Legislators upset with County Executive over slow responses to document requests

At its January 9, 2007 meeting, the Putnam County Legislature’s Health, Social Educational & Environmental Committee focused on concerns over Indian Point and the support of a resolution supporting legislation arising from those concerns.

Environmental activist Judy Allen discussed legislation introduced in both Houses of the U.S. Congress that mandates that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conduct an Independent Safety Assessment on the “vital systems of Indian Point” and “require FEMA to justify, with specificity, its approval of the Indian Point evacuation plan” despite findings by a report issued by James Lee Witt Associates that the plan was inadequate. The report had been commissioned by NY State to evaluate the ability of Indian Point’s off-site emergency plan to protect the public from a release of radiation from the plant.

The resolution that was passed by the members of the Health Committee will now move to a vote before the full county Legislature in February and supports the federal legislation that mandates for Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 a “vertical slice” of all operating systems; a “horizontal” review of all plant maintenance; that the review be conducted by independent experts and monitored by local officials, and that there be a “rigorous” reevaluation of the of the feasibility of the Indian Point evacuation plan. The “vertical slice” and “horizontal” review, Chairman Sam Oliverio explained, refer to exceptionally thorough and all-encompassing assessments and evaluations of all aspects of the plant.

Legislator Regina Morini asked about the state of the roads in Putnam Valley, citing the number of two-lane roads, adding that in 25 years roads have not been repaired and, currently, Putnam Valley is preventing the County from repairing Peekskill Hollow Road. Morini asked whether the Town “is willing to take action on this so that people can escape properly?” Legislator Oliverio said that it is not only the condition of that particular road, but the width, expanding the comment to include the width of roads in Philipstown. Legislator Vinny Tamagna added that the “infrastructure is not made to handle the evacuation of 20 million people. It’s impossible.”

Allen returned the conversation to Indian Point itself and incidents such as leaking that could contaminate groundwater, saying they were not talking about terrorists but about day-to-day maintenance and issues that should be rectified before Entergy receives another 20-year license.

In other business, the Committee had planned on receiving an update on the Recycling Center but was unable to do so because documents expected from the County Executive’s office had not been received. Discussion quickly turned toward resolution of delays in receiving relevant documents from the Executive branch of the county government.

Chairman Oliverio expressed his exasperation, noting that this was not the first time they did not have the documents they needed in order to proceed with a discussion. He then requested Legislature Chairman Dan Birmingham “force the issue” of non-compliance with document requests. Oliverio explained that this instance represented one of several recent and different document requests to the Executive branch, which seemed to have been agreed to but were not subsequently provided.

Oliverio received permission from the Committee to send a letter to County Executive Bondi requesting, for the third time, updates on the Recycling Center.

The Committee also noted two “FYI” items, with no fiscal impact, in which two transfers were made: one to reflect an expense over and above routine maintenance, specific to a septic system repair completed during the summer of 2006, the second a reflection of a grant award from the State in connection with a AAA Transportation Program that was appropriated for a gasoline chargeback.

The February meeting of the Health, Social, Educational & Environmental Committee will be posted on the PCN&R’s website as soon as it becomes available.”

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