Editorials

“The Headlines Are Less Frequent but the Questions Remain” by Gary Shaw

“I recently read quotes from Jim Steets, the glib Indian Point spokesman, in which he makes light of the risks of Entergy moving tons of highly radioactive waste from their dangerously overfilled spent fuel pools into dry casks that will be placed on an open, football field sized concrete slab on their property. Whenever I hear Mr. Steets’ dismissive tone about a situation with the potential to contaminate the most densely populated area of the United States, I am reminded of the 2003 blackout when Governor Pataki stood before the press saying “the experts told me this couldn’t happen,” as electrical grids in two countries that spanned from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes went dark..  Entergy’s failure to responsibly acknowledge and reveal the risks associated with the operation of a nuclear power plant places the public at greater risk.  In order to deal with the risks of this plant, we need to know the facts and the truth.

To find the truth and garner some facts let’s ask some critical questions.  Why does the NRC say that the dry casks being used to store the deadly nuclear waste need only conform to the earthquake standards established forty years ago when residential and commercial construction standards have been updated to accommodate greater knowledge about natural disasters?  If Indian Point is so safe, why do their sirens require testing repeatedly to ensure that citizens can be alerted to radiological emergencies?  If nuclear plants are so safe, why won’t insurance companies insure your home against a radiation release?  If nuclear generating plants are so safe, why does the NRC require every plant to have a workable evacuation plan?  If our evacuation plan was workable, why did the only independent, comprehensive and government sponsored evaluation declare that the plan is inadequate to protect the public from an unacceptable dose of radiation?  Why did all four counties within the evacuation zone withhold certification of the plan after the Witt report was issued?  Why did FEMA and the NRC certify the evacuation plan on a day when a single accident on the George Washington Bridge left every major roadway in Westchester tied up for the entire day?  What would that traffic jam have been like if Indian Point’s sirens were wailing at that time?  Why is the evacuation plan only required for residents within 10-miles when the first public awareness of the Chernobyl radiation release came from Sweden ?  Why does Entergy say they will ask the government to reimburse them for moving the spent fuel into casks when Indian Point has a revenue stream of roughly $2 million per day?  Why are we continually asked to subsidize this profitable private industry?  Why is the public told that a single repository in Yucca Mountain will make storage of the deadly nuclear wastes safer, when additional wastes are produced every day at all the operating nuclear plants and must be kept on-site for years after removal from the reactor?

The Entergy PR campaign uses the phrase “safe, secure and vital.”  The plant can only be viewed as safe and secure until the unexpected happens like it did in February 2000 when radiation was released into the atmosphere, or September 11 when one of the hijacked planes flew right over Indian Point on its suicide mission to the World Trade Center, or just a few weeks ago when a control rod that is supposed to help control the chain reaction malfunctioned several times.  Let’s remember that Indian Point was not vital on those hot August days after the blackout, when energy was restored to the entire region but Indian Point remained offline for days while everyone’s air conditioners hummed and subways ran again.  And when Indian Point 2 remained offline for almost a year after the February 2000 radiation release, at a time when the economy was booming, we were able to clearly see that it is not vital.

As Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano has come to understand and say publicly, there are scenarios that can occur at Indian Point that could create unacceptable consequences to public safety and the financial health of the region and the nation.  Is this a risk we really want to tolerate so that a well connected corporation can maximize its profits?

Gary Shaw

Member Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) Steering Committee

Member Croton Close Indian Point (CrotonCIP) Steering Committee”

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