Since we no longer trust scientists, here’s a TV entertainment show on the nuclear waste problem . . .
So then, why are we in a rush about the decommissioning of Indian Point? Maybe this . . .
Demands for more oversight at Indian Point after recent testing
Inspection at Indian Point Unit 3 finds 256 of 832 critical reactor core bolts impaired
An inspection done at Indian Point Energy Center in March revealed that roughly 30% of the bolts in Unit 3, are impaired. Just over a year ago, Unit 2 was inspected, and more than 25% of its reactor bolts were found to be impaired.
After reviewing these results, members of Riverkeeper, a watchdog organization dedicated to protecting communities along the Hudson River, believe that high levels of radiation are to blame for the results and that Entergy, the energy company that operates Indian Point, waited too long to test Unit 3.
“They should’ve tested Unit 3 because the reactors are identical and they have similar operational histories, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission waited a year until this shutdown to test it, which was a year too late. In the meantime, they put the public safety at risk for a full year,” said Cliff Weathers, of Riverkeeper.
“These bolts hold together the inner walls of the reactor, if they are missing and these walls were to come apart, this could cause a nuclear problem where we would have a release of radiation into the atmosphere,” Weathers said. [SEnRG Note: For a meltdown at Indian Point the radiation ‘Maximum Fatality’ area is a 17 mile radius; the ‘Maximum Injury’ area is a 50 mile radius that includes much of the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area and all of Manhattan]
Before Unit 3 is reopened, Riverkeeper is requesting a full cause analysis report.
Earlier this year, Entergy, New York State, and Riverkeeper decided that both units at Indian Point would shut down in 2020 and 2021.
See the full report on Fios1 here
The safety review Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered of a gas pipeline that runs about a quarter mile from the Indian Point nuclear plant hasn’t been completed more than a year later. Cuomo ordered a state review of Spectra’s Algonquin Incremental Market pipeline in February 2016 after protesters held a candlelight vigil outside his Westchester County home. Local residents and environmental activists have raised concerns about the proximity of the pipeline to Indian Point. The co-founder of Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion, a local opposition group, said she was pleased to hear at the time about the investigation but SAPE declined to congratulate the governor “until we actually see the assessment.” “We were obviously skeptical for a good reason because we knew this might happen,” Susan Van Dolsen said.
See the full story at: Politico
Info from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Website:
“Improving” Decommissioning but with No Waste Disposal Plan?
[Annotated by SEnRG in the Interest of “Truth in Decommissioning”]
Improving the Decommissioning Program
“Several nuclear power plants completed decommissioning in the 1990s without a viable option for disposing of their spent nuclear fuel, [there still isn’t one] because the federal government did not construct a geologic repository as planned. Accordingly, the NRC implemented regulations allowing licensees to sell off part of their land once it meets NRC release criteria, while maintaining a small parcel [“small” compared to . . . . ? IP has over 2,700 fuel assemblies onsite already – and about 34 of them fit in each dry cask for storage] under license for storing the spent fuel. These stand-alone facilities, called “independent spent fuel storage installations,” remain under license and NRC regulation. Licensees are responsible for security and for maintaining insurance and funding for eventual decommissioning. [Note: required insurance is totally inadequate in the event of a nuclear emergency, dry casks have a limited lifetime and troubling failure rate, no sign of any permanent storage solution.]
As more facilities complete decommissioning, the NRC is implementing “lessons learned” [isn’t that something one says after an abject failure?] in order to improve the program and focus on the prevention of future legacy sites that are difficult to clean up. Applications for new reactors must now describe how design and operations will minimize contamination during the plant’s operating life and facilitate eventual decommissioning [yes, nuclear dinosaurs have an anticipated production life of 40 years and an anticipated hazard life of 240,000 years (not a typo)]. New regulations published in 2010 require plant operators to be more vigilant in preventing contamination during operations, and to clean up and monitor any contamination that does occur.”
Wow – NRC didn’t ask how operators would minimize contamination before?? And operators were not required to clean it up????
Come back regularly for more details of the “Adventures in Decommissioning” story happening soon at a nuclear plant near YOU!
Notes on the Decommissioning Process from the NRC
[Annotated by SEnRG in the Interest of “Truth in Decommissioning”]
Licensees may choose from three decommissioning strategies: DECON, SAFSTOR, or ENTOMB
“Under DECON (immediate dismantling), soon after the nuclear facility closes, equipment, structures, and portions of the facility containing radioactive contaminants are removed or decontaminated to a level that permits release of the property and termination of the NRC license. [There might be enough employees around to know how the plant works – and what’s broken.]
Under SAFSTOR, often considered “deferred dismantling,” a nuclear facility is maintained and monitored in a condition that allows the radioactivity to decay; afterwards, the plant is dismantled and the property decontaminated. [50 years of doing nothing – to give the operator a chance to go broke and current employees to die off.]
Under ENTOMB, radioactive contaminants are permanently encased on site in structurally sound material such as concrete. The facility is maintained and monitored until the radioactivity decays to a level permitting restricted release of the property. [240,000 years. Availability of this process admits that no real waste disposal solution is foreseeable.] To date, no NRC-licensed facilities have requested this option. [Could it be that no safe technology is available?]
The licensee may also choose to adopt a combination of the first two choices in which some portions of the facility are dismantled or decontaminated while other parts of the facility are left in SAFSTOR. The decision may be based on factors besides radioactive decay, such as availability of waste disposal sites. [We repeat: NONE]“
Does this picture of the demolition of a nuclear reactor make you nervous?
So What Happens Then?
The NRC’s “Phases of Decommissioning” are:
“The requirements for power reactor decommissioning activities may be divided into three phases: (1) initial activities; (2) major decommissioning and storage; and (3) license termination activities.
1) Initial Activities
When a nuclear power plant licensee shuts down the plant permanently, it must submit a written certification of permanent cessation of operations to the NRC within 30 days. [OK so far] When radioactive nuclear fuel is permanently removed from the reactor vessel, [how long is that?] the owner must submit another written certification to the NRC, surrendering its authority to operate the reactor or load fuel into the reactor vessel. This eliminates the obligation to adhere to certain requirements needed only during reactor operation. [Just curious – which ones are those?]
Within two years after submitting the certification of permanent closure, [so basically after the DECON “immediate dismantling”?] the licensee must submit a post-shutdown decommissioning activities report to the NRC. This report provides a description of the planned decommissioning activities, a schedule for accomplishing them, and an estimate of the expected costs. [Shouldn’t the costs have been calculated before the plant started operation and before the decommissioning funds were accrued and distributed?] The report must discuss the reasons for concluding [???] that environmental impacts associated with the site-specific decommissioning activities have already been addressed in previous environmental analyses. [So we know that the environmental impacts have been addressed already – but not the costs ???] Otherwise, the licensee must request a license amendment for approval of the activities and submit to the NRC details on the additional impacts of decommissioning on the environment.
After receiving the report, the NRC publishes a notice of receipt in the Federal Register, [Handy tip: the Federal Register makes great reading for insomniacs!] makes the report available for public review and comment, and holds a public meeting in the vicinity of the plant [Um, how long after they’ve already made all of the decisions??] to discuss the licensee’s intentions.”
2) Major Decommissioning Activities
Ninety days after the NRC receives the planning report, the owner can begin major decommissioning activities without specific NRC approval. [In other words, the NRC can’t be bothered to look at these reports and respond.] These include permanent removal of such major components as the reactor vessel, steam generators, large piping systems, pumps, and valves. [Not to worry, no safety problems with that work . . . ]
However, decommissioning activities conducted without specific prior NRC approval must not prevent release of the site for possible unrestricted use, result in there being no reasonable assurance that adequate funds will be available for decommissioning, or cause any significant environmental impact not previously reviewed. [Love those double negatives! Rough Translation: the activities must allow for site reuse, maintain adequate decommissioning funds, and not do any environmental damage that hasn’t already been allowed.] If any decommissioning activity does not meet these terms, the licensee is required to submit a license amendment request, which would provide an opportunity for a public hearing.
Initially, the owner can use up to 3 percent of its set-aside funds for decommissioning planning. The remainder becomes available 90 days after submittal of the planning report unless the NRC staff has raised objections. [Cue deafening silence from the NRC staff.]
3) License Termination Activities
The owner is required to submit a license termination plan within two years of the expected license termination. The plan addresses [in a cursory manner] each of the following: site characterization, remaining site dismantlement activities, plans for site remediation, detailed plans for final radiation surveys for release of the site, updated estimates of remaining decommissioning costs, and a supplement to the environmental report describing any new information or significant environmental changes associated with the final cleanup. Most plans envision releasing the site to the public for unrestricted use, [Unrestricted? Let’s put a bomb factory there – or an active quarry. There’s a quarry next to the Indian Point site.] meaning any residual radiation would be below NRC’s limits of 25 millirem annual exposure and there would be no further regulatory controls by the NRC. [How would they notice the difference? Almost no NRC controls while operating.]
