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Indian Point Spokesman Opposes New Riverkeeper Report; Says Plant is Safe Despite Fears Over Fukushima

Indian Point and the New York Area Energy Coalition opposed Riverkeeper and Environment New York’s report released today.

Two citizen environmental groups claim a new report shows thatposes a threat drinking water for more 11 million people, but Indian Point says there is little basis for their claims.

Riverkeeper and Environment New York claim that a new Environment New York study shows that if a catastrophe like melt down occurred in New York “radiation exposure could contaminate our drinking water and increase the risk of cancer and other illnesses.” During an afternoon press conference on Tuesday, the Hudson River Program Director of Riverkeeper, Phillip Musegass, and a field organizer from Environment New York, Eric Whalen, summarized the report, “Too Close to Home: Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water,” and said Indian Point puts 11 million New Yorkers’ drinking water at risk and that the nuclear energy plant should not be relicensed.

Indian Point spokesman Jerry Nappi and New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance refute these claims, stating that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found IPEC to be safe, and that it is virtually impossible for a Fukushima level catastrophe to hit the Hudson Valley. Nappi said there is no proof that there are radiological risks associated with contaminated water.

“They make comparisons with Fukushima and what happened over there so you have to start with how these plants are designed,” Nappi said. to withstand twice as much flooding as the worst flooding this area has ever seen and 100 times greater than the worst earthquake we have ever experienced.”

Nappi said there was evidence that the Fukushima area had experienced worse tsunamis than the one that caused last year’s meltdown. Nappi also said that even in the case of the Three Mile Island accident, when a third of the plant’s fuel melted down, there were no radiological consequences.

“Indian point is designed to keep radioactivity inside the containment zone,” he said, adding that Indian Point was designed with extra precaution because of its location.

The environmental groups look at Fukushima as a warning. “Fukushima shows us the risks are real and the consequences (of an accident at Indian Point) could be catastrophic and worse than what we saw in Japan,” Riverkeeper’s Musegass, said at the press conference. Musegrass and Whalen highlighted other findings in claiming: Indian Point threatens more than twice as many people than any other nuclear facility in the country (because of the threat to drinking water); that Unit 2 own because of a pump that was leaking radioactive coolant, that local bodies of water used to help cool nuclear reactors are at risk of contamination and that as nuclear facilities get older leaks are more common. The report Whalen summarized states that IPEC should not be relicensed, for ground water to be monitored in the mean time, and for the facility to be replaced with an alternative energy source.

In response to Riverkeepers’ claims, Nappi said that there was no release of radioactivity when the pump seal failed on Jan. 10, (Unit 2 was shut down on that day and the reactor was returned to service on Jan. 19); and there is no proof that local bodies of water are at risk of contamination. In response to whether or not leaks are more likely as plants age, Nappi said that the seal pump that recently failed was only installed a few years ago and that many parts of the reactors are regularly replaced and are not aging. Regarding ground water tests, Indian Point has ground water monitoring wells on site that serve essentially as an early warning system to show if a pip was leaking anything into the ground water, Nappi said.

The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (which will hold a forum with Riverkeeper at Columbia University on March 1) agrees with Nappi that the plant is safe, despite Riverkeeper’s claims that it’s age makes it more vulnerable to accidents. AREA says that “Indian Point is getting even safer as lessons about best practices are learned and applied through the nuclear power industry.  Indian Point also makes the region cleaner and safer by helping ensure a reliable grid, through clean power production.”

During this afternoon’s press conference Musegass said that the new study includes information about a wide-range of alternative energy sources that could replace Indian Point in five to ten years. A Riverkeeper document states that “The current surplus of electricity capacity in downstate New York and the availability of imported power means that if Indian Point is not relicensed and shuts down in 2015, and no other actions are taken, there will be no impacts on reliability of electricity supply in the region until 2020, providing ample time to plan for and put in place the energy alternatives.”

Indian Point Units 2 and 3 are up for re-licensing in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the plant's equipment can operate safely for next 20 years, Nappi said. The relicensing process will reach a point where contentions are heard by a separate branch of the NRC in the form of public hearings, to be held sometime this spring.

Keep up with the latest on Indian Point public hearings, protests, relicensing process and information on Patch.  

marilyn elie February 04, 2012 at 06:01 AM
Not a good week continued: The Office of the Comptroller announced that it was investigating all of the nuclear power plants in NYS, starting with Indian Point to see if pension money invested in them was at risk. The plant had an unexpected shut down and the lights did not go out and the subways in NYC operated just fine, thank you very much. Unless you follow the issue you probably did not even notice. Entergy stock continues to decline, now it is about on par with junk bonds. They had to sell a transmission company to raise a few billion dollars and the big payment on their balloon loan that they used to buy Indian Point and a couple of other nukes will be due soon. We don't even need to bring up their problems in Vermont. And, oh yes. The Governor of the State of New York wants to see it closed and is actively supporting replacement energy - should it be needed. The Attorney General has 17 fat three ring binders filled with lots of legal reasons the plant should not be relicensed. Expect a hearing this summer. It's a hard time for the nuclear cowboys riding the range around Buchanan, if only they knew...
Francis T McVetty February 06, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Marilyn, that shut down was during the winter, just wait for a hot summer and see what happens.
Bob Ogden February 06, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Ok I have a question if you folks can quit screaming at each other and give me an answer I'd really appreciate it. I know that when they had the disaster in Japan they needed to evacuate a 50 mile radius from the plant. Given that, let's say there is a disaster of some kind and let's not go into it's going to happen tomorrow or it's never going to happen argument. How do we evacuate a 50 mile radius from the plant which by the way is about the distance from Indian Point to E. 34 St. & 5th Avenue in Manhattan? Seems like an impossible task. I am a supporter of nuclear power but I think this one may just be in the wrong place.
happypatcher February 06, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Peekskill Pete, it's obvious, I'm surprised you haven't figured it out yet. James T. Kirk will arrive and "beam" everyone to Space Mountain at Disney World. If that fails most of us will die or get cancer. But remember there is only one James T. Kirk and he doesn't fail! I hear he is leaving Priceline for Entergy - we be cool!
Bob Ogden February 06, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Thanks Happy. I feel better now.

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