July 17, 2013

Petition to CLOSE IT! delivered this week

Pressure from residents to close Indian Point is not going away.

Jordan & Renee Kalfus and Camilla Calhoun delivered a petition to Congresswoman Nita Lowey at her White Plains office with 1869 names on it. They say the congresswoman has been on the side of closing this plant in many of its battles for license renewal.


The petition has also been sent electronically to Governor Cuomo, all NYS legislators, and to the NRC.

Keeping in touch with signers via email, the petition creators said the public's "RESPONSE TO THIS PETITION WAS DRAMATIC" and the "COMMENTS WERE INFORMED.

Other "INFORMED" statements were made at the NRC public meeting on May 14th, for which a transcript and audio has been provided at these links:

Audio on YouTube here.

DeBar's opening remarks and segments of related interviews and commentary are
available at livestream/4szCS (it loads more slowly; the meeting itself begins at 15:27).

Transcript here (includes editorial remarks, names of speakers
where possible, and links to various documents cited).

Here's how the petition read:
We, residents of the Hudson Valley and the metropolitan New York and New Jersey areas, are demanding that the licensing renewals for the Indian Point nuclear power plant for 2013 and 2015 be denied, and that the plant is closed down as soon as possible. Studies have shown that with upgrades in the New York State power grid, with energy efficiency and conservation measures, and investment in renewable sources, Indian Point's capacity can be replaced with minimal cost to consumers.

And what pushed them to designing it in the first place was this:

Petition Background

Twenty million people live within fifty miles of Indian Point, and the risks are very real:

1. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) told Americans living 50 miles from Fukushima to evacuate, yet Indian Point has an inadequate evacuation plan of only 10 miles.

2. Indian Point is located near a fault line. In the event of an earthquake of a possible magnitude of 7, Indian Point is totally vulnerable.

3. Indian Point operates without an approved fire prevention plan and has been exempted from countless safety rules.

4. Indian Point lacks an adequate protection plan in a world of real terrorist threats.

5. Indian Point does not have a plan to repay the potential loss of lives, homes, livelihood, and irreparable damage to drinking water and the environment for the residents of the historic Hudson Valley.

Replaceable energy is not worth the enormous safety risk that Indian Point poses.

Please, sign the petition to close Indian Point today!

June 02, 2013

Transcript of the NRC Public Meeting on Indian Point Safety

Region I Administrator Bill Dean told those who attended the NRC's May 14th event that it's not NRC policy to provide transcriptions of its public meetings. Dean said they have to "think about cost of things like transcription services, and is that the right use of our, you know, tax dollars."

This particularly disingenuous policy of the NRC not to provide transcriptions brought protests from from the audience. Obviously, they felt it's a significantly important use of taxpayer dollars to provide transcripts of these meetings that only a handful of people can actually attend.

Unlike the NRC, I do not have to worry about taxpayer dollars, so I took the better part of a week to make a transcription. Such a thing was only possible because activist Don Debar announced he was making an audio recording of the entire meeting, intending to air it on his online radio show at CPRmetro.org.

Audio on YouTube here.

DeBar's opening remarks and segments of related interviews and commentary are
available at livestream/4szCS (it loads more slowly; the meeting itself begins at 15:27).

Transcript here (includes editorial remarks, names of speakers
where possible, and links to various documents cited).

Dean's pandering and dissembling only contribute to the fundamental distrust many people in the 10-mile radius already have of the NRC, with its problematical regulatory record. Here's part of Dean's opening remarks:

"I know a number of you have indicated that we would really like to have these meetings transcribed, recorded somehow. And the NRC does do that for meetings that are decision-making meetings, meetings that are held that are—, that have a legal or a regulatory aspect to them where there’ll be a decision made. This is not a decision-making meeting, this is not a meeting that’ll be part of the license renewal hearings on Indian Point, or anything like that. This is just an opportunity for us to have dialogue and information exchange with you all. So, we all will be taking notes. I’ll note, for example, that Mary Woolen from the Chairman’s office is here [Chairman’s Policy Advisor for External Engagement]. The Chairman, as many of you may know, was up here in February and met with a number of the stakeholder groups while she was here. Mary is here to listen to the feedback and the comments that we get and so will be conveying to the Chairman the things that she hears here tonight, as well as the NRC staff.
"You know, this nation is founded on a lot of great principles, and one of them that I think is really important is the fact that diversity is important in this country. This is a very diverse nation. People came to this country from many, many different parts of the world and have made this the strongest nation in the world, and diversity is part of that. That includes diversity of views, and I know there are people here in this audience that have different views about Indian Point and nuclear power. And you are going to have an opportunity to share those views with us here tonight. But I do ask, though, is that when people come up to share their views that we treat their legal right to have a view and have an opinion and express that opinion with respect no matter what side of the subject matter they might be on. Whether they’re for or against, please treat members with respect."

When the NRC can't find a way to provide a transcript for people who can't attend its public meetings, they show a profound disrespect not only for taxpayers, but for anyone who spends time in the lower Hudson Valley.

May 31, 2013

Newsday must have set a record for under-reporting safety at IP

"Indian Point . . .  has come under scrutiny because of concerns about safety and the feasibility of evacuating hundreds of thousands of people in an emergency."
—Ken Schachter, of Newsday Westchester/ Rockland

What kind of reporter can make it sound as if safety at Indian Point is something people are only just starting to be concerned about.

Residents, environmentalists and responsible government officials have protested the leaks, corrosion, and storage choices for decades. They've raised concerns more recently about terrorist threats, the earthquake fault and fire protection measures, but even these are no longer hot topics. All of us have been talking about them for years.

Oh, and there's never been a viable evacuation plan for the area, no matter what kind of collusion Entergy, the NRC, FEMA and local electeds have engaged in to pretend there was.

The Newsday reporter was probably trying to give some context to a document just published by Common Cause/NY called Generating Influence. According to a Riverkeeper news release, the report deals with Entergy's "lobbying, campaign contributions and deceptive PR strategies to influence Indian Point relicensing." 

The link in Schachter's post didn't work today on my computer. The pdf of the report can be accessed here.