Any plan proposing release of a site for restricted use must describe the site’s end use, public consultation, institutional controls, and financial assurance needed to comply with the requirements for license termination for restricted release. [So it’s harder and more expensive for the company to maintain safety controls than it is to just walk away?]
The license termination report requires NRC approval of a license amendment. [Get out the rubber stamp . . .] Before approval can be given, an opportunity for hearing is published and a public meeting is held near the plant site. [ . . . and the ear plugs!]
The NRC uses a standard review plan (NUREG-1700, “Standard Review Plan for Evaluating Nuclear Power Reactor License Termination Plans”) to ensure high quality and uniformity of the license termination plan reviews. [Uniformity in approval. Contamination? What contamination?]
If the remaining dismantlement has been performed in accordance with the approved LTP and the NRC’s final survey demonstrates that the facility and site are suitable for release, the NRC issues a letter terminating the operating license [and letting the company walk free].
That’s not all folks. More “Adventures in Decommissioning” soon!
Where will power come from?
A February report commissioned by Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council, longtime Indian Point adversaries, said the lost power could be made up through energy efficiencies like insulation and LED lighting, coupled with a pipeline that will deliver 1,000 megawatts of power down from Canada.
State officials say the Champlain Hudson Power Express, a 333-mile underground power line, will funnel hydropower from Canada to New York City. The $2.2 billion project would carry electricity southward by way of cables dug under waterways and railroad tracks.
Yet Another Reason . . . .
1) to shut it down
2) to demand state-of-the-art decommissioning
Inspection at Indian Point Unit 3 finds 256 of 832 critical reactor core bolts impaired; result is even worse than at Unit 2
SEnRG Notes: At the time the damaged bolts in Unit 2 were discovered, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had this to say: “Entergy and the NRC also assessed any implications for Indian Point Unit 3 (the currently operating unit). Entergy has reported that Indian Point Unit 3 is believed to be less susceptible to the baffle-former bolt degradation condition for several reasons – less operational time, resulting in less irradiation of the bolt material; fewer thermal cycles, resulting in less cumulative fatigue on the Unit 3 baffle-former bolts; and slightly lower differential pressure across the baffle plates.” * — So of course no immediate inspection of Unit 3 was required.
BUCHANAN, NY — A little more than a year after an inspection of Indian Point nuclear plant’s Unit 2 reactor found an unprecedented number of “reactor core baffle bolts” to be either missing or impaired, an inspection of Unit 3 has found an even higher number of these critical bolts impaired at that reactor. Those bolts are being replaced while the reactor remains shut down for refueling.
Entergy announced last week that at least 256 of the 832 bolts that keep the inner plates of the reactor core from coming apart were impaired at Unit 3, degraded by the high levels of radiation inside the reactor. In addition, Entergy said three bolts could not be tested and 11 others were replaced. The condition of those 11 bolts is currently unclear. In all, Entergy says 270 bolts, roughly a third, will be replaced.
The purpose of the reactor plates is to direct cooling water through the fuel assemblies and allow control rods to be inserted into the reactor in order to safely shut down the plant. In 2016, after 227 of the 832 bolts holding together this critical structure inside the Unit 2 reactor were found to be either degraded or missing, Riverkeeper registered its objection that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed Indian Point Unit 3 to operate without determining whether bolts in that reactor were similarly degraded and in need of replacement. The NRC is obligated to provide adequate assurance of safety at this troubled plant.
“By deciding to delay the inspection of Unit 3 until the current scheduled refueling outage, the NRC played a dangerous game,” Riverkeeper President #Paul Gallay said. “Entergy claimed that the bolts at Unit 3 were less prone to degradation. That claim has proved to be false. There was simply no assurance that Unit 3 was safe once the serious issues with the baffle bolts became clear. The results of the current inspection confirm that — as we demanded when the degraded Unit 2 bolts were discovered — Unit 3 should have been shut down immediately for inspection. NRC gambled with public safety by allowing Unit 3 to operate uninspected for another year.”
The extremely large number of failed bolts found in the Unit 3 reactor raises questions regarding the reliability of Entergy’s plant safety prognosis. The discovery indicates, in retrospect, that Unit 3 was operating under “unanalyzed conditions,” and was in danger of being unsafe to operate.
Riverkeeper demands that the NRC issue an incident report regarding the missing bolts in the Unit 3 Reactor to ensure that the reactors do not again operate without adequate assurance of safety. The organization is also asking the NRC to conduct and provide to the public a root cause analysis to determine what led to such a high rate of failure and why Entergy’s predictions about the bolts were so wrong.
Through an agreement between Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Entergy and Riverkeeper, Indian Point’s Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors are scheduled to close in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
“The state had the foresight to strike the right deal at the right time to protect the health and welfare of the 20 million people who live and work within 50 miles of Indian Point,” said Gallay. “As part of the closure agreement, Entergy agreed to annual inspections by state-designated representatives on issues pertaining to continued operation of its reactors through 2021. This recent revelation further signifies the importance of continued and more rigorous inspections of this aging, increasingly unreliable nuclear plant.”
“It’s becoming obvious that the troubles of both reactors are the result of a shared, integral design flaw coupled with inadequate inspection and maintenance. The consequences of this flaw just cannot be overstated,” said Gallay. “These problems aren’t going away because the plant is scheduled to shut down. It’s incumbent on the NRC to ensure the safe operation of the plant over the next four years of operation and for the decades of decommissioning that will follow.
“Outside of the damage found at Unit 2 last year, the amount of deterioration found in the reactor’s bolts is unprecedented. No other nuclear plant in the U.S. has come close to this disturbing level of disrepair,” said Gallay. “These bolts perform a critical safety and operational function. The failure of a few bolts is considered manageable, but the significant loss we’ve seen at both reactors is disturbing, as it could cause a lack of structural stability in the reactor if the bolts fail.”
What havoc can these damaged bolts create? Loose pieces may cause damage to critical components such as fuel rods, valves, and control rods inside the reactor. Degraded bolts can lead to damage to the core structure and eventually the fuel. Here’s one scenario: If degraded bolts allow the core baffle and former plates to separate, makeup water supplied to the reactor vessel by the emergency core cooling systems could flow through these openings instead of flowing through the reactor core. If enough makeup flow bypasses the reactor core, the nuclear fuel will overheat and become damaged. The result: lots of radioactive material is released from the damaged fuel rods and out of the reactor vessel through the ruptured pipe.
“Immediately upon learning about the alarming problems with the Unit 2 reactor in March 2016, Riverkeeper called for Unit 3 reactor to also close for inspection,” said Gallay. “The reactors are virtually identical: They’re a few years apart in age and have similar operational histories. By the standard set by other federal regulatory agencies, the NRC should have done more than just audit the structural problems present at the Unit 2’s reactor. There should have been an immediate inspection of the bolts in the Unit 3 reactor.”
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is Concerned About Indian Point Safety
Senator Schumer warned that “The Coast Guard plays a vital role protecting Indian Point against potential terror attack so any cuts – especially the large and unwarranted ones now being proposed by this administration – undermine our safety and should be rejected.” He was speaking on March 15th against a plan to cut 14% from the Coast Guard’s budget.
Terrorists have considered Indian Point as a target in the past and the planes that destroyed the World Trade Center on 9/11 flew up the Hudson River, passing close to the plant. Since those attacks, the Coast Guard has been assigned a round-the-clock duty to keep any vessels from coming within 500 yards of the nuclear facility that’s only 25 miles north of New York City. Schumer went on to state, “We know from experience, from recent attacks that Homeland Security needs more support to keep us safe, not less, especially when the plan is to divert money to make the American taxpayer build a border wall that is absurdly expensive and that the experts tell us will do nothing to keep us safe from would be terrorists,”
In the meantime . . .
Rob Astorino wants to sue New York state over Indian Point shutdown
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said Wednesday that he wants to sue the state of New York over the planned shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, accusing his longtime rival Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sidestepping public input . . .
* * * *
“The law requires that a full environmental review needs to be done before an agreement is reached, not after,” Astorino said. “Whether you are for nuclear power or against it, there is no debate that the public had a right to know about the impact of closing Indian Point before the deal was reached by three men in a room. If our laws are to have any meaning at all, then the process has to be fair, open and reviewable.”
Astorino will need the backing of county legislators before moving ahead with litigation. Plans are to file a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Westchester County by the first week of May.
The lawsuit will look at whether the state bypassed the state Environmental Quality Review Act, which affords the public a full airing of a broad array of impacts before a proposal is approved, county officials say.
[SEnRG notes: Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino welcomed Spectra Energy with open arms, with their plan to put their massive AIM Pipeline underneath Indian Point. Now that Entergy has decided to close the plant, he’s demanding an environment impact statement and an examination of the economic costs.
Why so concerned now? Because you want tax dollars? What will Westchester be worth if the pipeline ruptures and Indian Point goes up in flames County Executive?
You could have fought Spectra to ensure safer conditions at the plant, demanded a risk assessment, but you didn’t. You welcomed them. Now that Entergy wants to close the plant, you want to force them to remain in operation? You can’t have it both ways!]
