need to be reevaluated.

"There are a lot of serious questions about the emergency preparedness plans for Indian Point right now, and a lot of those questions fall squarely on your lap," the congresswoman told Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff.

Chertoff replied: "We should look at the plan. We have to be realistic."

But Jim Steets, a spokesman for Indian Point owner Entergy Nuclear Northeast, disagreed. He said plans are updated every year, more if necessary.

"There's always value in obtaining lessons from other events, but some of the comparisons they are using out there are just not appropriate. "

In addition to requests for a summit, Kelly's calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct an independent safety review of the nuclear facility.
Greg Bruno

###

Kelly urges Chertoff to hold IP "summit" in the Hudson Valley

Congresswoman Sue Kelly Thursday got a commitment from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that his agency will take a close, hands on look at the Indian Point nuclear power plants.

Kelly questioned Chertoff during a House Transportation Committee hearing in Washington, D.C.

Kelly called on Chertoff to explain FEMA's reasoning for approving an
emergency plan that she and many other residents and local officials in the communities surrounding Indian Point view as fundamentally flawed. She called on Chertoff to organize a summit between federal, state, and local officials to reassess FEMA's emergency preparedness plans at Indian Point and resolve glaring weaknesses.

"I'll pass on to our under secretary my suggestion that he send a group up
to address this issue specifically with FEMA and state and local officials
so we can validate what are legitimate concerns and what needs to be done," he told Kelly at the hearing.

The Congressional hearing focused on emergency preparedness issues
nationwide, and Kelly told Chertoff that Hudson Valley residents and local officials have been expressing renewed concerns about Indian Point emergency plans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and FEMA's poor response to emergency needs.

The congresswoman noted that Westchester, Rockland, and Orange counties have not certified their county emergency plans.

Copyright C 2006 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.

###

Indian Point summit in offing

By THE JOURNAL NEWS
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: February 17, 2006)

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff agreed yesterday to help
organize a summit on Indian Point's emergency evacuation plans.

Chertoff said he would talk to his staff about setting up a team to review
evacuation plans around the nuclear plants, in conjunction with the
appropriate agencies, local officials and others.

"We should look at the plan," Chertoff said. "I agree we have to be
realistic about whether the plans work or not. We shouldn't kid ourselves
about it."

His comments came during questioning by Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, at a House Transportation Committee meeting on national emergency preparedness issues in Washington.

Kelly, a frequent critic of plans to evacuate a 10-mile radius to the
Buchanan plants, wants talks for local, state and federal officials.

"There are a lot of serious questions about the emergency preparedness plans for Indian Point right now, and a lot of those questions fall squarely on
your lap," Kelly told Chertoff. "My constituents are understandably
apprehensive about FEMA's ability to lead on this issue."

Citing Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties' refusal to certify the
plans, Kelly asked Chertoff why FEMA continues to approve them.

Chertoff agreed with the concept of reviewing emergency preparedness around Indian Point.

###

February 17, 2006

Buchanan

Kelly: Nuke emergency plans need overhaul

U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly called on Homeland Security officials yesterday to host a summit with federal, state and local leaders to reassess emergency
preparedness plans for the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

At a House Transportation Committee hearing in Washington, the Katonah Republican said evacuation plans for the areas surrounding Indian Point are inadequate, and need to be reevaluated.

"There are a lot of serious questions about the emergency preparedness plans for Indian Point right now, and a lot of those questions fall squarely on your lap," the congresswoman told Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff.

Chertoff replied: "We should look at the plan. We have to be realistic."

But Jim Steets, a spokesman for Indian Point owner Entergy Nuclear
Northeast, disagreed. He said plans are updated every year, more if
necessary.

"There's always value in obtaining lessons from other events, but some of
the comparisons they are using out there are just not appropriate. "

In addition to requests for a summit, Kelly's calling on the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission to conduct an independent safety review of the nuclear facility.

