Construction of the new Spectra Algonquin 42-inch diameter gas pipeline adjacent to the Indian Point nuclear facility could begin any day. Leading nuclear safety and pipeline safety experts have clearly explained that the risk assessment performed by the plant operator, Entergy, and accepted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, dramatically underestimated the risk of siting this pipeline adjacent to Indian Point. The experts say that in the event of a pipeline rupture, the most likely scenario would be a full system and back-up system failure. This would put the 20 million people living in the 50 mile radius of the plant at risk from a Fukishima-like core meltdown and have a major impact on the US economy. Paul Blanch, nuclear expert says that the NRC used materially false information that defies the laws of thermodynamics to claim that in the event of a pipeline rupture, there would be no additional risk. The nuclear and pipeline experts, as well as prominent federal, state, county and local officials and national non-profits, including Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace, Riverkeeper and Nuclear Resource Information Service, have demanded that an independent risk assessment to be undertaken as soon as possible and have stated that construction should not begin while these grave issues are still pending.
The flawed risk assessment contains hand drawn, unsigned and undocumented calculations by the NRC which formed the basis for approval of the project. Relying on a formula that is prohibited for use in this situation, the NRC stands by its statement that there is “no additional risk” posed by the gas pipeline. The NRC’s Petition Review Board notified nuclear expert Mr. Paul Blanch on September 9 that his official petition was rejected. However, 39 vital questions posed by Mr. Blanch remain unanswered. One of the questions is why the NRC didn’t look at the San Bruno, CA pipeline rupture that killed 8 and leveled 38 homes in 2010. The impact radius far exceeded the predicted radius and Mr. Blanch believes that the NRC has miscalculated the impact radius for the Spectra pipeline, as well.
Last week, Mr. Blanch met with Chairman Stephen Burns, Commissioner Jeff Baren and Commissioner William Ostendorff at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission headquarters in Rockville, Maryland to discuss the rejection of his petition and to personally show the Commissioners the improper calculations on which the approval was based. Mr. Blanch stated, “There are several precedents for independent risk assessments, including Millstone, Vermont Yankee and Cove Point, Maryland. The NRC must follow its own regulations to ensure that the plant operates safely and that all risks are fully analyzed. I urge the Chairman and Commissioners to formulate a plan to sanction an independent risk assessment that takes into account gas pipeline dynamics.”
Click below to read Mr. Blanch’s NRC meeting notes: