How much more warning of the dangers inherent in a nuke plant 40 miles outside of New York City is necessary? At the Indian Point nuclear power plant this week, the ongoing and seemingly insoluble case of the leaking nuke plant water continued as plant officials announced that water containing tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, and the carcinogenic strontium 90, had been found within 150 feet of the Hudson River. A recent National Academies of Science report confirmed that humans can be exposed to tritium through inhalation, absorption, and drinking contaminated water.

Strontium 90 enters human bodies through cow¹s milk, water, and fruits and vegetables grown in soil exposed to radioactive runoff.

Although plant officials downplay the health threat, just what do the regulating government agencies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency think is safe?

Add this to the long list of follies and fumbles that the plant has had over its long and unillustrious history, first under the management of Con Ed and now under the helm of the Louisiana-based corporation, Entergy Nuclear Northeast.

Compounding this is the ongoing embarrassment of an evacuation plan that has been deemed unworkable by county executives in all of the counties surrounding the plant, as well as the topic of a scathing report by James Lee Witt, the former FEMA director (when FEMA worked!) appointed by Gov.

George Pataki to study the plan. While Entergy officials scramble to get working sirens in place, they continue to ignore the fact that the evacuation plan only covers towns within a 10-mile radius of the plant, ignoring all the rest of us in Westchester.

How many of us are aware that refugees from a possible radioactive disaster are supposed to be bused to Fox Lane, where they are supposed to shower down and find shelter? How many of us are aware that according to the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, the plant is not even prepared to withstand an attack from more than 19 attackers, and even the strongest reinforced concrete area of the containment dome is not tested for a crash or attack from a fully loaded jumbo jet? The casks that store the radioactive fuel rods only last 30 years, and there are still no workable plans for a storage facility elsewhere.

Sadly, the public has little to no role in the process of recertifying the plant, which is governed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. There is no popular vote or referendum. The towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge have both called for a plant shutdown ‹ Bedford¹s call coming at a town board meeting in December 2001, and Pound Ridge taking measures in 2003. County officials, including County Executive Andy Spano and the Westchester County Board of Legislators, seek decommissioning, as have Senator Hillary Clinton and Rep. Nita Lowey. While Rep. Sue Kelly has fallen short of seeking decommissioning, Mrs. Kelly called on Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff to explain FEMA’s reasoning for approving an emergency plan that she and many other residents and local officials in the communities surrounding Indian Point view as fundamentally flawed. She called on Mr. Chertoff to organize a summit among federal, state, and local officials to reassess FEMA’s emergency preparedness plans at Indian Point and resolve what she calls “glaring weaknesses.”

“My constituents are understandably apprehensive about FEMA’s ability to lead on this issue,” said Mrs. Kelly at hearings in Washington.

Apprehensive? We’re scared s—less. The residents of northern Westchester are terrified of a potential disaster at Indian Point, whether it be through the contamination of our waters, the tainting of our land and soil, the effects of nuclear fallout, or even the panic that could ensue from a botched evacuation.

On the “evacuation supplies checklist” were about 28 items that included medicines, baby supplies, clothing, hygiene items, money, identification papers, sleeping bags, radio, KI tablets, bottled water, and an emergency planning booklet. There were no radiation suits, protective gear, Geiger counters, or other consumer-type radiation detectors. Message to Westchester residents: good luck.

P.S. Anyone remember when Indian Point used to be an amusement park?

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