Greg Bruno

###

Kelly pursuing independent safety review at IP

Mid-Hudson News

Congresswoman Sue Kelly is calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct an Independent Safety Assessment at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan.

Kelly visited Indian Point on Jan. 30 to press her longstanding concerns
about the NRC's handling of an ongoing leak investigation at one of the
spent fuel pools as well as issues that she has raised about potential
problems in the separation of cables at the plant. Kelly brought Dave
Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, with her on the tour of the plants last week.

While Kelly said there have been efforts made to improve and upgrade the safety and security of plant operations, she is pushing for an Independent Safety Assessment as "the most guaranteed way" to ensure the utmost safety at Indian Point and for surrounding communities. She said a similar independent review in 1996 of Maine Yankee nuclear power plant detected some major safety and maintenance problems that would have otherwise remained unknown.

Kelly made the case for an ISA at Indian Point in a letter to NRC Chairman Nils Diaz Wednesday. "I believe an independent and thorough safety assessment of Indian Point is a necessary step to ensuring the plants' safe operations," Kelly wrote. "As you recall, the NRC established an Independent Safety Assessment team in 1996 to conduct a comprehensive horizontal and vertical review of the Maine Yankee plant. The formation of such an ISA team for Indian Point would help us make certain that problems are identified proactively in order to prevent any emergency or potentially disastrous event from occurring at Indian Point."

Kelly is requesting that the ISA for Indian Point be monitored by outside
experts and local officials. She said that an independent safety review "may help restore the public's confidence in the NRC's oversight, and will
certainly better assure the safety of the plant's operations."  

"The tour demonstrated that Entergy has made considerable progress resolving a longstanding problem - cable separation - as well as a more recent issue - leakage from the Unit 2 spent fuel pool," Lochbaum said. "The ISA would either confirm that Entergy has replicated this progress across the board or focus attention on remaining gaps."

Copyright C 2006 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.

###

English version of a letter sent to El Aguila, Westchester's
bilingual Spanish/English newspaper.

To the Editor: 

Re: The Entergy advertisement for Indian Point nuclear power plant which appeared in El Aguila News. 

Entergy Corp, the owner/operator of Indian Point nuclear power plant knows not only how to generate a polluting, dangerous source of electricity, but, also, how to distort and omit critical facts.
 
Entergy falsely states Indian Point is a source of zero greenhouse
emissions. Entergy would have us believe nuclear power is as clean as wind, hydroelectric, or solar power. If this were the case, then Entergy should be able to obtain uranium from mines, process it, transport its radioactive wastes, and pump water into its reactors without using coal, oil, or gas. Of course, it cannot, and these processes create considerable greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, even more harmful effects are created by Indian Point. It blasts hot water into the Hudson disrupting the ecology, sucks massive quantities of water into their cooling system killing billions of fish each year,  emits radiation into the air and water regularly, and generates toxic radioactive waste, which has remained on site and is likely to present a danger to New Yorkers for thousands of years. This toxic legacy we are leaving to future generations threatens all forms of life on Earth and needs to be changed. 

This last point bears frequent repeating. Entergy executives have neither
the space, nor a plan to store the radioactive waste generated at Indian
Point. How long will this radioactive waste remain hot and deadly in our
backyard time of Jesus, it would still be fatally toxic today and for years to come. Yet, Entergy executives do not consider halting production. This presents 20 million people who live within 50 miles of Indian Point with a disaster lurking at their doorstep.
 
The Entergy ad also misleads the public about the risk posed by Indian
Point. Indian Point is a known target for terrorist attacks, has gaps in its
defense capability, and has an unworkable evacuation plan.  Finally, Indian Point represents power from a past era which does not fit into a vision for a safer, cleaner renewable energy future as New York State is committed to generating 25% of its electricity demands by 2013 with non-nuclear, renewable sources. Entergy¹s shameful distortion of the facts is self-promoting and abuses the public¹s right to accurate information where its very health and well-being is at stake.

