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HARTFORD — Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is afraid a disaster at the nuclear-power complex in New York’s Westchester County could paralyze evacuation corridors for nearly 12 million people in New Jersey, New York and southwestern Connecticut.
He asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency Monday to arrange public hearings on the issue and reconsider approval of an emergency-preparedness plan for a 50-mile radius around the two power plants, which provide 2,000 megawatts.
Blumenthal said the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes should have taught FEMA officials the highways such as Interstates 95 and 84 would become parking lots if there is a region-wide evacuation.
But a spokesman for the Indian Point Energy Center near Peekskill, N.Y., said the two reactors are safe and Blumenthal is erroneously trying to compare widespread hurricane damage with a nuclear accident or attack on the two plants at Indian Point.
James Steets, manager of external communications at Indian Point, said in a Monday interview Blumenthal “has no clue” and is merely trying to score political points. But Judd Everhart, a spokesman for Gov. M. Jodi Rell, said the governor agrees with Blumenthal on the need to review plans for the 50-mile emergency zone.
That zone consists of an arc that stretches from New Haven on the east, through Litchfield County, up the Hudson River past Kingston, most of northern New Jersey, New York City and the eastern third of Long Island.
Blumenthal, during a news conference, warned that Indian Point, along the Hudson River in Buchanan, N.Y, is inadequately prepared for a radiological emergency that could affect 11.8 million people in the tri-state area, including hundreds of thousands in Connecticut.
“What we have at Indian Point essentially is a disaster waiting to happen,” Blumenthal said. “Right now we have a plan that’s completely false and dangerous in the assumptions about what evacuation is possible and what warning will be given,” Blumenthal said.
Displaying a regional map, Blumenthal said the 50-mile radius includes some of the most clogged interstate highways in the nation. Connecticut cities including Danbury, Bridgeport and Stamford would be massively affected.
“Population would move from New York areas into Connecticut and we have essentially a plan that dates from 1996 without significant revision,” Blumenthal said. “We’re saying to FEMA, ‘Learn from your mistakes; don’t miscalculate again.’ We need a real plan and not the kind we saw in Rita and Katrina.”
Blumenthal said it is FEMA’s responsibility to have effective plans, adding that New York state has not issued a letter of certification since 2003 because counties around Indian Point have not approved an evacuation plan.