Indian Point “Citizen Advisory Panel”
Please note that this is not a Citizens Oversight Board.
On March 29, 2019 Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker and Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi launched their own Community Advisory Panel or CAP. They used the old model that has not worked for either Maine or Vemont where the company pays for the panel and discloses what information it chooses. Representative of the company hold two voting seats on this panel. With few exceptions seats on the CAP mostly exclude “outsiders” from beyond Buchanan/Peekskill. There are two slots for environmental groups. The Supervisor and Mayor must approve both nominees for these positions. The composition of the panel makes it unlikely that independent scientists could participate.
At the press conference Supervisor Puglisi repeatedly stressed the CAP is just advisory, and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commissiom oversees the process. In reality the NRC oversees only what is radioactive leaving much of the site under company control. Puglisi repeated many times that decommissioning is a local matter under New York’s provision for Home Rule. “We live here and who better to protect our community, ” she said many times. Those appointed to the panel include the school superintendent and other men who represent different departments and organizations. She claimed that no legislation is required for this panel which means it could disappear after its closing date of 2007 or at the pleasure of future Superintendents. In contrast, deadly irradiated fuel rods will be on the property for untold years.
This surprise announcement was a grave disappointment to those working toward the establishment of a much more vigorous and permanent Citizens Oversight Board which would have been legislated into law. The decommissioning of Indian Point is a regional issue, just as the dangers of the still operating reactors are. Irradiated fuel rods contain plutonium and other radioactive isotopes that are deadly for 240,000 years. This is not a local matter.
It is most unfortunate that members of the CAP, who are new to this issue, and have not studied this matter extensively over the years will be relying on the decommissioning corporation for expenses and advice. They have concurred in setting up a process that will not adequately protect the public for the untold years the fuel rods will remain on site.
Those who have been working for the establishment of a better model tried repeatedly to reach out to the Superintendent and Mayor and were repeatedly stonewalled. We have been in contact with other legislators over the last two years working on a new model for decommissioning monitoring and reporting that would have empowered the public. It would have included monthly meetings, the ability and budget to solicit testimony from outside experts, excluded the corporation as a voting member and more. It would have functioned as other state supported oversight commities do. Most importantly, the COB was designed to develop accrate information by automatically receiving company documents and reports. After studying them and making recommendations they would have been presented to the public in open, transcribed meetings with time for public input. In contrast the CAP meets four times a year and will undoubtedly rely on reports from company members of the panel.
It is outrageous that this action establishing a clearly inferior monitoring process was taken unilaterally. Simple zoning changes receive more scrutiny and public hearings.
This subverts the democratic process and highlights the need some local politicians have for control. It calls into question any claims made for transparency, especially given the history of Task Force meetings where no public comment was allowed. Now questions may be submitted prior to the meeting before anyone has heard the report. Claiming to allow questions before a meeting when the results of the Task Force report are unknown is just another way to dodge informed public comment.
Cortlandt and Buchanan have chosen to take a business as usual route to a complex issue rather than debating a new model for decommissioning that could have set high standards for protecting our local communities and would have established what real decommissioning oversight looks like.
Min Tompkins says:
May 30, 2019
Members of the community are well able to serve on this board . After all, who cares more about the safety, security, environmental impact and efficiency of the decommissioning process more than those who live with this facility in their backyard? We will also be responsible for determining how the land is used after the process is complete. The notion that anyone from outside the area is somehow entitled to have a position on this board is just arrogant.
Marilyn Elie says:
Jul 8, 2019
There is no reason to assume that people living in Buchanan or Verplanck are in a better position to supervise the decommissioning of Indian Point than other people. In fact, people in both communities have profited from the reactors and believed the misinformation from the company for 40 years.
There is no reason to assume a committee set up to serve at the pleasure of a local politician and bankrolled by the company will even recognize accurate facts when they are presented.
Indian Point is a regional problem and needs a legislated body that includes a wide variety of stake holders both elected and appointed. Administrations come and go and a committee appointed by the local supervisor could easily disappear with the eventual reelection of a different politician.
The committee needs to have carefully thought out rotating seats for all of its members. People can then either apply for or be appointed to these slots. It is not acceptable to have all members appointed by two town supervisors with no input or direction from others. For example, what happens when those on the panel loose their election? How long can people serve? Who pays for the indipendent expert opinions that will be needed. Monthly meetings are a prerequisite, anything else is just a rubber stamp for what ever the company says.
Indian Point is a regional problem that endangers people in a 50 mile radius of the plant. It is the height of arrogance to assume otherwise.