Posted by: Dawn Powell | June 7, 2011

Close Indian Point

This past Thursday, the NRC came to Cortlandt to tell us all that Indian Point is safe.  A few people
believed them – not many.

If you missed it, you missed one of the best public meetings I have ever attended.  The reps from the
NRC started with a presentation that meant almost nothing.  Green indicators, matrices, an unplanned
scram at the beginning of the year.  Huh?

The first person who shouted out said, “How about a moment of silence for the victims of Fukushima?”
It was a reasonable request, but the panelists just said that they would shut down the meeting if the outbursts continued.  Two were inspectors who go to the plant daily to conduct safety inspections were on the panel.  There were six panelists in all.  They were short on detail and big on attempts at big biz reassurances, but no one was buying. Plus, if they thought this was a raucous crowd, they haven’t ever faced a really hostile crowd.  There was real disagreement, but no threatening behavior.

After a little while with the reprimands, and the strange power point, the gentlemen at the end, David Lew, opted for a 5 minute break.  I thought that would be the end of it.  But in a really good move, the NRC panel decided to open it up to the floor.  Speakers had signed up, and there were more than 80 of them.  Whether or not the NRC was listening, the speakers were terrific.  They were informed, passionate, and empowering.

While Mr. Lew took over most of the moderation, he answered some questions, but his answers were not clear or persuasive.  When asked about the gas line that is near the plant and the two fault lines, he said that the gas line was some distance away.    Hmmmm….how far is that?

He responded to a question about exemptions (from the licensing rules) that there is no list of exemptions granted for all plants.  Recently, Indian Point was granted an exemption regarding fire protection.

People brought up the evacuation plan and the ten mile evacuation zone, when it was they themselves who recommended that Americans evacuate 50 miles around Fukushima. The Putnam County legislature would not certify the plant’s emergency plan, so for all of us, only Bob Bondi approved it.  One man.
Now there’s a system that didn’t work.

The panel had tried to tell us that all safety standards are met, but plants are regularly shut down, and we know that there have been constant leaks.

The spent, but still lethal, fuel rods are stored onsite, in pools of water.  Not very impressive.  Even in Fukushima, they had the foresight to enclose those fuel rods in the core of the reactor.  That is not the case for us.  And of course, we still do not have any solution to the radioactive waste.

I was surprised that one of their slides stated that the plant is designed to withstand any possible event.  I was also surprised when a member of the public mentioned that the NRC does not accept all of the Lamont – Doherty report.  They are the research geologists at Columbia University, who advise just about everyone.  They
have said that we could have a 6.0 earthquake, and that the plant is only designed for a 5.0.  I would think that
with 2 faults, one could have an earthquake, and excite the other one, and the cumulative effect would be mind-boggling.

There are more of us than here than there were in Fukushima, and that accident seems too catastrophic for people to have created.

The panel tried to tell us that the Japanese meltdown would not affect us, but it already has.
Someone said that this event was a global event, not a local one. A group of women got up and sang – the Raging Grannies.  Even the NRC panelists were smiling.  I thought of John Cohen, our own Putnam Valley protest singer.  I was grateful to know that there are a group of activists waiting for me when I get there.

Ellen Jaffee, Assemblywoman from Rockland gave a rousing speech, and got the crowd on its feet.

If you haven’t heard Paul Gallay, the director of Riverkeeper, speak about Indian Point, Philip Musegaas, the attorney who has spoken at the public hearings about relicensure, or Mike Kaplowitz, who has
repeatedly asked the NRC to meet with the Westchester County legislature, make it a point.  They are so well informed and impressive.

It turns out that only 5% of the electricity generated from this dangerous, privately owned plant goes to Westchester and NYC.  (Putnam County gets nothing.) We can live without it.  It turns out that
decommissioning the plant will create enough jobs that we don’t have to worry about the job loss.

The NRC panel told us that they only determine the safety of the plant.  They do not set policy.  Just like the Peekskill Hollow Road project, once these things are set in motion, no one takes responsibility.  After Shoreham was closed down by local activism, and state politicians, they changed the rules so that we have no
say.  They can change them again.

They will not consider the evacuation plan in relicensing.  They will not require today’s more stringent standards in relicensing. So far, they will not consider the fish in relicensing.  The fish were not a big part of the meeting, but to cool the plant, they suck them into the cooling system, and kill them, huge numbers of them. They have never refused to relicense.

It is time.  Close Indian Point.

We don’t need a Fukushima on the Hudson.




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