May 04, 2011

Evacuation Plan:
in this moment Entergy's got it wrong

Background
It has been explained to me that after the 2003 Witt report, the 10-mile evacuation zone was reduced to 2 miles, plus an 8-mile wedge in the direction of the wind. I spent some time online this morning exploring the subject of evacuating Indian Point. [A PDF of the Witt report can be downloaded from this Riverkeeper page under "Indian Pt Reports."]

What follows is not only a report of inaccurate and incomplete information on the Entergy webpage [NOTE: this page was fixed in late May or early June though I leave this post up to show to time-date the problem] but some problems I encountered with the interactive plan accessed through Westchestergov.com. (There's also a downloadable hard copy of the 2010-2011 Evacuation Plan, quick view here, that has been mailed to residents in the 10-mile radius.)


Problems
First of all, my search for an evacuation plan produced more than one report or website (e.g., drafts and final documents prepared by Witt and Goldblatt as well as the plan on the Entergy site). Using the Westchester phone number on the Entergy page, I was connected with a person who I was told is "a specialist" on Indian Point.

When I mentioned the Entergy page I had questions about, he told me that although their map (reproduced above right) is correct, the information on that page refers to an evacuation plan that's long been superseded. There is no such thing, for example, as an ERPA (Evacuation Response Planning Area), which is referred to in this passage:

Nor is there any truth in this statement:

I told him I was shocked that such misleading information is on their site, and he said: "I'm going to call them right now." When I spoke with him an hour later with other issues, he mentioned that he did, in fact, contact Entergy after we spoke and it would be fixed.

Perhaps they'll make that fix, but I'm documenting what's up there now in real time. It's been how long since the Entergy site has been giving this misguided information?


Using the interactive site
The 2010-2011 Plan defines the EPZ (Emergency Planning Zone) as the area within a 10-mile radius of Indian Point. Definitions of important terms (e.g., "sheltering," "protective action," "EAS"), an explanations of the alert system, and lists of evacuation centers and bus routes can be found in both the online and hard copy versions.

What is not so explicit (but was told to me by the man on the phone) is that the old ERPAs have been replaced by "municipal boundaries," which, except for Verplanck and Montrose, match village and township names. The municipalities are shown on this webpage, but not in the hard copy. People should be listening for these names in any media alerts giving instructions on what to do in an emergency.

I played with the online plan for a while to see how it works, and found it's not as clearly laid out as it should be, particularly in an emergency. (I am fully aware the entire plan is unworkable in the first place, but it's what they're working with at the present time.)

Accessed from Westchestergov.com, clicking on the third yellow tab (Emergency Info) gets you to Severe Weather. It's not an error, but you might miss the yellow Indian Point tab way over on the right. That tab connects to a page of various links, including two leading to an interactive site that calls up a variety of information relevant to the address you input.

By way of example, here's what I found for my street address in 10520:

(I will not quibble about the typos in the words "address" and "recommended," though it's unpleasant to see even tiny things wrong on a site as important as this one.) Information given includes the distance between my house and Indian Point, the current status of my village, my reception center (which I see to be miles of winding Westchester roads away), and where a bus would conceivably pick me up.

CAUTION: (1) Not all computers have the "GO" button to execute the search in a visible position on the screen. You have to scroll over to the far right to see it. (2) Do not go to "Show Additional Data on Map" if you haven't already entered your address, because you'll only get info for the default address (148 Martine Ave.). Fill out your address first, execute the search, and then access the "Show Additional Data on Map" link from that page.

Now clicking on "Show Additional Data on Map" gets to a checklist containing the item "Emergency Zones." Clicking in this box puts nothing on the map in my case except some bus stops, but clicking on the plus-sign produces a drop-list that looks like this:

If the map view is large enough, clicking in the first two boxes will place an icon of the plant on the map and the 10-mile radius. I am not sure what the last item, EPZ Muncipality, does because this whole map is designed to give people the current evacuation status. I'm guessing that since there is no red or blue on the map my house is located on, we are not at the present time being told to evacuate or shelter. Does the white box (No Action) really mean no color applied on the map? I can't make it out.


I told the man this was not all that clear on the webpage. "Status" can mean two things: current status in real time on the one hand, or whether in a real emergency residents at the specified address would be asked to evacuate or shelter.

I also don't know how to get a block of textual information off the map, though I'm on a Mac, and the software might work better for PCs. Design features like this usually have a "Close" button. As it stands now, the only way I can see what's happening under that block of text is to move the map out from under it with my cursor, which is awkward and unnecessary.

The last point I made to the man on the phone is that the link to Indian Point does not get you over to Entergy itself, which is the plant owner and therefore in charge.

Citizens should always be able to link directly to the websites of the industrial giants that serve them.

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