“Have to hand it to Andrew Spano, the Westchester County executive. A lot of
public officials talk tough about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the
Indian Point nuclear plants and make noise about mothballing the edifices
along the Hudson; Spano actually sends his whipping-boy lawyers to the

Spanos’ lawyers last week filed a petition with the 2nd Circuit Court of
Appeals asking the panel to consider whether the always cozy NRC, in effect,
has been drinking the coolant at the plants in Buchanan. Spano complains
that the federal regulators have violated the Atomic Energy Act, the
National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and
abused their discretion in turning down to the county’s request that the
government make it harder for Indian Point to extend its operating permits
for an additional 20 years. His contention: If starting from scratch, no
government in its right mind would site a nuclear power plant in such an
ultra-congested, terrorist-favored region.

In December, the NRC determined that the extra scrutiny sought by the county
– pleas to factor in the area’s population density, the potential risk of
terrorism and the certain failure of evacuation plans – was unwarranted. “It
was summarily rejected, basically because they said they changed the
criteria in 2000, and nothing has happened since that would cause them to
revisit the issue,” said Spano. “Did they forget Sept. 11th ever happened?”

Not at all, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told staff writer Greg Clary: “We
consider emergency planning and security to be issues of paramount
importance, and that’s why we think it makes more sense to address them on a
continuous basis rather than during the snapshot period of time when a
company is seeking a license extension. The NRC has aggressively sought
improvements in those areas, especially since 9/11, and will continue to do

We don’t know enough about the federal statutes referenced by Spano to
conclude whether he is on to something; however, it should be plain to
anyone who has been stuck in the traffic jam of the hour in this hopelessly
congested region – or lived through 9/11 – that it makes sense to put all
issues on the table when considering the future of Indian Point. A
comprehensive review – something more than a paper-shuffling, summary denial
– would go a long way toward airing Spano’s and the public’s honestly held
concerns about the plants and our future in the Lower Hudson Valley. We
hope, with or without the court’s help, that such public discussion ensues.”

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