“WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, pointedly noting that he oversees $58 million of company stock, has asked Entergy Corp. to join the call for a major safety inspection of its Indian Point nuclear power plants.
In a letter to Entergy Chairman Robert Luft, Hevesi said an independent safety assessment conducted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would be “in Entergy’s best interest financially, and for the long-term value of the Indian Point asset.”
“The sooner this occurs, the better for shareholders and the public,” he told Luft in the April 26 letter, reminding him that the New York State Common Retirement Fund, “of which I am sole trustee,” holds 847,728 shares of Entergy.
In a second letter, Hevesi urged the NRC to order the independent safety assessment, which the commission has refused to do. The NRC says a less comprehensive inspection scheduled for next year, combined with current oversight, is more appropriate for Indian Point.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and other members of Congress disagree and have resorted to legislation to try to impose the more comprehensive inspection, which was last done at the Maine Yankee plant in 1996 and took three months. The inspections planned for Indian Point would take seven weeks for each of its two reactors, said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.
Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the nuclear plants at Indian Point, 35 miles north of New York City, have come under heavy scrutiny and criticism. However, attempts to shut them down have met with federal assurances that they are safe and that emergency evacuation plans are adequate.
Both types of inspections being discussed would address onsite concerns only, not the evacuation plans, Sheehan said.
Indian Point has encountered various problems in recent months including malfunctioning emergency sirens and a leak of radioactive isotopes into the groundwater. Entergy has agreed to replace the sirens and is searching for the cause and scope of the leak.
Clinton requested the independent safety assessment in March, but NRC Chairman Nils Diaz said it was not warranted. In a letter to the senator, Diaz said extensive inspections are scheduled for next year and both Indian Point plants and “the current increased level of oversight at Indian Point is appropriate.”
Clinton, however, wrote back that she was introducing a Senate bill to require the independent safety assessment. Local Reps. Sue Kelly, a Republican, and Democrats Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel sponsored a similar bill in the House in February.
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets on Wednesday said company officials were still reviewing Hevesi’s letter and could not comment, but he added, “Whatever is decided in the end, we will support the NRC’s efforts.”
Hevesi spokesman Jeffrey Gordon said the comptroller’s office often mentions the state’s stock holdings in its dealings with companies, “telling them we have an interest in how the company runs.”“