What caught my eye in Riverkeeper's press release was this:
Entergy’s campaign of political contributions includes key state and federal elected officials, which the Common Cause report itemizes in detail, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Charles Schumer and former Senator Hillary Clinton, and numerous members of Congress, with Rep. Nan Hayworth topping the list of recipients. Senator Gillibrand and Senator Schumer have yet to state their position on Indian Point’s relicensing. 
The money going out to all these electeds is worth noting — and doing something about at the grassroots level.

May 22, 2013

Putnam Co. Legislators override Odell's veto

Updated May 23rd .....
Gary Shaw (IPSEC, Croton CIP and other organizations) has just reported that the Putnam County Legislature has just overridden County Executive MaryEllen Odell's veto of the Public Health & Safety resolution regarding Indian Point that had been passed on April 3rd.

Resolution #73, which had called for a ramped up evacuation plan, better storage of the spent fuel, changes to the infrastructure of the plant, and that seismological data be taken into acount passed the legislature by a vote of 7 to 2.

Shaw says the override was 8 to 1.

Kevin Foley expressed the opinion of many activists opposing the relicensing of Indian Point when he wrote in the Philipstown.info a little over a month ago that because the plant is under the jurisdiction of the NRC,
Neither the resolution nor Odell’s veto directly affects planning ... But, an official position by the county government that the current evacuation zone is insufficient for public safety would add yet another point of contention to the current consideration by the NRC of the licensing status of the two plants at Indian Point.
Steve Laifer, of Nuclear Safety Now, makes another point:
The question now is, will Putnam Safety Commissioner Adam Stiebeling, who spoke in support of Entergy and in opposition to the resolution at the debate, revise the evacuation plan in accordance with the will of the people as expressed through their county legislature and locally, by the Village of Cold Spring in our own Indian Point resolution.  We shall see...

This is MaryEllen Odell on the left, Stiebeling on the right (redacted from a photo in Putnam County Online):

Odell's letter of veto, which includes the text of the resolution (below), can be found at this link.

IP to operate with an expired license???

Legally, yes, because if the plant owner submits a request to relicense its facility at least five years before the termination date of its current license, it has the right to continue operating under the same conditions as stipulated in the current license until the decision is handed down.

Bill Dean, Regional Administrator of the NRC's Region I Office, explained it at the May 14th Public Meeting on Indian Point's safety record in Tarrytown, NY:
There is a provision to the license renewal regulations called “timely renewal,” which says that if a facility applies for a renewed license at least five years before the termination of its license would be— if the proceedings have not yet completed, they can continue to operate under the auspices of their current and existing license, design-basis and licensing basis. One of the things we have done working with the licensee was get the licensee to provide us a commitment on their part that they will put in place all of those aging management programs that would have been required if the agency had indeed renewed the license. They have committed to do that before they even enter the period of extended operation September 28th. So, I think that’s a very important aspect of the licensee’s commitment to put these additional programs that would have been required if we had made a decision to renew their license.

A decision on extending the license for Unit 2 is expected in the fall of 2014. Until that time, it's anyone's bet whether the "aging management programs" alluded to by Dean will be adequate.

As to whether Indian Point is headed for a nuclear meltdown, Carol Werner of the Environmental & Energy Study Institute says to a PressTV news reporter: "We would certainly hope not, but of course one never knows."

Full PressTV video here.

September 28, 2011

August 23, 2011

Channel 12 spins, Marilyn Elie clarifies (once again!)

When Channel 12 Westchester News people do interviews, don't forget that you have to fill in on your own what they leave out.

Interviewing Entergy spokesperson Jerry Nappi this afternoon, the reporter let him get away with saying that the Indian Point "structures" are "safe."

Yes, the domes were built to withstand a lot of impact, but not the buildings where the spent fuel rods are stored. Entergy has been slow to put these highly radioactive rodes into dry casks, so there they sit, outside the domes and clearly not as "safe" as the Nuclear Industry wants you to believe.

I complained to Channel 12 News about not getting Entergy to speak about the whole picture, not just the bits that suit the corporation's needs.

Marilyn Elie has just circulated this:

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Indian Point is designed to withstand a 5.8 earthquake within a 50 mile radius of the plant.This is based on a 5.8 earth quake in New Jersey in 1894. This one was 5.9 and it was 200 miles away. The plant was not at risk, however, it is important to remember that the reactor building is the only building that is covered in the design basis. This means the systems that are needed in an emergency are not covered. Neither is the spent fuel pool or underground pipes. Fire fighting equipment is housed in a cinder block storage building that an earthquake could demolish. Even though this was not a radiological emergency, cell phone lines crashed and it was impossible to make calls, emergency or otherwise. How could the county plan to notify Westchester residents via cell phone have worked in a real emergency? What about notification to those outside the ten mile area? What about parents who work in NYC and their concern for children left in Westchester? What would they do in a radiological emergency? What would any of us in the 50 mile radius do, considering that our roads and bridges cannot even handle an ordinary rush hour?

This unpredictable act of nature brings home the fact that closing a nuclear reactor situated in a 50 mile radius of 20 million people is about a lot more than generating electricity. While we can generate electricity in many different ways, the potential loss of lives and damage to those of us in the Hudson River Valley and New York City is incalculable. While the probability of a natural or human caused catastrophic release of radiation at Indian Point remains low, the impact is simply to much to tolerate. Indian point must be closed.

It is vital for all of us to talk with elected decision makers and remind them of this fact. As this 5.9 earthquake clearly demonstrates, the time for counting megawatts is over.

July 12, 2011

Brodsky and Kaplowitz in May inquiry into Indian Pt

I took the following notes during a meeting in May of the board's Committee on the Environment and Energy.
Re-posted here to eliminate the spam comments in the original post.

The media webcast is available at this link.

Channel 12 filmed the session, but I don't know what footage they will use, if any. (The station did report this evening on the "must-fix list" inspectors gave Entergy.)

Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (who did not seek re-election in November while he was running for Attorney General), has questioned safety issues at Indian Point and the role of the NRC for years.

Today Brodsky urged Westchester County legislators to press hard for changes in the way Entergy does business: Stop the 1000s of undisclosed exemptions, and stop the deception.