Sincerely, 

Dan Doniger

###

Environmental group lobbies Orangetown board on I.P.

By GERALD MCKINSTRY
gmckinst@thejournalnews.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: February 6, 2006)

ORANGETOWN — A group of residents wants the Town Board to oppose relicensing Indian Point, but some board members call such a move premature.

One Indian Point opponent is Jonathan Howard of Orangetown Safe Energy. The coalition of residents is working with larger groups on a grass-roots
lobbying effort to close Indian Point and come up with safer energy alternatives.

"If you have a small accident and the wind's blowing right, everything within 18 miles would be uninhabitable," Howard said. "It's such a no-brainer to me."

The Orangeburg resident said he believed Indian Point to be an obvious target for terrorists and said the energy company had inadequate security
and evacuation plans.

Entergy Nuclear Northeast, owners of the twin plants in Buchanan, must apply to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for re-licensing and can do
so five years before current ones expire, which will be in 2013 and 2015, respectively. If approved, the licenses would be valid for 20 years.

Although a Town Board resolution would have no legal authority with the NRC, Pam Cantor of Piermont said it would give the regulatory group a sense of what the community wanted. She said similar resolutions had been passed in five counties and 28 towns in New York and New Jersey.

"It builds pressure, town by town, city by city, person by person," Cantor said. "Once they see towns and counties doing this, it puts more pressure on them."

Ramapo, Clarkstown, Nyack, several other municipalities and Rockland County have passed similar resolutions in recent years. Last year, however, Orangetown voted down such a resolution by a 3-2 margin.

Denis Troy, a Republican board member, said it was premature to pass such a resolution because there was much to consider if the plant were to close.

"I want an alternative energy source and I want data," Troy said, adding that he wanted to know how closing Indian Point would affect the region's energy supply. "I don't have adequate information to make a decision."

He said other issues, such as keeping taxes down and taking care of Orangetown's infrastructure, took precedence. "I think that's far more important than passing a memorializing resolution," Troy said.

Cantor said the group expected to talk about renewable energy sources at the Feb. 14 Town Board meeting.

Marie Manning, a Democrat, supported the coalition and viewed its efforts as part of a larger movement to close the plant.

"I think it's in such a strategically dangerous place that it should be shut down. It's in a dreadful location," Manning said. "The more people that do it, the more power the resolution has."

Tom Morr, a Republican board member, said there was no harm in passing a resolution, but he wanted a realistic energy replacement plan to be addressed.

"I support the idea, as long as plans are in place," he said. "We're trying to do our part ... We're a small fish in a big pond."

###

NRC finalizes order for backup power on Indian Point sirens

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
FROM STAFF REPORTS
(Original publication: February 3, 2006)

BUCHANAN - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has finalized an order
requiring the owner of the Indian Point nuclear power plants to have a
backup power source for their emergency sirens by January 2007.

A draft of the order to owner Entergy Nuclear Northeast was issued last
month. The final order was issued on Tuesday, NRC spokeswoman Diane Screnci said.

A spokesman for Entergy, Jim Steets, said the company already had begun
replacing the old Indian Point siren system with a new system that would
include backup batteries for each siren and other improved capabilities.

The NRC order follows a new federal requirement contained in the Energy
Policy Act of 2005. The requirement, which was targeted solely at the
Indian Point plants, mandates that there be backup power for emergency
notification systems under certain conditions.


Sen. Hillary Clinton, who introduced the legislation, praised the NRC's
actions.

"The community deserves to know that emergency sirens will work no matter
what and that there are backup systems in place to ensure that they do,"
Clinton, D-N.Y., said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The sirens for the Indian Point plants had been unreliable in recent tests
of their ability to alert residents within 10 miles to an emergency.

In one October 2005 test, 10 of the 16 sirens in Orange County failed to go
off, and in a September 2005 test, none of Rockland's 51 sirens responded.
Performance was better, but not perfect, in November 2005.

###

You think the Tappan Zee is bad now ... ?