Astorino, with County Legislator John Testa, a Republican who represents Peekskill, Buchanan, and parts of Cortlandt nearby, made the announcement during an afternoon press conference with the reactors of Indian Point behind him
It’s unclear whether any of the towns and villages will join as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Marsha Gordon, the president of the Business Council of Westchester, expressed support for the lawsuit.
Astorino said that in addition to economic impact, an environmental review would address just how much money will be needed to decommission Indian Point. The plant’s spent nuclear fuel rods are expected to be stored in dry casks at the plant for decades to come.
But . . .
Michael Kaplowitz the Westchester Legislative Chairman Says the Indian Point Suit Is ‘Dead in the Water’
WHITE PLAINS, NY — Michael Kaplowitz, chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, said Thursday the lawmakers would not support the County Executive’s plan to sue New York State in an attempt to force an Environmental Impact Review on the closing of the Indian Point nuclear facility.
* * * *
“While I appreciate his focus on Indian Point and understand there’s work to be done, a majority of my colleagues agree that a lawsuit as suggested is not appropriate and will not be supported,” Kaplowitz told reporters at a press conference Thursday morning. “It’s dead on arrival. There is no path to nine votes.”
Indian Point is closing by 2021 under a deal brokered by the plant’s owner, Entergy, with New York State and Riverkeeper, who had multiple lawsuits and other legal proceedings fighting the plant’s operation and Entergy’s application for renewal of its licenses. As a result, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board closed the Indian Point relicensing hearing in March, after 10 years of fighting.
Kaplowitz said he had talked to Astorino today, before the press conference, to tell him he had spoken to more than nine county legislators who did not support the idea of a lawsuit under SEQRA. Nine votes would be necessary to authorize the suit. There are three basic reasons lawmakers don’t agree with Astorino, Kaplowitz said: the cost/benefit ratio; the worthiness of the purpose; and the timing.
* * * *
The closure “is going to create economic paralysis in that corner of the county. A lawsuit simply slows everything down,” he said. Instead, he urged the governor’s task force, the local task force, and everyone else who’s a stakeholder, begin talking about a plan for the future that includes new uses for the property and the region’s need for reliable energy sources.
* * * *
And it looks like Astorino hasn’t been reading the polls – he’d never do anything that might lose him a vote . . .
Open or closed? NYers take stance on Indian Point: poll
Here’s another video to help us think about decommissioning:
Town of Cortlandt Gears Up for Nuke Plant Closing
A hearing, a task force, & a pledge are all part of the precautions the Town of Cortlandt is taking to assure a safer decommissioning process for the Indian Point nuclear plant just north of NY City.
SEnRG President Nancy Vann urges local, county and state officials to take decommissioning process very seriously. See comments at 2:15:18 (near the end of the video) here:
Read a recent update regarding the Town’s actions here.
For ongoing info see the town’s website here: http://www.townofcortlandt.com/index.cfm
And for the Cortlandt petition see: http://www.townofcortlandt.com/Documents/Petition.pdf
But as we know, with nukes it’s “promise them anything . . .”
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirms use of depleted uranium munitions against Islamic State
By Andrew V. Pestano | Feb. 15, 2017 at 10:15 AM
Feb. 15 (UPI) — U.S. Central Command said it destroyed Islamic State targets in Syria with depleted uranium rounds despite a promise not to use the ammunition.
CENTCOM spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques told Foreign Policy that Air Force A-10 fixed-wing aircraft on Nov. 16 and Nov. 22, 2015, shot 5,265 armor-piercing 30mm rounds containing depleted uranium, which destroyed nearly 350 Islamic State vehicles in Syria’s eastern desert. The militant group is also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL.
Depleted uranium, or DU, ammunition is effective in penetrating heavily armored vehicles and tanks when fused with other metal alloys but use of it has been criticized for potentially damaging public health and the environment.
* * * *
John Moore, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, in March 2015 said the depleted uranium ammunition, which was used hundreds of thousands of times during the 2003 Iraq war, would not be used in the campaign against the Islamic State.
“U.S. and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve,” Moore previously said.
Following the 2003 Iraq invasion, Iraqi local communities criticized the United States’ use of depleted uranium ammunition alleging the toxic material causes cancer and birth defects. “Since the first Gulf War, DU has been used in the Balkans and Kosovo, and, more recently in the United States’ Middle East invasions,” the Montreal-based Centre for Research on Globalization said. “It has been suspected as the culprit in lung and kidney illnesses because it is soluble in water and can be ingested as a fine dust through inhalation.”
A 2014 report by the United Nations said the Iraqi government considers use of depleted uranium weapons “a danger to human beings and the environment.”
The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons said the areas contaminated by the depleted uranium in Syria “pose a risk to civilian health and must be isolated and addressed as soon as conditions allow.”
State regulator: We’re ready for Indian Point closure
ALBANY – The head of the state Public Service Commission assured state lawmakers at a budget hearing Monday that New York is prepared for the shuttering of Indian Point over the next four years.
Audrey Zibelman, the commission’s chairwoman, testified New York has been planning for years for the Westchester County nuclear plant’s eventual closure.
“In Indian Point, we planned for this,” Zibelman said. “And as a result of planning for this, we have solutions that are not going to cost ratepayers’ money.”
Entergy, the Buchanan plant’s owner, announced Jan. 6 an agreement with the state to shut down the plant by 2021 — with the first reactor to shutter in 2020.
The surprise announcement drew immediate concerns from local leaders about how the region would replace the plant’s power, whether it would lead to higher energy costs and if local governments would loss the significant property-tax revenue from the plant.
* * * *
She said the Public Service Commission, which oversees the state’s energy needs, started in 2013 looking at alternative energy sources for Indian Point as Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeatedly vowed to close the facility.
* * * *
“In contrast to an immediate closure of three nuclear plants that we weren’t counting on, a planned closure where the market has a chance to respond allows us to get there in a much more economically efficient way,” Zibelman said.
For the full article, click here
Indian Point Nuclear Plant to Shut by 2021!
On January 6th a story was leaked to the New York Times about the agreement to shut down the Indian Point nuclear plant by 2021. We all held our breaths over the weekend waiting to see if Governor Cuomo would confirm that a deal had be finalized. Even without that ripples of joy ran through the communities close to the plant.
By the time final confirmation of the closure came, many of us were ecstatic.
Yes, we’re concerned: for the workers, for the town and the school system supported by payments from the plant, for the businesses in the area that worry about loss of income. But those problems are dwarfed by the very real threat that a nuclear catastrophe could make the workers, the town, the school, the businesses all history within minutes.
But, as I commented to the NY Times, “I just want people to realize that the fact that Indian Point is closing — and not immediately — doesn’t mean it will be safe right away.” Decommissioning a nuclear plant is a complex and lengthy process and many risks will remain for a very, very long time.
There is more fissionable material stored at Indian Point than there was at the Fukushima plant when it was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami. Did I mention that the Indian Point plant sits near the intersection of two different earthquake fault lines? Or that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rated one of its reactors the most likely to suffer core damage from an earthquake of any nuclear plant in the U.S.? Or that it’s located in the most densely populated region of any nuclear plant in the world? Or that the area affected by a serious nuclear accident would encompass all of Manhattan, the financial center of the country and home of the U.N.?
Gov. Cuomo and Riverkeeper have begun the task of making our region safer from nuclear disaster. Let’s make sure it’s not a question of one step forward and two steps back!
Indian Point poses risks to region: Riverkeeper
Paul Gallay 3 p.m. EDT May 17, 2016
All this talk about Indian Point being ‘safe, secure and vital’ is just bunk
Former Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Christine Todd Whitman touts the dubious benefits of keeping the Indian Point Energy Center open while ignoring the grim realities: This aging nuclear power plant is becoming increasingly unreliable and puts the welfare of 20 million people at risk every day. The plant continues to take an enormous toll on the life in the river, killing tiny fish and eggs through its destructive intakes and heated discharges.
Just this month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission admitted that it failed to do a proper estimate of the damage that an accident at Indian Point would create. The NRC now acknowledges that its analysis was misleading, used erroneous data and violated the National Environmental Policy Act. Another analysis needs to be conducted, and an honest, rigorous assessment should show that all this talk about Indian Point being “safe, secure and vital” is just bunk.
Indian Point has had seven unplanned shutdowns in just a year; a huge spike in radioactive groundwater contamination, and an unprecedented degree of failed bolts in the core of the Unit 2 Reactor. Though operational problems can be expected at any power plant, they’re happening with alarming frequency at this nuclear facility. Each day Indian Point remains open, we’re collateral in a game of Russian roulette, with our lives and environment at stake.
Meanwhile, a huge increase in the availability of replacement power in the past several years, combined with improvements in energy efficiency, mean that Indian Point’s power is no longer needed to keep the lights on, even on the hottest summer day.
