The environmental group Riverkeeper, joined by 54 other organizations, took its action as members of Congress expressed concern about the plant’s safety in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Representative Nita M. Lowey, a Westchester Democrat, and Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to explain what it was doing in response to a different report, written last year by a consultant to the plant’s owner, Entergy, that said most of its security guards did not believe that they could adequately defend the two active reactors against an attack.
Representative Eliot L. Engel, a Democrat whose district includes the Bronx and Westchester and Rockland Counties, today renewed his call to shut down the plant, 35 miles north of Midtown Manhattan in the Westchester village of Buchanan. He joined Representative Sue Kelly, a Republican from Katonah whose district includes the plant, who called for a shutdown on Friday after reading last week’s report.
The actions showed that opponents pressing for the closing of the plant planned to keep up their momentum, which was reinvigorated by the release of a report Friday by James Lee Witt, a former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It said evacuation plans for the area surrounding the plant were unworkable, especially in the event of a large release of radiation from a terrorist attack.
The next front in the battle is the usually perfunctory certification of the disaster plan, which describes how thousands of people living within a 10-mile radius of the plant would be evacuated or sheltered from radiation. Critics of the plant said the governor’s refusal to recertify the plan would send a strong signal to federal regulators and begin the process of shutting the plant down.
Every year, the director of the State Emergency Management Office must send a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency certifying that the “radiological emergency preparedness” plan is in place. The federal disaster agency then tells the Nuclear Regulatory Commission whether the plan has been approved.
The state sends its certification after collecting forms, essentially checklists, from the four counties surrounding the plant confirming that they have resources in place for an emergency.
But today, the Orange County executive, Edward A. Diana, said in an interview that the county would not send its certification letter because of his concerns about the Witt report. He joins Andrew J. Spano, the Westchester executive, who also said he would not sign off on the certification.
A spokeswoman for the Rockland County executive, C. Scott Vanderhoef, said he had made a decision but would not announce it until after a conference call planned for Wednesday among the four county executives. Robert J. Bondi, the Putnam County executive, did not return a phone call.
Pataki administration officials have said the certification letter is not an endorsement of the plan, but a bureaucratic formality confirming that the state has complied with federal regulations for such plans.
A spokesman for the Emergency Management Office, Dennis Michalski, said it was waiting to see what the counties do.
Mr. Michalski said he was not sure what the state would do if one or more counties took the unprecedented step of not certifying their piece of the plan.
“We’re in uncharted waters,” Mr. Michalski said. “We have never been to this point before.”
Although opponents of the plant believe that they can push for a shutdown this way, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said it could still allow the plant to operate without the emergency plan.
Even if FEMA were to tell the commission that planning was deficient, the commission would have to find that the preparations did not provide “reasonable assurance that adequate protective measures can and will be taken in event of a radiological emergency” before it would act, N.R.C. guidelines say.“