Providing some background information, Brodsky said that after a near meltdown at an Alabama reactor in 1975, the NRC created some rules, including on that said the insulation on electric cables wiring had to protect against fire for 60 minutes. When they tested the insulation 5 years ago at Indian Point, it lasted only 27 minutes, the NRC chose not to clamp down but to give Entergy an exemption: they relaxed the 60-minute protection — in secret — to 24 minutes. As a result:
"The health and safety consequences are enormously more dangerous than they need to be. I want to emphasize that I think the chances of an accident at Indian Point remain small. The problem is the consequences are so enormous and unfixable."
Brodsky said there are probably thousands of exemptions to safety standards at Indian Point and we don't know what they are."

He said he's taken two steps: protracted litigation (now in the 2nd Circuit) to challenge the legal basis of exempting the fire safety rule in secret, and filing a FOIL request.

The original complaint against the NRC was made by Brodsky (with several environmental groups as co-plaintiffs) in 2007. Then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed an amicus brief in support of their concerns [Spano vs. NRC, 2d Cir. 07-0324-ag], and Brodsky wants the Board of Legislators to file a similar amicus brief in the ongoing litigation.

[US District Court Loretta Preska dismissed the case on March 4, 2011, just days before Fukushima. From
The original complaint cited 21 causes of action seeking to void Entergy's exemption and provide unspecified relief to the plaintiffs.

In her March 4 decision, Judge Preska grouped the plaintiffs' charges into five categories, and dismissed each in turn.

The plaintiffs claimed that the NRC lacked authority to grant an exemption, violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to hold a public hearing on the issue, flouted the National Environmental Policy Act by not preparing an Environmental Impact Statement, failed to consider probative evidence, and awarded the exemption too quickly to evaluate the request. 
 But Preska deferred to the judgment of the NRC, which she said the courts should not second-guess.]

Brodsky presented the Board with copies of all the litigation. An appeal has been filed (last Friday), and he expects the litigation to take 6-9 months.
"[The NRC] is simply not doing its job. . . The people of this area need the protection that only the courts can provide with respect to this fire safety issue."
He then gave the Board a copy of the FOIL request he submitted for all the exemptions the NRC, because they don't even know how many they issued. Since he's received nothing from the NRC so far, he thinks the county should work for the people of the county to make this information public (i.e., do its own FOIL request).

Brodsky also gave the Board a copy of his 2002 evaluation of the Evacuation Plan, which he urged them to look at. The county has to certify the sufficiency of the plan annually, and he believes that the County Executive did do that (but is not sure).
"If Westchester County is participating officially in a public health and safety fiction, I urge this committee to present to the Board of Legislators some policy instrument which will instruct the County Executive not to do that.

. . . if Westchester County is telling the NRC that this evacuation plan will protect the health and safety of the people of this area, then it is doing the people of this area a grave disservice.
That was the end of his official presentation, and they proceeded with questions.

Legislator Kaplowitz asked Brodsky for his thoughts on the evacuation plan. County Executive Andrew Spano had not certified the evacuation plan, at least in one year. He also said that he had been led to believe that even with a de-certified plan, the plant could continue to operate. Brodsky responded that the NRC's powers are extraordinary and they operate in secret. He said he wasn’t suggesting that the county’s denying approval of a plan would shut the plant down, but:
". . . the key and missing commodity for years in this debate has been the truth . . . I think the county should prepare, and should have a plan. There's a responsibility to mitigate the consequences under any circumstances. But, I do suggest that when and if the plan to certify is adequate, we're telling a lie.

. . . There are levels of insanity here that shouldn't prevent us from trying . . . to mitigate the consequences of an accident. But, we shouldn't go out pretending to the people we represent that somehow you're safe, or that you're protected, or that this plan will work."
He doesn't believe the Board should avoid the question as to whether that evacuation plan would protect residents.

Kaplowitz said that after Fukushima, the committee held a series of “plan, not panic” meetings, trying to get the facts. They continue to promote the idea of extending the 10-mile radius to a 50-mile zone. Brodsky said if it makes sense to use the 50-mile zone in Japan, it makes sense to do it here, and the reason they don't want to do it here is because it's not possible." The government is equivocating.
"If you can't evacuate New York City, say so."
Brodsky said governments have to tell the truth, and that the government is not telling the truth about nuclear power or Indian Point. He feels that if the NRC gave Entergy a secret exemption to the 1-hour rule, we should do everything we can to fix that. If all we have left is the courts, this committee, this government, has to be "part of the effort to persuade the courts that we have to change this."

Brodsky said the March dismissal of his lawsuit was "stunning in its refusal to recognize the factual realities which are conceded by both sides." He feels it would be very powerful if the County questions the fire exemption rule, use that as the "lever" to make sure people are safe.

Brodsky said the court granted the NRC “unfettered discretion” to do anything it wants. "The consistent legal deferral to the NRC is what marks this decision." To protect the people, they’ll have to turn to the Second Circuit, maybe the Supreme Court.

Legislator Harckham said he's been frustrated by the NRC's refusal to include safety issues in relicensing. What other things can be done along that front? Brodsky said that the NRC explicity refusing to deal with the safety/health issues is illegal and unethical, but he feels fire safety litigation is key. There are actually 70 things going on at Indian Pt that are relevant, among them:
— It’s the most expensive power in NYS, and Entergy makes an annual profit of 60-70% return on equity a year
— Not operated safely or in the economic interests of the people
— Lack of back-up electricity
— Spent fuel pools
— Guards can’t carry automatic weapons
— Refusal to consider terrorism in their calculations.

Kaplowitz said what is paramount is public safety. Brodsky said that for those who are in favor of this plant, it is in their interest to have an "effective and credible NRC," that these safety issues "are not of the kind that they now are." He thinks the Board could take a position on the fire safety issue in the current litigation and reserve other issues regarding energy for another forum. What he's asking the county to get involved with is the fight on the many secret safety exemptions. What disturbs him is when elected officials take the position that what the NRC says is okay.

Another issue: Entergy has sought an insurance cap on economic damages. If the plant is so safe, why did they want a cap?

The court's dismissal of the case does more than defer to the NRC. It said there's an implied power to exempt from the rules set out in the Atomic Energy Act.
"Although the [act] lists things which the NRC can grant exemptions for, it does not list health and safety. The NRC has said we're going to do it anyway. And we're going to do it secretly. We're not going to make it public. No right of public participation, no public notice."
Legislator Rogowski asked if there is any will in Congress to make the legislation more explicit. Brodsky said: "Not with this Congress."

In his final comments Brodsky remarked that one of the reasons nuclear power has hit a wall is because "people rightly don't trust the NRC. It is a captive regulatory body. The issue of the thousands of exemptions is "at the heart of the erosion of public confidence in the NRC, and we must not fail to make the strongest possible case."

With the exemptions, Brodsky said the NRC relied on a document called the "Fire Hazards Analysis” — which they don't have because it doesn’t even exist.
"The point of this legislation is not to view it ideologically. You can be pro-nuke, you can be anti-nuke, but you gotta be pro-safety."
Rogowsky raised the issue of the tremendous growth in the towns surrounding the plant, and should these communities have had a role in building permits, etc. Brodsky said the locals were not involved with the original siting of the plant, and that there is no question that this plant would not be sited here today.

The discussion was entirely dominated by Democrats, for which I would like to thank them. I don't believe a single Republican member on the Committee contributed a thing — but please correct me if I'm wrong.

June 29, 2011

News items from Croton Close Indian Pt—
including AP News report on NRC failures

Since June 20th, AP News has published a 4-part series on the failure of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to protect the public. These articles are the result of a year long investigation. If you haven't read these articles, you may want to do so. Indian Point is mentioned repeatedly, and you will learn that calling the plant safe after these exposés is impossible. You can find the articles at the following links.

June 20 AP IMPACT: US nuke regulators weaken safety

June 21 
AP IMPACT: Tritium leaks found at many nuke sites

June 27 
AP IMPACT: Populations around US nuke plants soar

Jun 28 
AP IMPACT: NRC and industry rewrite nuke history

On the good news front, Trustees for the Village of Croton passed two resolutions related to Indian Point which you can read at the village website when the June 20, 1011 meeting minutes are added. 

Furthermore, New York State passed the Power New York Act, which brings us a few steps closer to closing Indian Point. Related articles:
Power New York Act a win-win
, a Journal News editorial (June 23, 2011)
State lawmakers have signed off on an energy and jobs bill that one writer called "the most important bill most New Yorkers never heard of." When finally put into place, 
the new law could become the rejoinder to the perennial question: Where do we get the power if Indian Point is shuttered?

Power NY Act Promises Thousands of Jobs and Help for Homeowner, 
by Mike Clifford, Public News Service (June 24, 2011)

Finally, the NRC is rethinking its safety requirements and those calling for a moratorium on new and renewed licenses are being reported.
U.S. Nuclear Agency Rethinking Major Safety Requirements After Japan's Disaster,
 by Hannah Northey of Greenwire, in the NY Times
 (June 27, 2011)
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reconsidering deep-seated safety assumptions after a massive earthquake and tsunami crippled a Japanese nuclear plant in March and revealed potential deficiencies in the United States' own safety guidelines.

June 26, 2011

Ken Gale on Indian Point

Ken Gale hosts WBAI's Eco Logic radio show in NYC.

Gale is putting up an 8-pt video presentation on Indian Point
beginning with
this one.

Answers to these questions can be found in his report Chernobyl-on-the-Hudson (2008).
How dangerous is Indian Point even if there's no accident?

How dangerous is Indian Point's radiation?

Does Indian Point pollute the Hudson River?

What happens to Indian Point's nuclear waste?

What happens if there is an accident?

How many accidents has Indian Point already had?

Can we trust the nuclear industry in the event of an accident?

What is the difference between U.S. and Ukrainian nuclear reactors?

Will insurance help me recover from a nuclear accident?

Do the government agencies really protect us?

Is Indian Point a target in nuclear war?

Is Indian Point a terrorist target?

Is nuclear power really cheaper?

Would we still have electricity if Indian Point were shut down?

Where does the nuclear industry get itsuranium?

What can I do?
Interesting quotations about nuclear power

June 17, 2011

The NYS Public Service Commission steps in — but not enough by far

More evidence yesterday that the corporate owner of Indian Point needs constant vigilance and regulation.

In a press release (10-E-0420) yesterday, the NYS Public Service Commission said that it determined back in 2010 that Entergy could change both its financial arrangements and its corporate structure without Commission review. "Alternative arrangements," it said, could possibly "have a direct impact on the ability of the New York nuclear subsidiaries operating and owning Indian Point and Fitzpatrick to meet their capital needs for those facilities."

The Commission will now be getting notice of a variety of events that Entergy reports to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Listed in the press release are:
— entry into a material agreement, or a material amendment to any such agreement,

— entry into bankruptcy or receivership,

— completion of an acquisition or disposition of a significant amount of assets,

— creation of a material financial obligation,

— triggering events that accelerate or increase a direct financial obligation or an obligation under an off-balance sheet arrangement, and

— a material impairment of assets and amendments to corporate articles of incorporation or by laws.
Four "supplemental notice requirements" would guard against the possibility of Entergy's entering into "alternative transactions (reverse spin-off)" without the Commission's knowledge, which is why they had initiated the proceedings to tighten the regulations in the first place. Entergy must now report to them:
— any registered public debt offerings by Entergy or any of its subsidiaries that are direct or indirect owners of the New York nuclear facilities,

— any plant acquisitions or dispositions by any direct or indirect owners of the New York facilities,

— any pledge or other grant of a security interest in the assets or properties by the New York subsidiaries, and

— any contractual limitation on the ability of the New York subsidiaries to borrow money.
We know that part of Entergy's stated mission — to provide "safe, reliable and affordable electricity on behalf of our owners and stakeholders" — is dishonest. Structures that have leaked and still may be leaking radiative substances are by definition unsafe, as are highly radioactive rods stored outside the domes and not yet buried away in dry casks.