Indian Point is able to generate just over 2,000 megawatts of electricity, or about 10 percent of peak summer demand in the New York metropolitan area. In the past two years, we’ve added an additional 1,500 megawatts of energy capacity from other sources: existing electricity surpluses in New York State, recently restored power generation from plants in the Hudson Valley and New York City, transmission improvements in the power grid in the lower Hudson Valley and targeted energy efficiency gains by Con Edison.
And, according to the New York Independent System Operator — a nonprofit agency charged with managing the state’s electricity market — downstate load forecasts for this summer have dropped by about 500 megawatts, due to increases in solar power installations, energy efficiency and demand-side management. Ongoing efficiency and renewable energy projects will continue to make up the difference, thanks to $5 billion in planned energy investments by the state. By 2020, there should be little, if any, net increase in carbon emissions in replacing Indian Point’s power.
Secretary Whitman should take a cue from the NRC and reconsider the risks this plant poses to the region. If you’re looking for safe, sustainable energy to take us into the future, don’t look to the decrepit Indian Point as the answer.
The writer is president of Riverkeeper.
SEnRG VP Courtney Williams Discusses Indian Point and the AIM Pipeline on Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC
To listen click: here
Then watch here:
How far away from a pipeline would YOU want to be? 450 feet from an 8-inch pipeline? What about a 42-inch pipeline?
How far from Indian Point would you want a 42-inch pipeline to be? How close to an existing 30-inch pipeline (one that’s already at Indian Point!) would you want pipeline excavation to be done?
Then donate: here
UPDATE: On Thursday, June 16th, the judge gave a preliminary ruling that the NRC must respond to the Friends of the Earth emergency petition by June 21, and not defer it. The court denied interim relief to keep IP-2 offline in the meantime.
U.S. Court of Appeals Asked to Block Restart of Damaged Indian Point Nuclear Reactor
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has failed to protect the public.
Friends of the Earth and other environmental organizations filed an emergency petition Thursday with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking that the court compel the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to prevent Entergy from restarting an aging Indian Point nuclear reactor in Buchanan, New York, which was found to have unprecedented parts failure in its critical core cooling system. Entergy, the owner and operator of Indian Point, has repeatedly stated that it intends to start the reactor within days.
The degradation and/or disappearance of more than 1 in 3 critical bolts in the Indian Point Unit 2 nuclear reactor cooling system was revealed during a refueling outage in March. Despite the unprecedented failure of critical bolts—damage greater than that seen in any reactor before in either the U.S. or around the globe—Entergy immediately announced plans to restart the reactor in June after simply replacing the bolts.
Previously, on May 24, Friends of the Earth (FOE) filed an emergency petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission calling for intervention by the Commissioners of the agency to prevent restart of the reactor until the Commission had fully diagnosed the root cause of the degradation and determined that the unit was safe to operate despite the failure of more than a third of the bolts. That petition also called for an immediate shutdown of the damaged reactor’s twin, reactor Unit 3, to determine whether the reactor’s bolts have also disintegrated.
Instead of the Commissioners ruling on the FOE Emergency Petition, a staff review board sent Friends of the Earth an email on June 3 announcing that the emergency petition had been referred to staff for review under the so-called 2.206 process which normally takes years to complete. The staff board denied FOE’s request for emergency action to prevent restart of Unit 2 with no rationale or evidence to support that determination. Without action by a federal court, Indian Point 2 will be restarted, long before the NRC’s 2.206 process is completed.
In response, FOE, joined by the Nuclear Information Resource Service and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, have filed the emergency petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for writ of mandamus (agency action unreasonably delayed) to prevent restart of the flawed reactor while the NRC considers FOE’s request for the NRC to determine whether the unit can be made safe to operate. Given concerns that Entergy is racing to restart unit 2 in the face of mounting opposition, the petition asks that the Court issue an order directing the NRC to compel Entergy to power down reactor unit 2 pending final adjudication of the petition, in case the reactor has been rushed into service already.
Neither Entergy nor the NRC has provided a root cause analysis of the unprecedented degradation of bolts at Indian Point 2. Entergy hypothesizes that the bolts became brittle because of exposure to radiation and a hostile high temperature environment, but it offered no analysis to support it. In fact, Entergy has simply replaced the bolts without providing an analysis of why so many bolts were degraded at Indian Point (one-third) compared with other similar reactors (average less than 3 per cent), or whether the remaining 557 bolts can be expected to hold, despite being exposed to the same environment. The company’s objective is to restart the reactor in June, in time for the profitable peak summer air conditioning season. It has said that it will conduct an analysis of why the bolts broke or disappeared, but appears not willing to delay restarting Unit 2 under such a review has been done.
This is a matter of common sense denied: if a machine breaks, you have to figure out what is wrong and then fix it. Instead, at Indian Point, Entergy has decided that the priority is to get the damaged reactor up and running by summer to protect their profits. And the NRC is acting like a lap dog and not the watchdog assuring that the reactors are safe to operate. It has been repeatedly suggested that the NRC is a ‘captured’ agency, captive of the very industry they are directed by Congress to regulate. This is a disgraceful and shocking example of that corporate capture.
“In my day, the NRC was a real, independent regulator,” said Dave Freeman, who was the head of the New York Power Authority in the mid-1990s, which operated the Indian Point nuclear reactors at that time. “Now the agency seems primarily concerned with facilitating rather than regulating the nuclear industry.”
Just as the Space Shuttle Challenger was brought down by a seemingly minor faulty O-ring, Indian Point is in danger from untimely degradation and damage to key bolts. Located a mere 26 miles from New York City, a radiation release at Indian Point could reach Times Square in as little as 90 minutes in the right weather conditions, making evacuation of New York City impossible. The Indian Point reactors’ licenses expired in 2013 and 2015, respectively, and the plant is operating beyond its 40-year life span while the NRC considers whether to extend the license for an additional 20 years.
But on Friday, June 17th, Entergy’s Indian Point Unit 2 nuclear power plant returned to service!
Peekskill Daily Voice — Control room operators returned Unit 2 to operation Thursday, sending electricity to the grid after a planned shutdown that began March 7.
* * * *
Among the items included in previously scheduled inspections were bolts on a removable liner inside the reactor. Engineers replaced 278 bolts. Inspections confirmed that the plates secured by these bolts were not damaged and remained structurally sound and capable of performing their safety function while Unit 2 was in operation.
Fortunately the NY State Attorney General isn’t happy about this either:
AG scores victory in bid to shut down Indian Point
Thomas C. Zambito, The Journal News 7:23 a.m. EDT May 5, 2016
Federal safety regulators used the wrong data to analyze the potential economic impacts of a severe accident at the Indian Point nuclear power plant, a panel of commissioners for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled Wednesday.
The ruling, which reversed an earlier finding, will force the NRC to conduct a fresh analysis of the costs of a devastating accident and cleanup at the nuclear power plant in Buchanan, 24 miles north of New York City.
The decision was hailed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, whose office is spearheading the state’s challenge to Indian Point’s efforts to renew federal licenses for its two reactors. Schneiderman estimates that some 1.5 million workers would be needed in to take part in decontamination efforts in the event of a nuclear mishap, with cleanup costs surging as high as $1 trillion.
Schneiderman claims the NRC staff “systematically under counted the costs and impacts associated with severe reactor accidents at the Indian Point plant.”
“The Commissioners’ decision requires the NRC staff to do what should have been done years ago: provide an accurate account of cost-effective upgrades at this aging nuclear plant that can prevent or minimize severe accidents,” Schneiderman added.
In a statement, Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, said: “It’s important to note that none of the mitigation alternatives evaluated in the … analysis are measures the agency has deemed necessary for safety. They are supplemental to mitigation capabilities NRC safety regulations already require.”
A four-member panel of the NRC’s board of commissioners, in response to an appeal by the state Attorney General’s office, found that the NRC staff relied on data from sites that might include farmland or were geographically different than the area around Indian Point, Schneiderman noted.
“While typically we decline to second-guess the Board on its fact-specific conclusions, here the decision contains obvious material factual errors and could be misleading, warranting clarification,” the ruling noted.
Schneiderman argued that Entergy failed to properly assess the cleanup and underestimated the contamination costs of a severe accident.
“A severe accident at Indian Point could have a devastating impact on the (state), its citizens, communities, reservoirs, and natural resources. It is imperative, therefore, that the … analysis accurately reflect the costs of such an accident,” the attorney general’s office wrote in court papers.
The Cuomo Administration is pushing to shut down Indian Point amid concerns that an accident could prove disastrous for a heavily populated region close to New York City.
“Today’s decision by the NRC Commissioners to reverse an earlier administrative ruling, and to require a reexamination of the impacts caused by severe accidents at Indian Point and potential upgrades reaffirms our long-standing position that the aging nuclear power plant needs to be retired,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “Clearly, this facility poses too great a risk to the millions of people who live and work nearby. We will work closely with NRC staff and continue to monitor Indian Point’s daily operations to ensure that a proper analysis is done regarding any unacceptable dangers to ensure that the public is protected at all times.”