By BOB BAIRD
rbaird@thejournalnews.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS

http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060131/COLUMNIST05/601310305/1019/NEWS03

(Original publication: January 31, 2006)

Back during a long stretch away from this office working in Westchester, one of the frequent challenges was getting from east of White Plains to the Tappan Zee Bridge without setting tires on Interstate 287.

It was bad enough under normal conditions, but something always seemed to be out of the ordinary. It might be snow or ice, or a violent summer storm. It might be holiday weekend traffic. And of course, it could be — and often was — a problem on the Tappan Zee, whether an accident, emergency road repairs, trouble moving the barrier or some other unimagined nightmare.

If there was an accident on a Friday of a holiday weekend when it happened to be raining or snowing, well, that was the "perfect storm," the one that backed cars up to Connecticut and Suffern.

In the interest of self-preservation — and seeing my kids again before they got married — I found alternative routes.

One took me a block from the office, across a bridge over the highway and then into the fringe of downtown White Plains. Sometimes, I'd take Route 119 through White Plains, Greenburgh, Elmsford and Tarrytown to the last possible entrance to the bridge.

That was a simple one. Another took me north on the Bronx River Parkway to North White Plains, east through Valhalla and on past the Tarrytown Lakes to Route 9 and then south to the bridge.

Yet another involved picking my way through local streets to the Taconic Parkway, which allowed me to zip north — except when hundreds of others had the same idea — to cross the river at the Bear Mountain Bridge.

That's the desperate act of a desperate motorist, but I was pushed to use it several times and might have again had I been trying to make the trip that day a couple of weeks back when high winds toppled trucks and closed the Tappan Zee for hours.

There's nothing new here.

Problems on the bridge may be snagging more cars with more passengers and they may be causing more truckers and bus drivers to gnash their teeth.

But cars spilling onto the streets of South Nyack, which got hammered when the bridge was built 50 years ago, has been a fact of life for decades. They back up along Broadway and on the stretch of 9W that leads down to the entrance in South Nyack. Eventually, drivers spill off onto Route 303 in West Nyack and the Palisades Parkway. When the backup is bad enough or long enough, drivers crawl off the Thruway onto Route 59 at the Nanuet-Spring Valley interchange. Living in Suffern, I've actually seen traffic backed up all the way to Exit 14B and drivers getting off in Airmont to try their luck on Route 59.

All of which is why I've been so convinced over the years that any attempt to evacuate that 10-mile ring around Indian Point — including a large portion of Rockland — would be futile.

The recent high-wind closing drove the point home all the more.

There's a detour plan in place for situations on the bridge, but it wasn't activated Jan. 18. That left people like South Nyack-Grand View Police Chief Robert Van Cura to take it upon themselves to close Thruway ramps.

The weather conditions were rough, no doubt. But there was no sense of urgency involved — no Indian Point leak, no plume of smoke from a terror attack, no one hell-bent on getting home or to a school to gather up their children for the evacuation.

Had the plan been activated, the traffic would have been detoured onto all those roads people use on their own any way. Police agencies would be called to do that and we're told there would be instruction on the Thruway's radio frequency, which hasn't been much help in the past.

Now imagine there is something very wrong — something more than unusual weather conditions or an accident. Imagine a terror strike on the bridge itself or the problem they say will never happen at Indian Point or a bio-terror attack that requires getting people away from Manhattan.

Now think about how the Thruway detour plan didn't get activated and how it likely wouldn't have done much more than motorists do on their own. Think about whether police will have the time or personnel to put out detour signs and block ramps. As it was, emergency personnel had trouble getting through traffic.

Making the right calls in a real emergency will take quick, decisive thinking. It will need more than one variable message sign on the Thruway telling us something more than to buckle our seat belts. We'll need a radio link that comes alive with real information, updated and delivered instantly.

We need more technology and a lot of the Homeland Security money we're not getting to pay for it all.