Any regulation that inhibits the plant owners from squirming out of potentially horrific financial responsibilities — such as bankruptcy mentioned above, or the creation of a material financial obligation, or an impairment of assets — is a good thing.

But, the Commission is not half as aggressive as its regulatory mandate requires. It is suppposed to set the service and operating standards for utilities, advise on "certificates of environmental compatibility," and inspect and review equipment.

No one can say Indian Point's cooling system is "compatible" with the environment. And the Commission doesn't seem to be much interested in the in IP's spent fuel pools filled way over design capacity for so many years in buildings nowhere near protected from terrorist attack.

So, we welcome this bit of regulation but demand the Commissioners to do a lot more to serve the public interest.

June 15, 2011

Raging Grannies against Indian Point

A couple of Raging Grannies groups sang out at the June 2nd NRC hearing, and more than a couple of these ladies live locally.

Sometimes the tune and lyrics fit just right, which is what they managed to do with Harry Woods hit song "Side by side," sung in the clip over on the right by Nick Lucas —

and the lyrics Sunny Armer gave it (which she adapted from an earlier anti-war version by Vermont Granny Esther Farnsworth):

There's a whole bunch of other songs over at Raging Grannies WOWW, the Westchester local. My favorite is the one with the tune "I've got you under my skin."
PCBs, you're under our skin.
Nuclear waste, you're deep in the hearts of us,
So deep in our hearts, you're really a part of us.
We've got you, under our skin . . .
You go, girls!

June 13, 2011

More Nan Hayworth on video . . .

. . . sliming her way through facts and corpo doublespeak at the April 28th Deerpark town meeting.
UPDATED 6/15/11:
see link at end of post
Nuclear Safety Now shows in this short clip of the event that the NY congresswoman (District 19) "clearly understands the earthquake risk and the impossibility of evacuating 20 million from the area surrounding the Indian Point nuclear plant."
"There's the Ramapo fault and, in fact, it's very true . . . we have slip faults throughout the northeast, and we actually live in one of the most seismically active areas of the country." — Hayworth
She also tried to tell the audience there are 15 million people in the 50-mile radius, until someone corrected her. The figure is anywhere between 17.5 and 22 million, but heck, what's 2.5 to 7 million more.
"It's absolutely true it would be very difficult, very difficult, to evacuate substantial numbers of people from this area for any reason." — Hayworth
"Evacuate"? Try RELOCATE.

"Substantial" numbers of people? Try ALL of them.

"For any reason"? Right. Minimize the issue by equating a nuclear catastrophe to any other kind of environmental accident. Maybe no one will notice.

In a Letter to the Editor posted at lohud.com on June 3rd, Gary Shaw cites examples of Hayworth's say one thing, vote another type of politics.

June 11, 2011

SAMG inspection results at reactors 2 and 3

In its June 6th press release, the NRC reported that Severe Accident Mitigation Guidelines inspections have been completed in all US nuclear plants. The guidelines, which have been voluntarily in place since the late 1990s, are "meant to contain or reduce the impact of accidents that damage a reactor core."

The full report of the NRC's findings, a Summary of Observations and a Results Overview can be found at this link on the NRC website.

The Summary indicates that nuclear plants are not following all the procedures the guidelines recommend:
The following are some general observations made during the performance of TI 2515/184. While individually, none of these observations posed a significant safety issue, they indicate that while the SAMG procedures are available at every site, there appears to be an inconsistent implementation of some aspects of this voluntary SAMG program.
This is a quickview link
to the entire set of results for the two reactors at Indian Point. Since the results are the same for both, only those for IP no.2 have been uploaded below.

June 09, 2011

What actually is leaking at Indian Point?

In a well-researched article published in the June issue of ZMagazine, "Indian Point: a Catastrophe Waiting to Happen," John Raymond describes some of the radioactive leakage that plague this plant.

It's always best to read the whole article, but here are the specific references to leaks:

Critical safety defaults at Indian Point are highlighted in two new independent reports that reviewed safety issues at nuclear plants. In its report, Unacceptable Risk: Two Decades of "Close Calls," Leaks and Other Problems at U.S. Nuclear Reactors, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group analyzed plant safety records and found that at least one out of every four of all U.S. reactors has leaked tritium. At Indian Point, the report cites a leak, originally discovered in 2005, from a spent fuel pool located only 400 feet from the Hudson River, of the radioactive poisons, tritium, and strontium. Test wells closer to the plant showed strontium levels that exceeded 25 times the safe drinking water standard.
[Exec summary and Quickview.]

The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2010: A Brighter Spotlight Needed by David Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, cites the NRC's "dismissal" of a longstanding leak in the liner of an earthquake safety device putting people living around Indian Point "at elevated and undue risk." The leak (2 to 20 gallons per minute) has been ongoing at least since 1993, the report said, noting that "the plant owner has not yet delivered on repeated promises" to fix it.
[Full report and exec summary.]

Raymond quotes IPSEC's Marilyn Elie as saying: "The NRC has said that water with radioactive isotopes is going into the Hudson River and the leak from the spent fuel pool at Unit I is the source of this." She also says that "low level and routine releases of radioactive isotopes" are permitted under federal permits. "The NRC says it's below regulatory concern."

As for low level emissions and cancer, Radiation and Public Health Project executive director Joseph Mangano testified to the NRC in 2009 that his group's research findings showed

routine radioactive releases into the environment from Indian Point are among the highest of U.S. plants, and that child cancer incidence in Westchester and Rockland counties is significantly above the U.S. rate.

"Each finding," he says in the report, "suggests Indian Point has harmed local residents." Included in his local data: thyroid cancer rates for 2001-2004 were highest in three NYS counties around the plant — 1st: Rockland, 2nd: Orange, and 3rd: Putnam.

Obviously, further studies are needed to determine whether the higher rates are related to the plant's nuclear activities and whether, if the wind plume travels in the opposite direction from two of the counties cited, there is a greater risk from radioactive water leakage than airborne particles.