The NRC’s risk assessment typically takes into account the probability of different accidents and the cost needed to reduce the likelihood of a severe accident.
“Our decision today is not about flyspecking,” the commissioners’ ruling noted. “It is instead about responding with appropriate scrutiny and reasoned explanations to opposing views, which includes being able to explain and make available underlying assumptions in our environmental analyses.”
In November, three federal administrative judges said Entergy’s calculations were sufficient and the NRC’s approval of its method was reasonable. The issue was among several the state raised in 2012 as part of the review of Indian Point’s license renewal application. The judges are part of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, an independent arm of the NRC. They will ultimately recommend to the commission whether Indian Point should continue running for another 20 years.
NRC officials finally admit: Indian Point is not safe as they told us
By Paul Gallay on May 5, 2016
Yesterday, we learned that Entergy and staff at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had not done a proper estimate of the damage that an accident at Indian Point would create. The NRC threw out its assessment of the costs of such a catastrophic event at the troubled nuclear plant.
With this reversal, the NRC admits that their analysis was misleading, used erroneous data and was in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. It also means that another analysis needs to be conducted.
This decision is a victory for New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had argued that NRC staff systematically undercounted the cost and impact of a serious nuclear incident. It is also a victory for the 20 million people within a 50-mile radius of the plant, who are continuously placed at risk by this aging, unreliable plant.
A more honest assessment of the damage an accident at Indian Point could be a game changer in the fight to shut Indian Point. A rigorous analysis should show that all this talk about being “safe, secure and vital” is just bunk.
Indian Point has had seven unplanned shutdowns in just a year; a huge spike in radioactive groundwater contamination, and an unprecedented degree of failed bolts in the core of the Unit 2 Reactor. Together, these failures prove that the continued operation of the two reactors is a game of Russian roulette with our lives and our environment at stake.
Meanwhile, a huge increase in the availability of replacement power in the past several years, along with improvements in energy efficiency, mean that Indian Point’s power is no longer needed to keep the lights on, even on the hottest summer day.
The steady drumbeat of failure at Indian Point since last May proves that the only way to provide safe, sustainable power for the New York metro region is to close Indian Point. It’s time to stop pretending this aging nuclear facility is safe and necessary. It’s time to be honest with ourselves about the danger it poses to us, each day it remains open.
Literally falling apart!
Roger Witherspoon discusses the bolts – NRC obviously the “nuts”! Click Here
7 Top NRC Experts Break Ranks to Warn of Critical Danger at Aging Nuke Plants
Harvey Wasserman | March 9, 2016 11:48 am |
Seven top Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) experts have taken the brave rare step of publicly filing an independent finding warning that nearly every U.S. atomic reactor has a generic safety flaw that could spark a disaster.
The warning mocks the latest industry push to keep America’s remaining 99 nukes from being shut by popular demand, by their essential unprofitability, or, more seriously, by the kind of engineering collapse against which the NRC experts are now warning.
According to Reuters, the NRC engineers worry the flaw leaves U.S. reactors “vulnerable to so-called open-phase events in which an unbalanced voltage, such as an electrical short, could cause motors to burn out and reduce the ability of a reactor’s emergency cooling system to function. If the motors are burned out, backup electricity systems would be of little help.”
A small but well-funded band of reactor proponents has been pushing nukes as a solution to climate change. That idea was buried at recent global climate talks in Paris, where a strong corporate pro-nuke push went nowhere.
So some key industry supporters have shifted their efforts to keeping the old reactors open, which is where it gets really dangerous.
Each of the 99 remaining U.S. reactors is in its own particular state of advanced decay. All are based on technology dating to the 1950s, and all but one are at least 30 years old.
Ohio’s Davis-Besse has a shield wall that is literally crumbling.
The operating licenses have expired for two reactors at Indian Point, north of New York City, where tritium leaks, massive river pollution and a wide range of safety issues have prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to petition for their shut-down. Like numerous other U.S. reactors, Indian Point has been out of compliance with basic fire safety regulations for many years.
At California’s Diablo Canyon, veteran NRC resident inspector Michael Peck was transferred after warning the commission that these two huge nukes could not withstand the shocks that might be delivered by the dozen earthquake faults near which they sit. Peck’s report was ignored. It only became public after an intense independent investigation by Friends of the Earth and other green groups.
The NRC’s income is based on revenues from operating reactors, meaning shutting one runs counter to its financial interests, though Congress seems always ready to pump in more money as long as the regulators don’t regulate. President Obama referred to the NRC in 2007 as a “moribund agency.”
Now, however, seven top NRC experts have gone public with a warning that 98 of the 99 nukes still operating in the U.S. suffer from a serious cooling system defect that threatens every one of them.
As reported by Reuters, the engineers filed a 2.206 petition usually used by public interest groups to raise safety and other concerns with the commission. That active NRC employees took this route indicates the engineers were concerned about official inaction.
According to Reuters, the engineers worry the flaw leaves U.S. reactors “vulnerable to so-called open-phase events in which an unbalanced voltage, such as an electrical short, could cause motors to burn out and reduce the ability of a reactor’s emergency cooling system to function. If the motors are burned out, backup electricity systems would be of little help.”
Such an event in 2012 forced the Byron 2 reactor in Illinois to shut for about a week. The engineers’ petition says 13 such events have struck reactors worldwide in the past 14 years.
Nuclear expert David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists said the commission could have dealt with the issue years ago, but instead “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory” by letting the reactors continue operating without correcting the problem. “Something is not right with the safety culture at the agency,” Lochbaum told Reuters.
The NRC could have eased concerns years ago by forcing plants to take action, he said.
Instead, as with so many other unresolved safety issues, America’s crumbling reactor fleet continue to put the nation at increasing risk.
Powered by the tsunami of a Solartopian revolution in green energy, the movement to an economy based on renewables and efficiency continues to gain momentum. Even though nearly all their capital costs have long since been underwritten by the public, more and more of the U.S. reactor fleet have become unprofitable to operate.
But as made clear by this latest filing, a vital question remains unanswered: Will the safe energy movement be able to shut all these decayed reactors down before one of these increasingly serious unresolved issues brings yet another radioactive disaster to our shores?
Indian Point Has Been a Terrorist Target for Decades!
23 Years of Radioactive Rainfall at Indian Point
By Roger Witherspoon
For the past 23 years, Entergy engineers have tried unsuccessfully to ignore, live with, and then stop a radioactive rain from the Indian Point 2 reactor cavity from falling onto workers inside the massive containment building.
And after decades of ignoring the problem and having workers wear raincoats and rain hats to prevent radioactive contamination from the indoor precipitation, Entergy pledged in 2010 to try different methods in each of the next three refueling outages to see if they could stop the flow of water through the massive concrete and steel tub surrounding the reactor. That six-year plan was deemed acceptable by the NRC.
But Entergy’s efforts during the first two refueling outages failed. The plant is currently in the midst of the third refueling outage and NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said in an email exchange that the company has been unable to find or halt the leaks.
“Entergy is still working on a solution to the problem of leakage from the Unit 2 refueling cavity,” Sheehan wrote. “Thus far, the leakage has not yet been halted. But it’s important to note that leakage is captured in the containment building sump and then processed in the plant’s radioactive water cleanup system.
“We had a metallurgical specialist at the site this week to observe Unit 2 refueling activities. As part of his inspection, he reviewed the work on the refueling cavity. The results of that review will be documented in an upcoming inspection report.”
The steady drip of about 10 gallons per minute comes through the specially designed, concrete, waterproof cavity which surrounds the reactor and is filled with water in order for refueling to take place. Exposure to the reactor core would kill anyone in the area, so the cavity extends more than 30 feet above the reactor itself. When filled, the reactor head can be removed remotely and the 12-foot long fuel rods lifted out and transported on an underwater train through a flooded canal to the spent fuel pool in an adjacent building. ( http://bit.ly/1SasOhH )
According to Entergy’s July, 2001 Final Safety Analysis Report ( FSAR ) for Indian Point 2, which was submitted to the NRC and is a matter of public record, “The floor and walls of the canal are concrete, with wall and shielding water providing the equivalent of 6-ft of concrete.
“The refueling canal floor is 5-ft thick. The concrete walls and floor are lined with 0.25-in. thick stainless steel plate. The linings provide a leakproof membrane that is resistant to abrasion and damage during fuel handling operation” ( http://bit.ly/1Q617nX ).
But the FSAR, which was accepted by the NRC and the resident inspectors at Indian Point 2, came eight years after the 1993 discovery that reactor coolant was flowing unchecked through undetected leaks in the concrete and falling on workers in the rooms below at rates up to 10 gallons per minute. That was when Entergy first entered the leak into its “corrective action program” as an issue to be thoroughly examined and corrected. The coolant is radioactive, containing both tritium and a basket of isotopes from the 100 tons of irradiated fuel rods taken from the reactor.
At this decades-long leak rate, more than 4.6 million gallons of radioactive rain has fallen through the reactor cavity and transfer canal onto the work area below.
