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“Engel pushes for Indian Point security report” by Greg Clary

“THE JOURNAL NEWS

Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the company has completed all of the video inspections it can in the 40-foot-deep, 400,000-gallon tank without smaller cameras and other equipment. That portion of the inspection will take place as soon as possible, he said.

“We’ve done all we can without having to modify the camera or use different equipment,” Steets said. “We won’t be sending in a diver to look at the area that’s left.”

The water is leaking at the rate of about a liter per day, and the source
still has not been determined.

“The third flaw turned up nothing, zero,” Steets said. “We never put a lot
of stock into that idea, but we needed to check it.”

Now the company must become more creative in finding the source, he said.

Since the discovery of the leak Aug. 22, engineers at Indian Point have said that it would take time to determine its origin.

Steets said Entergy would continue to look in the spent-fuel pool for the
leak, though company engineers have not ruled out that the leak might be
coming from elsewhere.

“It’s possible that it could be somewhere else in the pool, but it’s
possible it’s coming from somewhere else,” Steets said.

The Department of Homeland Security is delaying a report on the security of navigable waters around the nation’s nuclear power plants until 2007, and a group of New York’s elected representatives in Washington wants some answers.

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, wrote Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff at the beginning of the month asking that the report, due during
the summer, be released. Engel said he didn’t hear from Chertoff’s office
until he sent a second letter containing the additional signatures of his 19
Democratic colleagues from the New York delegation.

Among those joining Engel in signing that letter were Reps. Nita Lowey,
D-Harrison and Charles Rangel, D-Manhattan.

Pamela Turner, an assistant secretary for Homeland Security, told Engel in her Nov. 17 response that an interim report would be available to Congress in 30 to 60 days and that the full report would be part of a more comprehensive vulnerability assessment that would be sent to Congress in the fall of 2007.

Engel said that schedule was too slow for an issue as sensitive as security.

“That’s obviously not acceptable,” he said. “I’d like to know why we were never informed that the one-year deadline was not going to be met. Are they arrogant enough to think they can disregard a congressional mandate? Why did it take missing the deadline and a letter from me and my colleagues before we get any kind of response?”

Brian Doyle, a Homeland Security spokesman, said a second letter from the department would go out immediately to let the congressional delegation know that the interim report would be available as early as next week.

During congressional consideration of the vulnerability review, Doyle said, the task was “elevated and broadened” to allow for a more comprehensive review of how to protect nuclear plants.

“It’s not like we’ve been sitting here twiddling our thumbs,” Doyle said.
“We are moving as fast as we can on this.”

Soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, overall security at the
Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan was upgraded to include the posting of Coast Guard cutters until a state militia marine unit was
stationed there full time. The property is on the bank of the Hudson River.

Indian Point officials said a fully staffed militia boat was posted in the
Hudson around the clock and there was no means by which a vessel could get to the site from the water.

Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point, said even a rocket fired from a boat would not be able to penetrate the containment buildings’ 4-foot-thick concrete walls.

Cmdr. Pete Gautier, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, which conducted the water-security portion of the review for Homeland Security, said Indian Point was one of 11 locations nationwide that have been assessed. Forty sites in the country are on navigable water, and all will be reviewed before the report is finished, he said.

Gautier said the interim report going out soon to Congress probably would not deal with the specifics of each plant, but rather the commonalities of their security needs and plans.

Details of security measures at nuclear power plants are mostly classified,
federal and Entergy officials said.”

 

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