Above all, we need a recognition at all levels of government — and among all of us — that the Tappan Zee Bridge is a vital lifeline, far more than just a route to work across the Hudson.

###

Lowey Urges FEMA to Reject Recertification of Indian Point Evacuation Plans

Westchester, Rockland County Executives and Congressional
Delegation Join Lowey Effort

January 27, 2006

WHITE PLAINS, NY - Hurricane Katrina sharply illustrated how flawed and
inadequate evacuation plans can lead to devastating consequences in the
event of an emergency.  The evacuation plans for communities surrounding the
Indian Point power plants have been consistently deemed inadequate by
experts and local officials alike. 

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) today joined local
officials in calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to
refuse to recertify the evacuation plans, which have already been rejected
by Westchester, Rockland, and Orange Counties.

"Indian Point sits in the middle of a densely populated area.  Our roads are
overwhelmed during routine commuter traffic, yet the Indian Point evacuation
plans depend almost entirely on roads and highways.  If FEMA again certifies
these evacuation plans, it will be turning a blind eye to common sense and
serious safety concerns," said Lowey.

A review of emergency preparedness at Indian Point completed by former FEMA
Director James Lee Witt in 2003 uncovered glaring deficiencies, including
traffic-related challenges that would likely result during an evacuation.
Wind storms seriously impeded travel flow throughout the area last week when
one major artery was compromised, causing congestion on roadways miles away.

Today, Lowey joined Representatives Maurice Hinchey, Eliot Engel and Sue
Kelly in urging FEMA to refuse to certify the Indian Point evacuation plans.
The Members further asked FEMA to release the criteria used for making
decisions about recertification so that local officials and residents can
better understand FEMA's review of the plans.  (Please see attached letter.)

Congressman Eliot Engel, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee,
said, "FEMA  can not in good conscience recertify the emergency response
plan for Indian Point. Even in the best of circumstances, an orderly and
safe evacuation of the area in the event of an accident or, worse, a
terrorist attack, is impossible. The recent storms in the area, which
blocked some roads and rendered some alert sirens inoperable, demonstrate
this. The people who know the area best, the County Executives of
Westchester, Rockland, and Orange Counties, refused to certify the plan.
FEMA should follow their lead and refuse recertification."

"It would be an outrage if FEMA were to certify an Indian Point evacuation
plan that has been rejected by the surrounding counties as inadequate,"
Congressman Maurice Hinchey said. "If ever there were a time the Bush
Administration ought to listen to local input, this is it.  No one knows
better about whether an evacuation plan for Indian Point makes sense than
the leaders of the surrounding counties.  FEMA needs to listen and work
with, not against, local leaders to identify an evacuation plan for Indian
Point that would adequately protect residents and prevent mass chaos if an
evacuation were needed."

"The concerns in the Witt Report that have gone unaddressed and the
inefficient response to Hurricane Katrina have given local officials
practical reasons not to certify these plans.  FEMA needs to acknowledge
these flaws and work more closely with our local communities to put adequate
emergency preparedness plans in place," said Congresswoman Sue Kelly.

"We appreciate all the efforts Congresswoman Lowey has made in order to
protect the people of Westchester County from what could take place at
Indian Point.  We are gratified by her support of our position that the
evacuation plans would not be effective should there be a fast-breaking
scenario.  It is for that reason that the county has not given its
certification, and nothing proves the point more than the problems caused by
the recent windstorm, when, should there have been an incident at Indian
point at the same time, people could not have been evacuated safely.  For
that reason I will continue to push for the closure of the facility,"
Westchester County Executive Andy Spano.

"We fully support Congresswoman Lowey's efforts and join her in calling for
disclosure from FEMA on evacuation criteria that has been kept hidden from
the public. The safety of our residents must come first. They are entitled
to a plan that works," Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said.

"When a wind storm can reduce traffic to a standstill, we must seriously
question whether our roads can handle an evacuation many times the size of
everyday commuter travel," said Lowey.  "Again and again, experts have told
us that these plans won't work.  FEMA must reject them now and work with
local officials to put in place safeguards that will truly protect our
communities."