The reactor coolant also has high concentrations of boron, which is used to absorb neutrons and stifle the fission process. If borated water is not contained, the water will eventually evaporate and can leave a crystallized pile of boric acid in its wake. This is capable of corroding and eating through the carbon steel supports around the reactor, as well as the stainless steel lining of the reactor cavity and fuel transfer canal. It was boric acid, long ignored by FirstEnergy, which resulted in a football-sized cavity developing in the head of the reactor at the Davis Besse nuclear power plant in Ohio. To what extent accumulating boric acid may affect the integrity of various carbon steel supports in the reactor building is unknown.
David Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, pointed out the similarities between this ongoing leak and the lack of oversight at Davis Besse in a July, 2010 letter to William Borchardt, then the NRC’s Executive Director for Operations. At the time, Entergy was planning another refueling outage at Indian Point 2 though there had been no change in the leak and no assessment of its impact of steel structures.
Lochbaum noted in that letter, “it would be replicating the inadequate licensee management and ineffective regulatory oversight factoring into the Davis Besse near-miss to conduct another refueling outage at IP-2 the way outages have been conducted since 1993 …
“According to the NRC’s inspection report, refueling cavity leak rates of between 2 and 10 gallons per minute have been repeatedly entered in the corrective action program dating back to 1993. Despite these numerous corrective action program entries, the licensee has not yet evaluated the impact of reactor refueling cavity water leakage on the dissimilar metal welds between the stainless steel liner and the carbon steel studs, nor has the licensee evaluated the effects of the leakage with regard to liner attachment welds and carbon steel hardware.”
No Big Deal
In reply ( http://bit.ly/1TXUpIr ), Borchardt wrote in July 2010 that “Indian Point Unit 2 refueling cavity leakage occurs for about two weeks every two years during refueling activities, then the refueling cavity is drained and the leak stops…In addition, the refueling cavity liner serves no function when the plant is operating at power.”
In Borchardt’s view, the unplanned and uncontrolled leaks were an inappropriate annoyance during refueling, but not a threat to the integrity of the reactor or any safety systems.
“From our reviews,” he wrote “we determined that Entergy’s plans related to repairing the leak and monitoring plant components for age-related degradation are acceptable. As part of the license renewal process, the NRC’s independent advisory body, the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, considered this leakage condition in its review of the staff’s safety evaluation report and agreed that the condition is not one which would preclude granting a renewed license for Indian Point Unit 2.”
That assertion by Borchardt came nine years after Entergy’s 2001 evaluation report claiming the reactor cavity and canal were “leakproof,” and in the midst of an ongoing challenge by the New York Attorney General’s office to relicensing the plants partly on the grounds that its long-term ageing management plans were not reliable.
Entergy has been seeking 20 year extensions on the licenses of the twin reactors, which are now more than 40 years old, since 2007. The license for Indian Point 2 expired in 2013, and the license for Indian Point 3 expired last year. They are currently allowed to operate by the NRC until the licensing process is complete. The NRC is actively seeking to relicense all of the nation’s 100 reactors, and has so far granted extensions to about 75. The license review process for all other reactors has taken an average of two years.
NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
The extensions for both Indian Point plants, however, are being challenged by the environmental groups Riverkeeper and Clearwater, and the State of New York on several grounds, including contentions that the ageing management process for the plants’ critical components is flawed and unreliable. Last month, for example, Entergy relented after more than five years of legal wrangling and agreed to inspect the lining of the reactor – something that is not required by NRC regulations but has been pushed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. That inspection found that more than 27% of the bolts used to hold the lining of the reactor and channel coolant through the fuel rods had degraded in the hot, radioactive environment and were broken or missing ( http://bit.ly/1RMDiCM ). Entergy declined to discuss this issue.
The indoor leaks at Indian Point stem from a grave miscalculation made when the nation’s nuclear plants were designed in the 50s and 60s. It was assumed, explained Lochbaum, that pipes and concrete conduits wouldn’t break down over time and that concrete, though porous, was certainly unlikely to leak in the two weeks to a month needed for refueling and reactor maintenance.
“Many plants have had a problem like this,” Lochbaum said. “In the mid-80s at 9 Mile Point reactor in upstate, New York, they were leaking so much water that they ran out of tanks to store it in. So they decided to use the basement of the containment building and just poured the water in.
“But they forgot that there were 55-gallon drums filled with radioactive trash stored down there, and these fell over and dumped their contents all over. The NRC didn’t find out about it until a story came out a year later – the resident inspectors never looked down there.”
Inspectors did not check to see if Entergy was fixing the leak at Indian Point 2, either. The company annually entered the leaks into its corrective action file, and then did nothing.
The NRC didn’t get involved again with the radioactive rainfall until 2008. “At Indian Point,” Lochbaum stated, “you have a seismic issue. The only reason that there is a stainless steel liner in the reactor well is to guard against leakage in case of an earthquake.” There are two seismic fault lines under the 239-acre Indian Point campus.
“In 08,” he continued, “one of the NRC inspectors found workers wearing raincoats in the containment building. When he asked why they were wearing them indoors they said it was because the liner was leaking so badly that it was raining in the room below it and they didn’t want to be contaminated by the radioactive rain.”
But pinpointing small leaks is difficult. The reactor, transport canal and spent fuel pool have liquids added and removed for a variety of reasons, including normal evaporation, filtration, and various siphons to test the composition of the water for radioactive particulates. Finding particulates would indicate that a fuel rod or group of rods had cracked and pieces of irradiated fuel were swirling in the water.
“We are so focused on finding and fixing the big leaks and big accidents,” lamented Lochbaum, “that when there are slow drips over a long period of time we don’t react very well. The leak in 1993 was annoying, and the next time there was an outage it was still annoying – but they felt they didn’t need to fix it. They just lived with it.”
That kind of corporate conduct was termed “normalization of deviance” by Columbia University psychologist Diane Vaughan in her book “The Challenger Launch Decision.” She has defined it as a situation where “people within the organization become so much accustomed to a deviant behavior that they don’t consider it as deviant, despite the fact that they far exceed their own rules for the elementary safety.”
She applied that description to the Space Shuttle Challenger, which had a flaw in the booster motors which was ignored since it hadn’t affected a dozen flights. On the 13thflight, the Challenger blew up, killing the crew.
While the leaks at Indian Point 2 occur only during refueling outages, the canal and the ability to flood the reactor cavity so the reactor and its fuel can be thoroughly inspected is part of the safety system for the reactor in the wake of an earthquake. Workers would have to count on the integrity of the reactor cavity and the canal to safely remove the dangerous, irradiated fuel.
But, asked Lochbaum, if the reactor cavity liner is cracked and leaking before an earthquake, in violation of existing license requirements, “it is virtually impossible for this safety-related function to be satisfied after a seismic event. It seems more likely that the forces applied during the seismic event could significantly increase the pre-existing leak rate.”
Furthermore, he said, if it has been leaking unchecked for decades, there is no way to know for certain if it will continue that way, or if it will reach its stress limit and suddenly break while the reactor is open and the fuel exposed.
“Indian Point 2 has been flying blind during refueling outages conducted since 1993,” said Lochbaum.
From Marilyn Elie:
Tritium is what is being measured now because it travels the fastest. However, in leaks like this it is just one of many radionuclides in a basket of contaminates that are much more carcinogenic.
This is a leak of unknown magnitude traveling through fissures in the bedrock to the Hudson River, New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. The nexus of a nuclear accident is faulty equipment and human error. We will always have both.
The electricity the reactors provide has already been replaced with low carbon alternatives. See the NYS Dept. of Coastal Management report. (50-247 and 50-286).
Indian Point is old, dangerous and unnecessary. Shut it down!
And we would add: don’t put a 42-inch diameter high-pressure fracked-gas pipeline right next to it!!
Varying Views on Indian Point Tritium Leak
By LANNING TALIAFERRO – February 9, 2016 10:19 am ET
Many people and organizations have weighed in on the radioactive groundwater contamination at Indian Point over the weekend.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is sending a specialist; the State has started an investigation; Entergy and the NRC have said it poses no danger to the public or the workers at the plant in Buchanan.
“I am requesting a copy of the NRC’s radiation report due to recent leaks into the groundwater at Indian Point which is located in our village of Buchanan and Town of Cortlandt,” said Supervisor Linda Puglisi. “Indian Point (Entergy) representatives did contact me with this information and stated that there is no health or safety consequences to the public; however an independent evaluation is needed.”
Foes of the Algonquin Pipeline expansion project past Indian Point were vehement.
“In light of Indian Point’s continuing safety breaches, it is clear that not only must the plant be shut down immediately, the construction of the AIM high pressure, toxic, fracked gas pipeline must also stop now” they said in a prepared statement. Nancy Vann, who had a section of her property in Cortlandt taken by Spectra via eminent domain, said: “Spectra claims to be concerned about my safety—but what about the safety of 20 million people at risk from a pipeline accident at Indian Point?”
Riverkeeper agreed that the plant should be shut down.