June 08, 2011

June 2nd: a comprehensive report in The Indypendent, and some Wasserman too

An excerpt from Chris Williams's account of what happened at the June 2nd NRC hearing in Cortlandt Manor last Thursday evening:

"The q-and-a was more like a public haranguing. It was so much fun to see these people in suits–used to having their own way and making potentially life-destroying decisions with impunity–pathetically lost for words as they tried to defend the indefensible against extremely knowledgeable members of the local community, local politicians, community groups and environmental NGOs."

Many people reacted the same way as Williams did regarding the bias of some of the local reportage:

"In an effort to be “fair and balanced,” the mainstream news media that put up video of the hearing included three pro-Indian Point speakers and three against. This does a serious disservice to the evening because the three pro-nuke speakers were the only three of the whole evening, whereas dozens of people spoke against."

Actually, it was more than several dozens of people who spoke against.

It's as Williams says, it's kinda what real democracy would look like —

"The meeting went on for more than two-and-a-half hours, with person after person coming up to the microphone and making statements or asking questions. People actually got to experience what real democracy and community participation would look like in decisions that affect them."

but unfortunately, nobody takes official notes of what the audience has to say at these kinds of meetings and the commissioners would prefer to get on with it and not have to respond to any comments at all. The hearing was a dog-and-pony show gone off course, but a dog-and-pony show nevertheless.

It is good that we now have a video record of the NRC people getting into hot water (no pun intended) at several points during the Q and A:

"NRC operatives were roundly booed when they said they couldn’t meet with local elected officials, but could only “look into it” and take it “under advisement.” They couldn’t even produce a list of their own safety exemptions (in the hundreds at this point). And the officials stirred up further outrage when they didn’t even know how much radioactivity was stored in their spent fuel pools (far in excess of the number stored in all the reactors at Fukushima).

"At that point, one of the plant managers told the crowd that it was difficult to know because the plant had been in operation for so many years. Attendees responded with cries of 'Exactly!' and 'That’s why it needs to be shut down!'”

With enough of these kinds of displays of agency dissimulation and public outrage, popular support for nuclear power is bound to shift.

For much more background, particularly on the fire protection exeptions, read Harvey Wasserman's latest essay in Counterpunch: "The Nuclear Bandits."

"Fire protection? We ain't got no fire protection. We don't need any fire protection. We don't have to show you no stinking fire protection."

June 07, 2011

Croton CIP urges the Village Board to step up to the plate

Members of Croton Close Indian Point urged the mayor and trustees of the village of Croton-on-Hudson to take a far more active role in looking out for the health, safety and property of residents.

Croton sits between 4 and 7 miles downriver from the Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan. The Evacuation Plan authorized by the county is at best inadequate, and more truthfully a fantasy.

Croton CIP's statement was read to the Board of Trustees at last night's meeting. The group not only asked the village to formally acknowledge the inadequacies of the plan, but consider acting in the following ways:
1. Place the resolutions you’ve already signed online.

2. Educate yourselves (if you haven’t already) on the specific threats of this plant. A good start would be watching the Brodsky session I’ve been talking about and other of Legislator Kaplowitz's E & E hearings.

3. Attend NRC meetings (as other local officials have been doing) and speak for the residents of Croton.

4. Continue to pass resolutions relevant to environmental protection and public safety as they pertain to this village.

5. Explore the kinds of information Entergy is withholding (e.g., exemptions, financial data, grid arrangements), and make FOIL requests as needed.

6. Prepare amicus briefs and testimony relative to village concerns in order to assist courts in deciding matters before them in the current litigation. Surely the village has a right to expose how inane the Evacuation Plan is and how the NRC is not attending to its primary mandate: namely, to Protect the People and the Environment (as it says on its website). . . There is a role the Village of Croton can play in holding their feet to the fire on the issues of transparency and public confidence.

7. Consider forming a Village Committee to explore issues relating to threats to life in this village as we know it: nuclear plants immediately, but also fracking, gas pipelines, etc.

And finally, 8. Liaison with other village and town governments whose residents find themselves in the same position.
Read the full text here, or view the 17-min. presentation in this archived webcast beginning at 45:37.
See also the Cochran report to the NRDC (April 2011) on the implications of Fukushima.

Another of Croton CIP's members, Mary Cronin, asked the village to sign onto a resolution prepared by the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition calling for:
— Extending the radius of the evacuation zone from 10 to 50 miles,

— Remedying the flaws and deficiencies identified in the Witt report,

— Establishing full containment and independent back-up electricity and cooling for the spent fuel pools, and moving the rods as quickly as possible into dry casks,

— Taking new seismological data into consideration and upgrading infrastructure,

— Transmitting these resolutions to Gov. Cuomo.

Quickview of the resolution here; download a PDF here.

June 04, 2011

NRC admits there are things it doesn't know

UPDATE: additional commentary on the meeting by Abby Luby in the Westchester Guardian, June 9th — though there was more than one standing ovation. Maybe she wasn't it in the room for all of it.

More video at Nuclear Safety Now.

It is stunning to hear someone from the NRC admit there are things the nuclear industry doesn't know about its plants, but that's just what Deputy Regional Administrator David Lew said in an interview with MidHudsonNews.com two days ago.
" . . . are there things that we don't know, and does that worry us? We're always thinking about that. There are things that we don't know, and we provide, and we try to account for them through things that we put in place, such as severe accident management guidelines, strategies that you put for things that may be beyond the design, beyond the licensing that you do not know. And I think that provides some level of response.

But beyond that, we would take these issues from Fukishima and understand what we've learned from them. One of the areas that we will be looking at [ ? ] in response to Fukushima is emergency preparedness. We do have . . . emergency, require emergency planners for all licensees. Those plans are looked at, are tested [NB: Really? They've tested the evacuation plan? Maybe I was at work.] to make sure that they work. In fact, the regulatory oversight primarily of the external plans are from a different agency: FEMA (the Federal Energy Management Agency).
I want to understand this. They're trying to account for things they don't know about that may be beyond the design and the licensing? Huh?

Running a nuclear power plant should not be a science project, or even a PhD thesis.

And absolutely nothing the NRC allows Entergy to do should be "beyond" the design of the plant. If Indian Point has not been designed for any or all catastrophes or for long-term storage of nuclear waste — and it hasn't been — then you don't sit there evaluating, strategizing, proscrastinating and exempting. You shut it down.