###

Mr. R. David Paulison
Acting Director
Federal Emergency Management Agency

Dear Acting Director Paulison:

We are writing today in reference to the recent decisions of Westchester,
Rockland, and Orange Counties to refuse to certify the emergency response
plans for the Indian Point Energy Center.  In light of these decisions,
which these Counties have made based upon assessments of how to best protect
their residents, we are asking you to release the criteria that you plan to
use in making your own decision on certifying the plans.  Based upon a
preponderance of evidence that the plans are fundamentally inadequate, we
urge you to refuse to certify them until adequate response plans are put in
place.

The Gulf Coast hurricanes of last year convincingly demonstrated that a
large scale evacuation of densely populated areas is extremely difficult.
The Federal government's failure to provide timely assistance did nothing to
inspire further confidence, and the challenges posed by the number of people
and unique geography of the area surrounding Indian Point make the orderly
and successful implementation of the current emergency plan impossible.  It
is time the agency recognize what local officials have known all along: the
existing emergency response plans would not protect the public in the event
of a nuclear catastrophe at Indian Point.

As you know, a thorough review of emergency preparedness at Indian Point
completed by former FEMA Director James Lee Witt uncovered glaring
deficiencies.  The logistical challenges that could result from traffic
congestion during an evacuation were recently laid bare by wind storms that
swept the New York area last week.  When one major artery was compromised,
ramifications were felt on roadways miles away.  While this storm
constituted an emergency in and of itself, the demonstrated limitations of
the transportation system around Indian Point concern us even more.  If
traffic complications that are minor in comparison with an evacuation can
result in the gridlock witnessed during these wind storms, it is clear that
the consequences of ordering an evacuation with any roadway closures or
delays would be catastrophic.

Refusing to acknowledge the flaws in the emergency response plans is
dangerously irresponsible.  We believe that FEMA must take action now to
acknowledge this problem and begin the process of seriously evaluating
Indian Point's place in our community.

Public disclosure of your certification criteria and a refusal to certify in
the face of clear concern from local communities and officials would be
important first steps toward this end.  We look forward to your response. 

http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ny18_lowey/ip012706.html

###

January 6, 2006

NY Times

Upgrading of Indian Point's Sirens Ordered

By LISA W. FODERARO

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a preliminary order yesterday requiring the owner of the Indian Point nuclear power plant to install a backup power source for its warning sirens by early next year.

A final order could be issued by the end of the month if the owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, waives a hearing.

The company would then have until Jan. 30 of next year to make the changes so that the sirens could continue to function during a power failure.

Last year, Congress passed legislation that had the effect of requiring the Indian Point plant, which is 35 miles north of Midtown Manhattan in Buchanan, N.Y., to have backup power for its emergency notification system.

Entergy officials said that the installation of generators at each of the 156 sirens was impractical, given the risks of vandalism and theft, and that attaching a battery to each siren would be hard since the speakers, which rotate, require so much energy.

In the end, the company decided on stationary four-way speakers, which could be powered by smaller backup batteries. A spokesman for Entergy, Jim Steets, said that the company would spend "at least several million dollars" to upgrade the system.

 ###

Indian Point gets early OK for new siren system                 

http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060106/NEWS02/601060345/1020/NEWS04

By GREG CLARY
gclary@thejournalnews.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS

New siren system

The new emergency alert system for Indian Point would have


• All-directional sirens that would likely be louder than the 156 existing rotating speakers. Fewer sirens may be needed if tests prove they can effectively cover bigger areas.

• No moving parts that could lead to periodic failures; the system would be 100 percent electronic.

• A proven track record at other nuclear plants or at military installations.

• A backup power system.

• The potential to link up with other communications networks such as cell phones.

