“As a recent editorial in The Journal News stated, a report from the National Academy of Science gives Rockland residents good reason to worry about Indian Point. With the plant’s license coming up for renewal, citizens have an ideal opportunity to let the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission know that we do not want Indian Point to operate for 20 more years.

Polls show that most area residents want to see this nuclear plant decommissioned. Both the Rockland Legislature and county executive have already opposed license renewal, as has the Town of Ramapo. It’s time for the NRC to respect the decisions made by an overwhelming majority of our elected local officials.

Indian Point has been forced upon the people who live and work in the Hudson Valley. It’s easy to blame Entergy, a corporation with a hefty advertising budget and a propensity to distort facts. But it’s the regulatory agencies, the NRC in particular, that have failed the public. In fact, Indian Point would have been shut years ago if the NRC were fulfilling its mission “to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety, to promote the common defense and security and to protect the environment.” Instead, the NRC has become a dogged promoter of the nuclear power industry, bending its own safety rules in order to accommodate nuclear power companies, at our expense. These are some examples:

• License renewal protocol allows the NRC to exempt older plants from newer, safer standards. Indian Point could not win approval today because updated rules prohibit nuclear plants from being built in highly populated areas, or on earthquake fault lines, like the one which runs under Indian Point.

• Nuclear plants aren’t built to last for more than 30 years. Now 40 years old, Indian Point needs crucial repairs; many of its problems can’t be fixed.

• After Sept. 11, the NRC refused to add terrorist threats to its licensing guidelines; security at Indian Point remains minimal. There isn’t even a no-fly zone over the plant. No one, not Entergy, the NRC, Homeland Security or the Pentagon, claims responsibility for defending the plant from a terrorist strike.

• County legislatures surrounding the plant refuse to approve the existing emergency evacuation plan because it can’t protect us from “unacceptable doses of radiation.” (Source: the Witt Report, an independent study prepared by a former FEMA director at the request of Gov. Pataki.) The NRC has dismissed the Witt Report’s findings and ignored our legislators’ decisions.

• Indian Point is a nuclear waste dump, a virtual Yucca Mountain on the Hudson. Used radioactive fuel rods are stored on site in an unprotected area. The National Academy of Science finds this arrangement to be extremely vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The NRC insists that the plant is secure even though the radiation from one fuel rod fire could make Rockland uninhabitable.

Terror threats aside, why accumulate 20 more years’ worth of radioactive waste with at least a 30,000-year shelf life? Nuclear power might not create greenhouse gas, but nuclear waste poses an uncertain and prodigious risk.

• The plant’s boiling waste water has killed billions of fish in the Hudson, putting Entergy in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Almost as troubling as the NRC’s neglect is the insurance industry’s stance on nuclear accidents. If nuclear energy is so safe, why won’t insurance companies, experts at estimating odds, cover damages from nuclear accidents? The U.S. Senate even had to pass a law capping liability for nuclear power companies at $93 billion, less than it cost to clean up, but not rebuild, the World Trade Center after 9/11.

Finally, while we tend to dwell on disaster scenarios, significant threats to our lives from Indian Point arise from small-scale, daily incidents that often go unnoticed. Tests on baby teeth show that radioactive emissions are higher than once believed. And just this winter, a truck traveling from Indian Point to a storage facility in the South leaked enough radioactive material to warrant an NRC report. How many unsuspecting motorists were exposed to that radiation?

And, as a result, how many of those people might be diagnosed in years to come with a cancer of mysterious origin?

It’s time to hold the NRC accountable and remove this threat from the Hudson Valley. Rockland Friends United for Safe Energy (Rockland FUSE) is an independent, nonpartisan group the mission of which is to replace Indian Point with safe and affordable energy. In the coming months, Rockland FUSE will be circulating petitions opposing license renewal. We will also be bringing resolutions to every town, village, and school board in the county that ask the NRC not to renew Entergy’s license.

Rockland FUSE invites readers to join the discussion about sensible energy for Rockland’s future. We can schedule meetings with groups to answer questions about Indian Point and replacing it with safe, sustainable, affordable energy. With everyone’s help we can shut Indian Point. Learn how to get involved.

Leave contact information at RocklandCloseIP@yahoo.com, or call 1 888-I SHUT IT. We note that the NRC’s annual public meeting will be in Peekskill this Tuesday, May 10.”

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