“Since May 2015, Indian Point has suffered seven major malfunctions, from pump failures to transformer explosions, to radiation leaks, power failures, fires and oil spills,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay in a prepared statement. “In December, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered a full investigation, and he now warns that all these accidents demonstrate that Indian Point can no longer operate safely. Indian Point should be closed pending completion of the Governor’s investigations . . . . Who knows what’s going to happen next?”
Well . . . now we know:
Tritium Problem Worsening at Indian Point:
“The news just keeps getting worse,” said Paul Gallay, president of the watchdog group Riverkeeper. “Our concerns go beyond the spike in tritium levels. This is about a disturbing recurrence of serious malfunctions — seven over the last eight months.”
Thanks Congresswoman Lowey . . .
Environmental groups wants Indian Point nuclear power plant closed during probe after radioactive water leak
Environmental watchdogs are calling for the Indian Point nuclear power plant to shut down while investigators try to determine how an apparent overflow spilled highly radioactive water into an underground well.
“Indian Point had seven different malfunctions since May of 2015 . . . the next one could be a catastrophe,” Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, said Sunday.
“The stakes are just too high,” said Gallay, whose group is dedicated to protecting the Hudson River and the drinking water supply of 9 million city and Hudson Valley residents.
Entergy Corp., which runs the plant, said three monitoring wells out of several dozen at Indian Point showed elevated levels of tritium after the leak, which was discovered Friday.
Officials at the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Entergy first collected samples showing elevated levels of tritium on Jan. 26 and Jan. 28. Entergy managers received the lab results on Wednesday.
Gov. Cuomo ordered the state health and environmental conservation commissioners to investigate the incident.
“This is not the first such release of radioactive water at Indian Point, nor is this the first time that Indian Point has experienced significant failure in its operation and maintenance,” Cuomo said in a letter to acting Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.
“This failure continues to demonstrate that Indian Point cannot continue to operate in a manner that is protective of public health and the environment,” the governor’s letter said.
Officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the leak was caused by a drain that overflowed while workers were transferring water containing high levels of radioactive contamination.
“If you are the 45-year-old Indian Point nuclear power plant, you malfunction — it’s just what you do,” said Gallay. “This plant isn’t safe anymore.”
Cuomo and his administration have asked federal officials not to extend the license of the Indian Point plants, noting that there is no effective safety and evacuation plan for the more than 20 million people who live within 50 miles of the site.
The nuclear plant located roughly 35 miles north of the city has a history of groundwater contamination.
Interview with SAPE’s Susan Van Dolsen on KBOO Radio at minute 32:20
New Yorkers: Tell Governor Cuomo: No Gas Pipeline at Indian Point!
January 25, 2016
Governor Cuomo is actively working to close down the troubled Indian Point nuclear power facility (though he is far less critical about upstate reactors–we’ll be reporting to you on that soon). But the governor continues to remain silent about the dangerous high pressure AIM gas pipeline under construction only 105 feet from critical structures at Indian Point. This pipeline would pose an unacceptable risk to millions of people even if the reactors were closed. Safety experts urgently warn that a pipeline rupture at Indian Point would pose a serious threat to more than 20 million residents within a 50 mile radius in the NY tri-state region.
It is essential to act now to stop this dangerous pipeline. Please CALL Governor Cuomo’s office at 518-474-8390 and urge him to stop the pipeline now. Then, click here to send an e-mail to the governor urging the same thing. It’s important to take both actions.
When you call, tell the governor’s office to use its power to STOP construction of the dangerous Spectra AIM pipeline just as it is doing to push to close Indian Point. With 40 years of radioactive irradiated fuel remaining on site, the AIM pipeline would pose an unacceptable risk even if Indian Point were closed. His primary responsibility is to protect more than 20 million residents within a 50 mile radius in the New York tri-state region from these multiple hazards.
And urge the governor to commit New York to a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy!
* Construction of Spectra Energy’s dangerous, 42″ diameter, high pressure AIM gas pipeline is underway only 105 feet from critical structures at the Indian Point nuclear power facility. The pipeline is next to two large earthquake fault lines and would intersect high voltage electrical lines that issue stray currents and can corrode the pipeline.
* Spectra’s AIM pipeline would transport huge quantities of fracked methane gas through our region and to New England and Canada for export.
* Nuclear power and pipeline safety experts warn that a pipeline rupture next to Indian Point could cause a catastrophic scenario similar to the Fukushima nuclear disaster where plant operators were unable to cool reactors and highly radioactive spent fuel due to loss of power. It could result in more than 20 million people who live and work within the 50 mile radius, as well as the air, water and land to be exposed to radioactive fallout. Safety experts, public officials and the public have insisted on a comprehensive and independent risk assessment but it was never conducted.
* Natural gas is composed primarily of methane, an extremely flammable greenhouse gas that is 86X more potent than carbon dioxide in a 20 year period and also contains carcinogens such as benzene and other hazardous pollutants linked to adverse health impacts.
* Pipelines, compressor stations, storage facilities, power plants and other gas infrastructure are subject to leaks, explosions and fires, which are common occurrences. There were 119 gas pipeline accidents in 2014 alone. The Aliso Canyon gas storage facility in Porter Ranch, California, another type of fossil fuel infrastructure, has been uncontrollably leaking 50 tons/hour of methane gas and other carcinogenic compounds since October, causing a public health and climate crisis and requiring thousands to evacuate.
In other words, we need a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system, not more reliance on nuclear power and fossil fuels. While we applaud Gov. Cuomo for his opposition to Indian Point, there is much more New York needs to do to attain a sustainable energy future–starting with stopping this pipeline.
Call Governor Cuomo’s office at 518-474-8390 and urge him to stop the pipeline now. Then, click here to send an e-mail to the governor urging the same thing. It’s important to take both actions.
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
NIRS on the web: http://www.nirs.org
GreenWorld: (NIRS’ blog chronicling nuclear issues and the transition to a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system) http://www.safeenergy.org
NIRS on Facebook:
NIRS on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/nirsnet
NIRS on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/nirsnet
And from the Huffington Post:
A new video by Johnny W. Lee:
Expert Paul Blanch Presents Information to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
A full house gathered at the Hendrick Hudson Library in Montrose, NY to hear Paul Blanch, nuclear energy expert, and Rick Kuprewicz, pipeline safety expert, discuss issues regarding the installation of a 42-inch diameter high-pressure gas pipeline adjacent to the Indian Point nuclear power facility. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef hosted the event and many State and local officials attended.
Here’s a video of the presentation:
Please call and email Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to ask that they also speak out (loudly and clearly) about this unacceptable risk increase for the 20 million people living and working in the NYC tri-state area!
The Algonquin “AIM” Pipeline expansion brings a high pressure and high volume gas pipeline within 105 feet of critical Indian Point infrastructure. This lethal combination has never existed.
The technical flaws and the dangers of this pipeline route have been brought to the attention of NRC by highly distinguished experts. Why hasn’t NRC, in an open and transparent manner – or in any manner – fully analyzed the obvious faults with this project and required them to be corrected? The potential catastrophe posed by the pipeline siting is like none other faced by Indian Point – or indeed by any other nuclear facility in the nation.
On October 15, 2014, Paul Blanch, a widely respected nuclear engineer with over 40 years of experience, submitted a petition to the NRC (under section 2.206) protesting the inadequate review of the safety issues caused by routing this pipeline so close to Indian Point. He was joined on a conference call to the NRC on January 28, 2015 by Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline safety expert. Both of them urged the NRC to require an independent risk study.
He requested that the NRC hold a presentation locally because of the concern expressed by citizens and elected officials and the location of the proposed pipeline in a densely populated area near the largest city in the country. Citizens living and working within the 50 mile radius of Indian Point would be directly impacted by a pipeline rupture. His request was denied, however, but a second conference call was held at the Hendrick Hudson Library in Montrose on July 15th.
That presentation was “standing-room-only” and included many elected officials and their representatives. Elected officials from all levels of government have requested further review of this project. Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Nita Lowey wrote to the NRC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requesting an independent risk assessment.
We hope that the NRC representatives that were on the call are finally paying attention to the seriousness of this issue and we urge the NRC to rescind its approval of this pipeline project. Siting a new 42” diameter, high pressure pipeline next to the Indian Point nuclear facility poses an unacceptable risk not only to the lives, health and property of the over 20 million people living near the plant – but as Fukushima has demonstrated, to lives and health worldwide. Additionally in this case – where the nuclear plant is located next to the financial center of our nation – it is an unacceptable hazard to global financial stability.
What will a federal investigation after that explosion and evacuation mean to all of the people living here? There is too much at stake for the reactive nature of NRC to continue – action to address these issues is needed now!
Nuclear Expert Meets with Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman to Discuss Unacceptable Risk to NYC Metro Area
Mr. Blanch Urges NRC to Order Independent Risk Assessment of Siting of Massive Gas Pipeline Adjacent to Indian Point
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.”
