News

“Certification Letter Submitted Despite New Concerns With Emergency Plan”

“Riverkeeper, along with the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, are urging Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi to retract his county’s 2005 Annual Certification Letter (ACL) for the Indian Point radiological emergency preparedness plan. For the second year in a row, Putnam County has submitted its ACL despite grave flaws in the emergency plans as identified in the 2003 New York State-commissioned report by Witt & Associates. The Indian Point nuclear power plant is located in Buchanan, NY, just 24 miles north of New York City.

New concerns about the evacuation plan’s ability to protect the public have arisen due to recent malfunctions of the Indian Point siren systems. They have failed to rotate during recent tests, and it has recently been discovered that there is no back-up power to operate them in an emergency.

Alex Matthiessen, executive director of the Putnam-based environmental group Riverkeeper, said, “Indian Point provides little or no electricity and no tax benefit to Putnam County residents and yet they are being asked to assume substantial risk to their safety and are footing the bill for an emergency plan that is patently flawed and unworkable. County Executive Bondi cannot in good conscience continue to lend credence to the notion that Indian Point’s emergency plan will protect his constituents. We urge him to retract his certification letter and join his fellow executives from other surrounding counties in refusing to certify that the plan is adequate to protect public health and safety.”

Every January, the four counties within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) of Indian Point – Westchester, Rockland, Orange, and Putnam – must determine whether the emergency evacuation plan is adequate to protect the public from a radioactive release at Indian Point. In 2002 Governor Pataki hired James Lee Witt, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation of the REPP for Indian Pont. The report, released in early 2003, concluded that the plan is seriously flawed and especially not adequate to protect the public against a fast-breaking radioactive release. Since the release of the report, no substantive changes have been made to address a plan that is widely viewed as unworkable.

Upon the 2003 release of the Witt Report, all four EPZ counties refused to submit their ACL’s; the NY State Emergency Management Office, respecting county “home rule,” followed suit and refused to submit certification papers to the FEMA. In 2004 Putnam County was the only body to submit the paperwork for the evacuation plan.

Mark Jacobs, spokesman for the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, said, “As long as Indian Point continues to operate on the banks of the Hudson River, the public is at risk. As the county’s highest elected official, Mr. Bondi’s first priority must be to protect the communities he represents. Given the grave problems with the plan, Putnam residents are sitting ducks in the event of an accident at Indian Point, and yet Mr. Bondi has once again chosen to back Indian Point’s owner over his own constituents.”

While Putnam County’s predominantly Republican Board of Legislators has consistently rejected certification and supported the call for Indian Point’s closure, County Executive Bondi has not. In his September 10, 2003 budget address, Bondi supported Indian Point’s continued operation and praised Entergy, the plant’s owner.”

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