As Arnie Gundersen said to Chris Martensen in a June 3rd interview talking about what happens if Fukushima Unit 4 collapses in an aftershock: "We are well beyond where any science has ever gone at that point and nuclear fuel lying on the ground and getting hot is not a condition that anyone has ever analyzed."

The NRC is selective in what it wants to examine and evaluate for re-licensing.

Riverkeeper Executive Director Paul Gallay slammed into them for a host of things it's not prepared to look into, including that 50-mile evacuation plan.
"I don't say it lightly: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is talking about having a re-licensing hearing where they don't talk about evacuation planning, where they don't talk about fire safety risk, where they don't talk about earthquake risk. 'Not a matter of serious concern,' remember. And also: where they don't talk about the fact that this plant is too close to too many people. It's too old. It's too dangerous, and . . . we don't even need the juice."

June 03, 2011

Nan Hayworth responding on ongoing subsidies to the nuclear industry

Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (Dist. 19th) is satisfied that Indian Point is safe.

On this C-Span interview, she seductively slimes her way around a question that was put to her by a Croton resident and member of Croton Close Indian Point (at about 26:21 minutes):

"I live in your district. If you're worred about the debt, why not stop the subsidies for nuclear power? Loan guarantees mean that if a plant has an accident, the government would have to pick up the tab for billions dollars . . ."

Her blathering about tax structures morphs into some remarks about Indian Point, which lies in the southern center of her large district (see right).
"Every aspect of our tax structure does need to be scrutinized, there's no question. We need a flatter, fairer, less complicated tax system. Absolutely. But, that means that we actually have to look at the entire constellation of what we've . . . cobbled together over the years, to try to . . . compensate for what . . . our unreasonable . . . levels relative to what the rest of the world . . . has as a base tax rate in terms of corporate taxes. So, there are lots of fingers that have been put on the scales of our tax system to help different constituencies. They all need to be worked down and out of these complications so that everybody is paying the same
[except corporations, so many of which don't]
and everybody's doing the right thing
[except corporations, so many of which are not].
So, I do understand the genesis of the question in that way.

"With regard to nuclear power, I have met with the NRC, I have met with all of their monitors on site at Indian Point, I've met with the management of Indian Point, I've toured the plant twice now, most recently of course after Fukushima Daiichi, and I am satsified that the plant is being run responsibly with a primary concern for safety, because, of course, it is a very useful source of power, it is a carbon-clean power, which is important, in this environment. I do care about our carbon emissions, and so nuclear power is a great alternative in that way, but, of course, it does have to be produced safely.

"And I am satisfied, as someone who also lives in the neighborhood, if you will, of Indian Point, that it is not placing us in any sort of imminent danger, and has redundancy upon redundancy built in, in response to what has been learned over the decades in which we've used nuclear power."
That "redundancy upon redundancy" is a phrase she used before, after getting a private tour of the plant a month or two ago. It's common to the industry: a project manager in California, for example, used the same words in 2002.

But, redundancies do not discover leaks that go unnoticed for months. Redundancies don't seem to have helped out with the sirens that failed so many times, and they don't function at all with evacuation plans — especially plans that right from the getgo can't get people out of the area in case of emergency.

Hayworth does more than cuddle up to the nuclear industry. She goes the whole hog when she claims nuclear power a "great" alternative to carbon fuel.

June 2nd NRC hearing - a report

Last night's hearing at Cortlandt Manor was informative, amusing, feisty, and packed. I almost felt sorry for the couple of people in the audience who tried to defend the plant's existence. They were up against a crowd that was having none of it.

(Click left for a many more pictures posted at Rock the Reactors.)

Shame on the members of the commission who felt they could admonish angry attendees for interrupting the presenters and not giving them the appropriate respect. "If you want us to listen to you, you have to listen to us."

Few in this crowd thought so. Hear some of it in live footage (about 0:35):

The NRC arrogantly calls the plant "safe" each time Entergy squeaks through another year avoiding a catastrophic event.

What the commissioners ignore entirely at these meetings unless pushed to respond in the Q&A is that the reactors have leaked and are de facto not "safe." The spent fuel pools remain unprotected and over capacity, and seismic threat is real, in fact greater than once thought.

They also don't like to talk about
Entergy's procrastination on retrofits to reduce ecological damage, or about the possibly hundreds of exemptions from the NRC's own regulations that have been granted to the company over time, or about the commission's history of acceding to the demands of corporate nuclear giants.

Residents have actually "listened" to the results of Entergy/NRC collaboration for way too long. But the times they are a-changing.

(Click right to access a slide presentation of what the NRC says it does.)

(Click here to see an Region I organizational chart of NRC personnel and in text format here.)

Sent out by Marilyn Elie this morning:

Congratulations! You did it!

What a meeting. 80 people at the press conference, lots of press coverage and standing room only inside the huge meeting hall. There were seats for 500 and easily 100 people or more standing around the wall, in the lobby or outside on the porch. Shouts of Shut It Down almost caused the meeting to be shut down. If you missed this meeting you missed something that we will look back on as a historic turning point. Welcome New York City folks, all 70 of you. Your numbers brought a lot of energy and strength to this meeting. The people who spoke were passionate, brilliant and well informed.

Michael Kaplowitz got a standing ovation - "nice to finally see you here" - referring to the fact that the NRC had declined to talk with our county legislators, among other things. They said that they would take his repeated requests "under advisement." Tell him yes the crowd shouted. We have heard the NRC make too many lame speeches for too long. There was no patience for it tonight as people held up red report cards with F- or just shouted out FAILURE.

It was a tough night for Entergy at the Paramount in Peekskill as well where they were sponsoring a reception for artists in the Hudson River Valley. Remy was out on the sidewalk in front of the Paramount handing out flyers as people arrived. The guards came out and told him to leave. He told them that he was on a public sidewalk and had every right to be there. They agreed that this was true. He then told them he was staying. Their response? OK.

