Former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt surprised many onlookers with his thorough, independent and honest appraisal of the so-called evacuation plan for the Indian Point nuclear power plants.

It was expected in many circles that Witt’s five-month review would consist of nothing more than a political rehash of rhetoric for the $900,000 he was handsomely paid by the state.

To his credit, Witt told it like it is, and like anyone with a shred of common sense has been saying for years—the evacuation plan won’t work because it is not realistic in so many ways.

Therefore, without a workable evacuation plan, the plants, saddled already with an awful track record, should no longer be allowed to operate in an area where 20 million people are at serious risk if an accident were to occur.

Witt was not commissioned to give his two cents about whether the plants should be shut down but shortly after his much-anticipated report was released, many opponents spoke for him in calling for the switch to be immediately pulled.

Even Congresswoman Sue Kelly (R/Katonah), a longtime proponent of Indian Point, jumped on the bandwagon.

However, Governor George Pataki continued his house of pancakes routine by waffling on the issue, as he did during his recent campaign.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees the plants and ultimately will hammer the final nail in the coffin if a decision is ever made to do away with Indian Point, also hasn’t said boo.

The license for Indian Point, which opened in 1974, is set to expire in 2013.

There is no dog and pony show that Entergy can put on that could convince the NRC to extend the license, and they shouldn’t even be given the opportunity.

The decommissioning of the plants should begin immediately, including plans for the 150 workers at Indian Point, where the electricity the plants provide will come from and how the Hendrick Hudson School District, Village of Buchanan and all other entities that rely heavily on their tax revenue will survive.

Predictably, Entergy responded to the aftermath following Witt’s report as being “knee jerk” but with that kind of reaction it once again proved how it either has its head in the sand or just doesn’t give a damn about the lives of the people its reactors are jeopardizing.

Witt’s report didn’t say anything that wasn’t already known. It just reinforced what has been said ad nauseam, and what keeps going in and out of the ears of Entergy, the NRC, FEMA and everyone else who feels Indian Point isn’t a threat.

If it takes the words of a former federal official to close the gates, so be it but the case to shut down the plants has been made many times already.

Maybe this time those that have the power to make it happen will finally listen.

This article originally appeared in North Country News