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Indian Point (Nuclear Power Station)

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

Indian Point is a nuclear power station operating in New York state. The station, which is owned by Entergy, operates two Westinghouse pressurized light water reactors. In November 2006, Entergy announced that it was seeking the relicensing of the plant for 20 years. [1]

Safety problems

In August 2007, the New York Times reported on Entergy's problems with getting its "new $15 million emergency siren system up and running" at the Indian Point nuclear power station in New York. "The sirens are meant to alert residents within 10 miles of the plant of an emergency," explained the Times. But, during testing, "sirens that were supposed to be heard miles away were inaudible in several areas. Alarms that were meant to be tested silently blared unexpectedly, startling residents who had not been warned." [2]

"The system was supposed to be working by the end of January [2007]. Entergy received a 75-day extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). But on April 12, three days before the second target date, 31 sirens failed to sound during a test. After Entergy missed the April deadline, the N.R.C. fined the company $130,000." The third deadline was August 24, which Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the company was "confident we’ll make it." [3]

The siren problems "come in the midst of Entergy’s application to renew the nuclear power plants' licenses for another 20 years," noted the Times. "Indian Point 2's license expires in 2013, Indian Point 3's in 2015." Yet, "the siren problem has no bearing on the relicensing." [4]

On August 31, 2007, the New York Times reported that Entergy "had missed its third deadline for installing the [emergency siren] system and could face fines." [5]

In January 2008, the NRC proposed a $650,000 fine against Indian Point, for not meeting the "deadline to install new emergency warning sirens with backup power supplies." The fine is "10 times the normal size" of such sanctions, reported the New York Times, with possible additional fines if the safety requirements are not met "in a timely manner." [1]

In March 2009, four Democratic U.S. Representatives from New York wrote the NRC, asking for an investigation of a water leak at the plant. Representatives John Hall, Maurice Hinchey, Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel wrote, "The leak, and its apparently serendipitous discovery, demonstrates not only serious deterioration in the physical plant of IPEC [Indian Point Energy Center] but it also calls into question whether IPEC has a program for dealing with its aging infrastructure. ... In our view, the possible leaking of radioactive material from an aging plant which is undergoing relicensing warrants a comprehensive investigation by the NRC." Indian Point's Jerry Nappi said the water leak contained tritium at "one tenth of what the [Environmental Protection Agency] says you can drink. ... It was not even close to being a safety issue." [2]

Relicensing debate

On November 30, 2007, the state of New York filed a 313-page petition with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), asking the agency "to deny an application to extend the license of the Indian Point nuclear reactors, citing 'a long and troubling history of problems.'" Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo remarked, "I believe Indian Point should be closed and it should be closed now." The New York Times reported that NRC officials "could not recall a previous occasion when a state had tried to intervene in a license-extension proceeding to block the extension." The license for the nuclear power complex's reactor 2 reactor expires in 2013, and for reactor 3 in 2015. [3]

Nuclear industry consultant Patrick Moore claimed "there was 'a logical inconsistency' in the argument being presented by opponents of the plant. Mr. Moore said the goal of shutting Indian Point and of reducing carbon emissions were 'mutually exclusive' in a time of concern over global warming. He added that if the reactors were shut, the logical substitute would be two new ones." [3]

In March 2008, the NRC held a hearing about the Indian Point applications to extend the plants' licenses by 20 years. The hearing was "the first time that a state had stepped forward to flatly oppose license renewals," reported Matthew Wald. "[F]or the opponents -- the state, Westchester County and several environmental groups -- to win the day, they would have to persuade the panel and the regulatory agency itself to reconsider what arguments are admissible. ... The commission has ruled that for an argument to be considered in license extension hearings, it must deal with problems that may arise because the license is extended. The state contends, however, that the region’s extraordinary population density, when considered together with the threat of terrorism or earthquake, makes the plants unsafe." However, the NRC contends that the plant's location or past security record can not be considered in relicensing hearings. [4]

In September 2008, the NRC announced that it was extending its review of Indian Point's license renewal application by four months. In a press release, the NRC said extra time was needed to prepare two reports, the the draft Safety Evaluation Report and the draft Environmental Impact Statement. The latter was delayed because of the "exceptionally high number of public comments received on the scope of the staff’s environmental review for the application." [5]

In February 2009, Congressman Eliot Engel urged the NRC not to approve Indian Point's license renewal application. Engel said he told NRC Commissioner Dale Klein, "Indian Point would never be built today at its present location because of its proximity to the millions of people in the New York metropolitan area. It is degrading the Hudson River by using its water, some two billion gallons daily, to cool the plant, and by the radioactive leakages that may have already reached the river." Engel also argued that Indian Point is "a very tempting target for terrorist," and said there are "too many other serious issues about the dangers of Indian Point’s nuclear reactors to ignore." [6]

In April 2009, Entergy hired the Breaux Lott Leadership Group PR firm, to "deal with nuclear issues as the license of its Indian Point facility ... is up for renewal." The firm's leadership, former U.S. Senators John Breaux and Trent Lott, will work on the Entergy account, along with their sons. "A round of raucous public hearings is expected" as part of Indian Point's license renewal application, according to the trade publication O'Dwyer's. [7]

Safety panel

In March 2008, Entergy announced the formation of an "Independent Safety Evaluation" panel, to "provide public assurances about the operation and protection of New York's largest nuclear power facility." Entergy selected panel co-chairs Drs. James Rhoades and Neil Todreas. The co-chairs then recruited the other ten panel members. The environmental group Riverkeeper and local elected officials questioned the independence of the panel, since Entergy is paying panel members. [8]

The Indian Point panel's media contact is Matthew Simmons of Potomac Communications Group. [8] On behalf of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Potomac PR firm previously ghost-wrote pro-nuclear op/eds that appeared in newspapers across the country. The Austin Chronicle, which reported the campaign, called it "Big Nuke's vast op-ed conspiracy: a decades-long, centrally orchestrated plan to defraud the nation's newspaper readers by misrepresenting the propaganda of one hired atomic gun as the learned musings of disparate academics and other nuclear-industry 'experts.'" [9]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Matthew Wald, "$650,000 Fine Urged for Indian Point Owner," New York Times, January 25, 2008.
  2. Alexa James, "U.S. Reps demand investigation at Indian Point," Times Herald-Record (Middletown, New York), March 13, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 John Sullivan and Matthew L. Wald, "Citing Past Troubles at Indian Point, State Urges Panel to Deny License Extension," New York Times, December 4, 2007.
  4. Matthew L. Wald, "Foes of Indian Point Begin Legal Battle," New York Times, March 11, 2008.
  5. Press release, "NRC Extends Review Schedule for Indian Point License Renewal Application," Nuclear Regulatory Commission, September 2, 2008.
  6. "Engel tells NRC chief that Indian Point license should not be renewed," Mid-Hudson News Network, February 14-15, 2009.
  7. "Entergy Plus into Breaux Lott," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), April 7, 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Diane Farsetta, "Indian Point on the Potomac: Entergy's New Safety Panel and PR Firm," Center for Media and Democracy, April 2, 2008.
  9. William D. Adler, "Will Shill for Nukes", The Austin Chronicle, April 16, 2004.

External resources

External articles