It was only after the artists had paid their fees and made plans to display their work in this show that it was announced that Entergy was a sponsor of the valley wide art event. It made New Paltz artist and long time Indian Point foe, Michele Riddle so mad that she decided to do an extra "performance piece." It was titled We Are All Naked in Front of Nuclear Power. There were three of them all in white rad suits. Michele's was different, it was semi transparent. She chose to wear her title it and very little else. The guards tried to keep her out, but didn't quite know what to do with her since she was a paying customer whose art was being exhibited in the show. They sent her out one door so she easily walked in through another other. Right to the buffet in the front of the room. Afterwards many other artists came up to her and thanked her for taking a stand. The others had simply not known what to do. Now they are inspired.

No organizing committee, no conference calls, no meetings, for this one. Just a few determined people taking action because it is the right thing to do. We need both approaches. Be practical, be brave, be bold, be daring. Talk to your friends and neighbors and let them know the facts they will not hear on the nightly news. Talk to politicians and let them know you vote. Do unexpected things that make people laugh. Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do, just keep on doing something.

Let's do it all and together we will shut the damn thing down.

With Great Respect,
Marilyn Elie

June 02, 2011

IPSEC's press release for June 2nd NRC hearing

Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition

For Immediate Release

Contacts: Marilyn Elie, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, eliewestcan@gmail.com
Susan Shapiro, goshengreenfarms@aol.com

What: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Meeting

When: 6:00 PM, Colonial Terrace 119 Oregon Road, Cortlandt Manor, New York 10567

Groups Unified in Opposition to Indian Point

Disaster in Japan a wake up call for the Hudson River Valley

A coalition of environmental and citizens’ groups will hold a press conference today at 6pm at Colonial Terrace in Cortlandt Manor, NY prior to the start of the Annual Safety Assessment Meeting for Indian Point Units 2 and 3. United by a concern over the ongoing disaster at Fukushima the organizations joining together in this initiative include Citizens Awareness Network, Greenpeace, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC), New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Riverkeeper and Shut Down Indian Point Now, a new group recently formed in New York City.

Celebrated composer, conductor and musician, David Amram will be on site for a musical performance prior to the press conference. He will share his own very personal reaction to what happened in Japan as his son was touring there. The groups will be joined by New York City Residents and area residents eager to use the last public forum before the Indian Point relicensing hearing in the fall to make their concerns heard to the NRC.

Questions for the NRC will include topics such as why the following measure for public health and safety have not been implemented:

Full containment for the spent fuel pool

Independent back up electricity and cooling for the spent fuel pool

Moving spent fuel rods into hardened dry cask storage as quickly as possible

Extending the evacuation zone to 50 miles as recommended by the United States government for Americans in Japan

Remedying the flaws and deficiencies regarding the emergency evacuation plan raised by the James Lee Witt report

Many groups will call for a moratorium on re licensing Indian Point until the lesson learned at Fukushima can be thoroughly evaluated and the public can be protected from disasters that include failure of multiple reactors at one site, something that the NRC has previously refused to plan for since it felt that this was not a possibility. Some groups will call for the closure of the plant because of the danger to 20 million residents within a 50 mile area. All groups concur that while there may be a low probability of catastrophic releases of radiation from Indian Point, the impact is so high that the diminishing amount of electricity Indian Point has contracted to provide to our grid is just not worth the risk.

Susan Shapiro of Rockland Citizens Awareness Network will present her study on the property values in the affected 50 mile area.

Gary Shaw, IPSEC Core Group member and founding member of Croton Close Indian Point, stated, "Fukushima is a wake up call for everyone about what can happen at any nuclear plant anywhere and now at Indian Point we know that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not been doing a good job of maintaining high regulatory standards. When Entergy could not meet design base fire safety standards the NRC lowered the standards. When the NRC required back up generators for the spent fuel pools Entergy immediately applied for an exemption and it was quickly granted. It is time that the United States stopped putting its head in the sand and look at other industrialized counties and what they are doing in regard to the ongoing Fukushima disaster and what they are doing to meet their energy needs without nuclear power. At the very least, we need a moratorium on relicensing Indian Point."

"This meeting is the perfect platform to present a unified voice about the gaping safety failures that exist at Indian Point in the wake of what we have learned from the tragedy in Japan, and the NRC’s shocking lack of urgency in addressing them,” said Paul Gallay, Executive Director & Hudson Riverkeeper. “According to former FEMA director James Lee Witt, the 10 mile evacuation plan won’t protect the public at Indian Point, so the concept of trying to evacuate millions of people within a 50 mile radius is pure fantasy. To add insult to injury, the NRC refuses to address the risk posed by spent fuel pools packed with toxic nuclear waste, despite evidence from Fukushima that the nuclear waste pools there released huge amounts of radiation into the environment. We cannot afford to sit by and watch as the NRC conducts another ‘business as usual’ review and refuses to address the public’s concerns about these critical issues in a meaningful way.”

“Hudson River Sloop Clearwater has joined 45 organizations petitioning the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to immediately suspend all licensing and relicensing activities at 21 pending nuclear reactors, until the ‘lessons learned’ from Fukushima can be incorporated into these proceedings,” said Clearwater’s Environmental Director, Manna Jo Greene. “Given Indian Point’s abysmal track record, we believe the plant should be retired. Creating more highly radioactive waste to be stored on site is extremely dangerous, especially when cleaner, safer sources of energy are readily available."

"Countries around the world are moving away from dangerous nuclear power and toward safe solutions like renewable energy and energy efficiency. Japan has already shut down especially risky nuclear reactors that put millions at risk, and Germany is phasing out nuclear power entirely," said Canem Ozyildirim, Greenpeace organizer in New York. "It's time our public officials learn the lessons of Fukushima and shut down Indian Point."

The NRC and the Indian Point plant owner, Entergy, repeatedly vow to “learn the lessons of Fukushima” but it’s largely business as usual, with the NRC proceeding towards relicensing the plant for another 20 years beyond its designed lifespan without considering highly relevant safety criteria, and without even enforcing regulations on such basics as fire protection and seismic standards. It is time to close the plant and stop making more of the dangerous high level radioactive waste and invest in greener alternatives and more efficient use of energy.

To read the study and NRC assessment, visit: