Monday, September 5, 2011

How Long Can New York Dodge The Double Barrel Shotgun That Is Indian Point?`

Indian Point...Our Chernobyl On The Hudson

Earlier this year a major earthquake coupled with a Tsunami caused the worst nuclear reactor accident the world has ever seen, Chernobyl paling in comparison to the nuclear fallout that has been and is being experienced after the TEPCO company experienced nuclear meltdowns of both reactors and spent fuel pools at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan. Just a few weeks ago the East Coast of America experienced an unexpected 5.8 on the Richter Scale earthquake that forced the shutdown of the North Anna plants owned by Dominion initial reports, the company, much like TEPCO lied about the severity of the damage at these reactors, telling both the NRC and the public that everything was fine.

Entergy, TEPCO, Dominion Power...THEY ALL CHEAT...can we risk that?

Not surprisingly, Dominion has not always operated lawfully. The energy giant has been subject to a slew of lawsuits and government violations. In its quest to perpetually increase profits, the effect of this corporate behemoth’s operations on the health and welfare of the public is notalways taken into consideration. For example, Dominion skimped on costly pollution-control equipment at one of its fossil-fuel power plants—a violation of federal clean air laws—and ultimately agreed on a billion-dollar settlement with the federal government over the infraction.

But the ability of regulators to keep Dominion in check is not absolute; indeed, the integrity of state officials has, in many instances, been compromised by the power of Dominion and other large energy companies. The company is even trumping its government regulators in the state of Virginia by pushing through legislation that the regulators themselves say is bad for consumers of electricity.

Almost two weeks later we found out that everything was not EXACTLY FINE. Twenty Five of the Twenty Seven 100 Ton Dry Cask storage units set on a concrete pad to cool for thousands of years had moved during the earthquake...something the industry and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission believed (wrongly) could never happen, though anti-nuclear activists had warned both industry and the supposed experts at the NRC of this very possibility for years...especially in regards to such dilapidated reactor sites as the Indian Point Reactors (owned by Entergy) that sit atop not one, but two earthquake faults.

When we have made claims that a major earthquake, or significant storm surge could see these poorly designed and engineered Dry Cask storage units, each filled with 20 times more radioactive wastes than Hiroshima, could be floating down the proverbial river, we were accused of being alarmists of the worst kind. When we have laid out an almost identical accident scenario as the one that took out the TEPCO reactors should New York take a direct hit by a major Hurricane, we again were chastised as alarmist, and yet we just missed that exact scenario when Hurricane Irene weakened before coming on shore this past Sunday.

We in the Anti-Nuclear movement have been portrayed as alarmists, our accident scenarios dismissed as all but mathematically impossible to occur. Yet, the NRC commission is now signaling the industry to expect a “generic letter” to all 104 nuclear power plants requesting a new evaluation of the manner in which earthquakes were analyzed and incorporated into their designs...first, lets not request new evaluations, lets demand them, and in an expedient fashion, as there is too much at stake, especially here in the New York area where millions of lives are being risked as the NRC plays Russian Roulette with the two poorly placed, poorly designed reactors known as Indian Point.

Let us as example go back to the original licensing of Indian Point...on a parallel track, but not yet approved, Earthquake criteria were being formulated and moving through the process of approval. Indian Point's license was approved prior to the official adoption of these rules, and thus they did not have to meet them...if they had, said reactors would not now be sitting on the edge of the Hudson River just 24 miles from Manhattan. Additionally, the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster has shown us that the industry's nuclear fallout modeling is completely off base and unrealistic. In just three days, radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Accident had reached Tokyo, some 180 miles from the epicenter of the disaster, which is almost four times the 50 mile fallout circle established for a significant incident here in America. All of this should be great cause for alarm as the NRC moves to approve a re-licensing of Indian Point's two functioning reactors.

Indian Point has some very serious problems that the NRC has been effectively ignoring for decades now. The three nuclear plants on the site have miles of underground pipes and conduits-most of these are encased in concrete are completely inaccessible to inspections, and though the NRC does not want you too know this, extremely vulnerable should and earthquake occur. Virtually all three of these aging plants have leaked massive amounts of radioactive water into the surrounding environment, though the NRC protects its licensee by falsely claiming said radiated materials have not contaminated the potable drinking waters of the state of NY.

Fact is, New York’s Indian Point plants have continuously leaked into what amounts to a radioactive lake under the plants, about 25 miles north of New York City. These radioactive contaminates from a 300,000 gallon reservoir that IP 3 sits atop are steadily seeping into the Hudson River. Yet, when citizens file 2.206 petitions on these and other violations at the plant, such as the leaking fuel transfer channel for IP 2, nothing is done, Entergy being allowed to continue operating, being allowed to flout the rules and regulations, simply requesting another waiver/exemption every time they cannot meet the rules as they are written.

Many here in the Hudson River Valley have been led to believe we are safe, even if there is a significant incident or accident at Indian Point...fact is, we have been mislead, and it is time for us as citizens, as affected stakeholder communities to weigh into the issue, time for us to insist that the license renewal application for these two reactors be denied so that proper decommissioning can begin.

Some Important Facts

1. The Price Anderson Act precludes all citizens in America from getting insurance to cover losses from a serious nuclear incident such as the one that occurred in Japan earlier this year. We are told to believe that our government will step in through FEMA and make us whole again. FEMA is broke, and estimates should an accident occur at Indian Point show a price tag in excess of $500 Billion dollars.

  • The Price-Anderson Act bestows a twofold subsidy on the nuclear industry. First, the Act artificially limits the amount of primary insurance that nuclear operators must carry – an uncalculated indirect subsidy in terms of insurance premiums that they don’t have to pay. This distorts electricity markets by masking nuclear power’s unique safety and security risks, granting nuclear power an unfair and undesirable competitive advantage over safer energy alternatives. Second, Price-Anderson caps the liability of nuclear operators in the event of a serious accident or attack, leaving taxpayers on the hook for most of the damages. This makes capital investment in the nuclear industry more attractive to investors because their risk is minimized and fixed.
  • Consequently, the Act is a dual-edge sword for the public that it purportedly protects. The legislation was intended first of all to bolster investor confidence, whereas victim compensation is secondary. Price-Anderson establishes only phantom insurance for the public, then provides a real bailout mechanism for the nuclear energy industry by reducing its need to pay for insurance, subsidizing the industry at the taxpayers' expense.

2. The nuclear industry's finacial hit, through a collective insurance pool, should a major terrorist attack or accident at a nuclear facility occur is only $10 Billion dollars...barely two percent of the monies it would cost to make New York whole again if there is an accident at Indian Point.

3. Indian Point owned by Entergy does not, and cannot meet the current Earthquake criteria established for plant safety...the NRC is now admitting that those criteria may not be adequate to protect human health and the environment.

4. One of the planes that flew into the the World Trade Centers flew right past Indian Point on its way into Manhattan on that fateful day almost ten years much more tragic would 9/11 have been if one of those terrorists had flown their plane into one of Indian Points twin reactors, or had crashed directly into a spent fuel pool?

5. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted Indian Point exemptions from conducting some tests that they cannot pass until after they are relicensed...tests that would make them in ineligible for a license renewal.

The time has come for all New Yorkers to demand the full shut down and decommissioning of Indian Point...we simply have to much at stake to do otherwise.