“The warning sirens at Indian Point nuclear facility must be dependable. Yet they’ve failed three times in less than a month.

This erratic situation can’t continue. Residents need to know if Indian Point is running correctly, and, more importantly, if there’s a problem. Right now, the siren notification system is the only way the plant can communicate with citizens.

In two cases, the system failed because of power outages. In one instance, the system’s telephone lines failed.

The power outages, in one case, knocked the entire 156-siren system offline for six hours, the other rendered 20 of the sirens out of commission. The problems with the telephone lines weren’t even discovered by the operators at Indian Point. It was initially revealed during routine testing by Rockland County officials.

Following the weeklong problem with the telephone lines, county, safety and Entergy officials met with the plant’s phone operators to ensure constant monitoring of the system. Also, phone technicians have pledged to respond quickly once problems are detected. Such basic safety features should have already been in place.

Handling of problems must be improved

In the past, phone line problems occurred, but calls to the counties informed them of the problem and they were fixed without requiring any extensive documentation about the problem. Such situations must be handled more seriously and professionally.

Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which runs the facility, is finally looking into installing a backup system for when the power goes out, as well as alternative notification plans. The fact Entergy is only willing to address the situation now, after the latest failures, reflects poorly on the company’s notification commitment. People have been seeking a backup system since the plant opened, but their concerns have been met with indifference.

Entergy’s priorities must include monitoring the phone lines and getting a backup energy source for power failures. Then, the company can investigate other ways to notify residents, including possible Internet notification, reverse 911 calls or wireless notification. Neighbors deserve no less.”

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