May 18, 2012
Copyright © 2012
Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.
Indian Point operates safely, NRC says
TARRYTOWN - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission told a crowded public forum Thursday night in Tarrytown that the Indian Point nuclear power plants had a good safety record in 2011.
The facility’s safety operations fall “within the expected band of performance,” said NRC spokesman Neal Sheehan. He said that last year Indian Point was subject to 11,000 hours of inspections, and that while that number will not drop in 2012 or beyond, there were no red flags raised by the review that will require the plant to increase inspections.
The event drew large crowds of vocal supporters on both sides of the plant relicensing issue, and the public hearing had a raucous atmosphere. On one side were business leaders and unions; on the other environmentalists and concerned citizens. Representatives from advocacy groups were abundant, as all sides gear up for the relicensing battle that begins in 2013.
“I am very concerned that Indian Point is an old car whose time has come, and it’s time for us to retire it,” said Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, who represents the Town of Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant.
“We bet on it for many years that it would continue to run without incident, but eventually the house wins, and we lose everything,” Abinanti said. “Those of us who lived in the shadow of Indian point for many years and have seen the breakdowns and the problems over there think the NRC should do the right thing and let it expire when the time is over.”
Westchester Legislator Michael Smith said that at this point he favors the relicensing, but welcomes the public pressure, which he says is productive.
“I don’t think we necessarily should allay people’s fears at this point now, because there are concerns with nuclear power. People raise concerns and hopefully we can raise standards and raise the bar,” smith said.
Phillip Musegaas of Riverkeeper called the NRC annual assessment process “a charade.” He said that NRC lacks independence and fails to serve the public interest.
“They have it wrong because they are what we call a captive agency”, Musegaas said. “They are beholden to the nuclear industry. The industry pays about 85 percent of their budget. If you start shutting down nuclear plants, you start creating a world where there is less reason for the NRC to exist. They have an automatic conflict of interest when it comes to shutting down nuclear power plants”.
While many New Yorkers are increasingly concerned about nuclear power following the disaster in Japan, NRC officials cautioned that the location of Indian Point makes it far less vulnerable than a coastal plant on the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”
Still, the NRC has increased safety requirements nationwide based on findings from Fukushima. Indian Point has been ordered to do a re-evaluation of seismic conditions, as well as flood control, and plans that deal with potential power outages to the reactors.
HEAR today's news on MidHudsonRadio.com, the Hudson Valley's only Internet radio news report.