(Original publication: January 6, 2006)

BUCHANAN — Federal nuclear regulators yesterday gave preliminary approval to Indian Point's plan to upgrade its emergency siren system, which the company has promised to replace by early next year.

The action by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission formally initiates the requirement and cements the timetable for a new system to be in place by Jan. 30, 2007.

"If they sign off on (the draft agreement) it takes on the power of an order, and they have to abide by the conditions of the order," said Neil Sheehan, a regional NRC spokesman. "It's not a tool that we use every day, but it's one that's highly effective."

Entergy Nuclear Northeast, Indian Point's owner, was already obligated to replace backup power for the 156-siren system after a series of failures last year prompted U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., to require the improvement as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which passed in August. Three months later, Indian Point officials promised to install an entirely new system within 15 months.

"The new sirens are part of the company's plans to move this region into the forefront of notification technology," said Michael Slobodien, Indian Point's director of emergency programs.

The NRC's final approval is due by the end of this month, agency officials said. There will then be a series of interim deadlines to ensure the company meets the negotiated schedule. The Department of Homeland Security, for example, must have final siren designs by May 1, Sheehan said.

Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the company has narrowed its list of prospective system vendors to four and had a list of more than two dozen criteria that would be examined, including the cost, size and range of the sirens. No cost estimates are available yet, he said.

Steets said the number of sirens needed and their locations may change with a new system. He said Entergy was conducting its own tests to ensure that the 10-mile emergency evacuation zone, which includes sections of Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties, would be adequately covered.

Clinton applauded the latest effort.

"It is just common sense that the Indian Point sirens should operate in the event of a blackout, and I hope that Entergy will act quickly to confirm the order and put backup power in place as soon as possible," she said.

###

January 2007 Deadline Set For New Indian Point Siren System

POSTED: 9:40 am EST January 6, 2006

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The owner of the Indian Point nuclear power plants has agreed to replace their troublesome emergency sirens with a completely new system -- including reliable backup power -- by the end of next January, officials said Thursday.

The backup power, which would keep the sirens operational during a blackout, is a new federal requirement, pushed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and aimed solely at the two Indian Point plants in Buchanan, on the Hudson River 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan.

On Thursday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a draft order to the plants' owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, imposing a Jan. 30, 2007, deadline for implementing the new law.

Clinton, D-N.Y., said she hoped Entergy would "act quickly to confirm the order and put backup power in place as soon as possible."

"It is just common sense that the Indian Point sirens should operate in the event of a blackout," she said.

Actually, Entergy is going beyond the order, spokesman Jim Steets said. After deciding that backup power would be impractical for its 156 rotating, mechanically operated sirens, it has promised to replace the system with all-electronic sirens, each with its own backup battery. It expects to spend several million dollars on the system, Steets said.

"Entergy has committed to both meet and exceed expectations when it comes to public safety," said Michael Slobodien, director of emergency programs for Entergy.

The sirens, which are designed to alert residents within 10 miles of the plants to an emergency, have been unreliable in recent tests. In one October test, 10 of the 16 sirens in Orange County failed to go off, and in a September test, none of Rockland's 51 sirens responded. Performance was better, but not perfect, in November.

Steets said the new system "will be much more reliable."

He said Entergy would not oppose the NRC's draft order but might offer some comments before its final form is adopted at the end of this month. He praised the commission for consulting with Entergy about a "reasonable timetable."

Besides the Jan. 30, 2007, deadline for completion, the order imposes a May 1, 2006, design deadline and insists on a June 30, 2006, progress report.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the federal law made backup power mandatory but "didn't provide a road map of how to get there."

"That was for us to carry out," he said. "We held a public meeting in November, and we got some realistic information from Entergy about when they could implement this new system.

"We could have given them six months, but if it's not realistic, what's the point?"

According to the order, the sirens' backup batteries must be able to keep the sirens available for 24 hours after any loss of power and to sound them for 15 minutes if necessary during an outage.

© 2005 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://www.wnbc.com/politics/5884318/detail.html

 

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