“As I inched my way across the span of Interstate 10 that took me west of New Orleans at a nerve-racking 0.2 miles per hour on Aug. 28, I couldn’t help but think that I would never make it out alive. There I was, moving at a snail’s pace, in the midst of an emergency, over a highway eight lanes wide in most parts. While I was hopelessly stuck in Louisiana, my mind was wandering a little closer to home — to good old Indian Point.
How have we, the citizens affected by these problems, allowed our government to play dodge ball with us on issues that, however exaggerated they may be, paint an apocalyptic picture of our back yards? At the risk of politicizing an issue of our safety and well-being, I cannot help but pose this question to everyone living within the 10-mile evacuation zone around the Indian Point complex, including Gov. George Pataki, a resident of Garrison. I would include Rep. Sue Kelly, a resident of Katonah, which lies just outside the danger zone. I know that those concerned with these issues are often marginalized as a collection of radicals or tree-hugging hippies who have no regard for pragmatism, but in all seriousness, what is being done to ensure our safety?
Displaced until January from Tulane Law School, I now work in a public school in northern Westchester. As part of a government-mandated safety protocol, we are responsible for carrying out a certain number of emergency drills each year to simulate a disaster at Indian Point. A drill, as I’ve learned to understand the term, is a sort of practice — a way of perfecting one’s response to a situation should that situation arise. What would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic is that these drills are not at all practice because everyone participating in them knows very well that the real thing will go down very differently. We may be kidding ourselves to think that bus drivers will be there to transport our students to safety. We may be kidding ourselves to think that teachers and administrators will remain on-site to ensure the safety of their students and not run off to ensure the safety of their own families. We are definitely insane, however, to think that the word “plan” would mean anything in the wake of an event at Indian Point.
Such plans seem to be our government’s response to Indian Point: “Don’t worry about that ticking time bomb in your back yard, sir, for should it go off, we’ve drawn a map of which roads you should take to escape.”
If all eight lanes of I-10 didn’t cut it, how in the world is Route 6 or the Taconic going to measure up?
It is our duty and obligation as citizens, as taxpayers and as potential victims to ask more of our leaders — perhaps to lead. Rep. Kelly’s Web site does not mention the Indian Point complex even once, not even on a page titled “Working to help Westchester County.”
I realize the risk of a disastrous event at Indian Point is probably small, but the magnitude of such an event means any risk at all is too much risk for us to bear the burden of. We want to know that the plant is secure. We want to know that the materials used in the plant are secure. We want to know that there’s a better answer to containment and accidents than an embarrassing evacuation plan.
Now, really, is that too much to ask?“