“The official outcry over the handling of a recent leak at the Indian Point nuclear power plant has yet to be responded to, according to officials at the federal government’s nuclear watchdog agency.
A small leak in one of Indian Point’s spent-fuel pools was announced by the agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the company that owns the plant, on Sept. 20, nearly two weeks after the leak was discovered.
Although the leak was not found to be a danger to the public’s health or safety, officials on both the state and federal level were incensed about the delay. Officials from Westchester County, where the plant is located, joined Gov. George E. Pataki and senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton in calling for meetings with NRC chairman Nils J. Diaz.
“People deserve answers about what happened, whether they are safe, and why they weren’t told about the problem sooner,” Clinton said in her statement asking for the meeting.
Those meetings have yet to take place, said a spokesman for the NRC.
They were “still in the process of responding to congressional requests,” said the spokesman, and were considering the idea of public hearings on the matter. No timeframe for when the meetings might happen was available.
The agency’s reason for the delay was a lack of concrete evidence in the early stages of the leak and the fact that the leak did not appear to be a threat. An Entergy spokesman said that it might have been better to act sooner, in light of the public reaction, but that similar situations in the future would still be handled on a case-by-case basis.
The leak’s announcement was the latest in a series of recent problems at the plant. Two storms in July caused power outages that temporarily disabled the plant’s emergency warning system, and a test of the system on Sept. 14 revealed malfunctions in some of the sirens designed to alert area residents of an emergency.“
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