“Mr. R. David Paulison
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Dear Acting Director Paulison:
We are writing today in reference to the recent decisions of Westchester,
Rockland, and Orange Counties to refuse to certify the emergency response
plans for the Indian Point Energy Center. In light of these decisions,
which these Counties have made based upon assessments of how to best protect
their residents, we are asking you to release the criteria that you plan to
use in making your own decision on certifying the plans. Based upon a
preponderance of evidence that the plans are fundamentally inadequate, we
urge you to refuse to certify them until adequate response plans are put in
The Gulf Coast hurricanes of last year convincingly demonstrated that a
large scale evacuation of densely populated areas is extremely difficult.
The Federal government’s failure to provide timely assistance did nothing to
inspire further confidence, and the challenges posed by the number of people
and unique geography of the area surrounding Indian Point make the orderly
and successful implementation of the current emergency plan impossible. It
is time the agency recognize what local officials have known all along: the
existing emergency response plans would not protect the public in the event
of a nuclear catastrophe at Indian Point.
As you know, a thorough review of emergency preparedness at Indian Point
completed by former FEMA Director James Lee Witt uncovered glaring
deficiencies. The logistical challenges that could result from traffic
congestion during an evacuation were recently laid bare by wind storms that
swept the New York area last week. When one major artery was compromised,
ramifications were felt on roadways miles away. While this storm
constituted an emergency in and of itself, the demonstrated limitations of
the transportation system around Indian Point concern us even more. If
traffic complications that are minor in comparison with an evacuation can
result in the gridlock witnessed during these wind storms, it is clear that
the consequences of ordering an evacuation with any roadway closures or
delays would be catastrophic.
Refusing to acknowledge the flaws in the emergency response plans is
dangerously irresponsible. We believe that FEMA must take action now to
acknowledge this problem and begin the process of seriously evaluating
Indian Point’s place in our community.
Public disclosure of your certification criteria and a refusal to certify in
the face of clear concern from local communities and officials would be
important first steps toward this end. We look forward to your response.