Calculation used by NRC to confirm “no additional risk” from Spectra AIM pipeline to 20 million people in 50 mile radius of Indian Point Energy Center. (FOIA 2015-0189)
From Paul Blanch’s presentation:
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Withheld and Misrepresented Critical Information Used to Evaluate and Approve the Siting of the Spectra AIM Pipeline Alongside Indian Point
On Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at a special presentation to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Petition Review Board, nuclear expert Paul Blanch revealed that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission withheld and misrepresented critical information used to evaluate and approve the siting of the Spectra Algonquin Incremental Market Project’s 42-inch diameter gas pipeline adjacent to the Indian Point nuclear power plant.
Mr. Blanch began his presentation with this powerful statement:
“The NRC has threatened the safety of more than 20 million residents and the infrastructure of the greater NY metropolitan area and is risking trillions of dollars of damage and possibly the US economy by basing its safety assessment on a calculation that was recently obtained from the NRC under FOIA.This new information confirms that this NRC ‘calculation’ which was partially handwritten, unapproved, undated and unsigned, used fictitious, false and unsupported assumptions. This NRC calculation supported the FERC approval of the AIM project and the transportation of thousands of tons of TNT equivalent across and in the vicinity of the Indian Point nuclear plants. This ‘back of the envelope-type calculation,’ which misled Congressional representatives, FERC and the general public, must be invalidated and an independent, transparent, structured risk assessment, as outlined in an Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) methodology, must be undertaken.”
Nationally recognized pipeline expert Richard Kuprewicz, engaged by the Town of Cortlandt to analyze the project, provided formal comments to FERC in November and December. Mr. Kuprewicz participated in the NRC Petition Review Board call. He stated:
“In reviewing the various analyses of information provided to date, it has become obvious that those attempting to perform rupture dynamics of the 42-inch pipeline should not be doing such work, as their analyses consistently fail to capture the fundamental basics of gas pipeline rupture dynamics, especially on this system in the vicinity of the nuclear plant. From my perspective, it appears the permitting agencies are attempting to take advantage of a loophole that permits the NRC to dismiss risks if such analysis can be categorized below a certain threshold value, while ignoring the severe consequences that might prevent the nuke plant to safely shutdown.”
Mr. Blanch discovered the new information through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of NRC correspondence resulting from a letter to Assemblywoman Sandy Galef from the NRC. The links to the FOIA documents are available here:
Link to FOIA document #1
Link to FOIA document #2
Assemblywoman Galef, who hosted the press conference prior to the presentation said, “At the press conference I joined my colleagues and elected officials to hear more about the grave concerns with the siting of the Spectra AIM pipeline so close to the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. We will continue to advocate for greater scrutiny and a halt to this project unless and until it can be determined that this is safe. Right now, we have no such assurances.”
According to another FOIA of until-now-private NRC emails, a rupture of a gas pipeline of this pressure and diameter, would release about 4 kilotons of energy a minute. To put this in perspective, the nuclear blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were about 15 kilotons.
While this energy release wouldn’t cause the same type of damage, it could cause continuous explosions, which could destroy systems required to shut down the Indian Point reactors, which could cause major release of radioactive material that could impact a 50 mile radius (like Fukushima). Yet, the NRC continues its claim of “no additional risk.”
The risk analysis performed by Entergy and confirmed by the NRC states that if the pipeline ruptures, Spectra Energy’s operators in Houston would be able to shut down the gas flow in 3 minutes. Most gas line ruptures require field verification, which takes additional time. When a pipeline in San Bruno, CA ruptured, it took hours to get it under control.
If the NRC had used accurate information concerning the dynamics of a pipeline rupture, the impact radius of the explosion and heat flux would have been dramatically expanded. This would have demonstrated that a rupture could lead to a total electrical failure including back-up systems regardless of whether they shut the valves in 3 minutes or 1 hour.
Had the NRC provided accurate information to FERC and the involved agencies, the siting of the pipeline alongside Indian Point would most certainly not have been approved. While Fukushima was caused by an unforeseeable tragedy, putting the AIM pipeline next to Indian Point creates the potential for an avoidable tragedy.
 NRC FOIAs 2015-00176 and 0246 include an NRC internal email that discusses gas release rate of 376,000 kg per minute, which is nearly 1 million pounds per minute of explosive gas. Natural gas contains 10 times the energy per pound than TNT.
These Photos Show What’s Left Behind After A Nuclear Disaster
Inside the radioactive Fukushima Exclusion Zone
Over 160,000 people were evacuated from their homes in 2011 when a tsunami triggered a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors. What’s left behind is a 20km radius radioactive exclusion zone where very few residents dare to return.
Photographer Arkadiusz Podniesinski ventured into the zone in September and captured eerie scenes of life frozen in time: abandoned cars and bikes, and empty supermarkets with food still on the shelves.
“When I entered the exclusion zone, the first thing I noticed was the huge scale of decontamination work,” Podniesinski said, in a story accompanying the photos provided by photo agency Rex Shutterstock. Thousands of workers are trying to scrub the zone of radioactive material, so that more residents may feel safe enough to return in the future.
Podniesinki wasn’t able to get access to worst-affected areas in the exclusion zone, but the towns he did reach were chilling. “Futaba, Namie and Tomioka are ghost towns whose emptiness is terrifying and show a tragedy that affected hundreds of thousands of people,” he said.
For full story and additional photos, click here.
Just say “no” to irradiated grocery stores!
Scientists Want Review of Pipeline at Indian Point
The Union of Concerned Scientists asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to have an independent advisory committee review the criteria used to assess potential hazards from natural gas pipelines
The Union of Concerned Scientists asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday to consider having the commission’s independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards review the process and criteria used to assess potential hazards from natural gas pipelines close to nuclear reactors at Indian Point in Buchanan and Turkey Point in Florida.
The letter, filed on Monday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, echoes calls from local elected officials and residents for an independent risk analysis of the pipeline’s siting near Indian Point’s reactors.
“It is not apparent to the UCS that all the right questions have been asked and answered,” wrote David Lochbaum, the director of the group’s nuclear safety project. “It is entirely possible that all the right questions have already been asked and answered, but mis-communication and post-9/11 information withholding policies are preventing that picture from being seen.”
The purpose of the advisory committee is to allow experts from many technical perspectives to formulate advice. The committee is independent of NRC staff and it reports its advice and conclusions directly to the commission’s board, which is not bound by any committee determination.
On Wednesday, Lochbaum acknowledged that even a review by the advisory committee might not satisfy local pipeline critics.
“Even if the ACRS were to review this matter and make a conclusion, it’s not likely to satisfy all sides in the debate or affect what the NRC is going to do,” Lochbaum said.
The Algonquin project is expanding an existing natural gas pipeline running through Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties on its way to New England.
Marylee Hanley, the pipeline’s spokeswoman, said on Wednesday that Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Gas Transmission system has operated safely in the region without incident for more than 60 years. Indian Point’s spokesman Jerry Nappi said another analysis is unnecessary.
“An independent, expert analysis of potential impacts to safety at Indian Point from this pipeline determined there were no increased risks and experts at the US NRC conducted their own investigation and reached the same conclusion,” Nappi wrote in an email.
On Wednesday in Buchanan, residents and elected officials again called for an independent risk assessment for the pipeline’s siting. Elected officials are challenging the construction that’s already started in northern Westchester through many letters filed in recent weeks with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia said she and her colleagues are also calling on state and local environmental agencies to reconsider air and water permits while additional health and safety studies are done.
Borgia said the Union of Concerned Scientists’ proposal might satisfy her push for an independent risk analysis.
“I think this probably is a very good place to start,” she said.
From the Nuclear Information and Resource Service:
Natural Gas Pipeline Poses Nuclear Safety, Security Threat
New York Officials and National Groups Join Safety Experts Call for Halt to
Pipeline Construction Next to Indian Point Nuclear Plant
Washington, DC – National environmental groups want to put the brakes on construction of a massive natural gas pipeline, citing nuclear safety and terrorism risks. They say recently revealed documents show the proposed pipeline was approved earlier this year without an adequate technical review. The pipeline is to be built directly adjacent to the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Westchester County, just 25 miles north of New York City.
The organizations Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), Greenpeace, Riverkeeper, and Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) all issued letters to agencies reviewing the pipeline project – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – calling for an independent safety analysis before construction of the pipeline can begin in the area near the nuclear reactors. The groups’ concerns provide national heft to local opposition, and backs a growing chorus of local, county and state officials,1 residents and groups who believe construction of the pipeline must be halted. A pipeline explosion could cause a total loss of power to Indian Point, disable the reactors’ safety systems, and trigger a nuclear accident, as happened at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant in 2011.
“This is the largest natural gas pipeline to be located next to a nuclear power plant anywhere in the country, and it poses a clear and compelling nuclear safety risk,” said Tim Judson, Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “Previous gas pipeline accidents have had devastating effects on the local community. But locating the AIM pipeline next to Indian Point poses not only new and unprecedented danger to area residents, but to the entire NYC metro region, and it has major ramifications for the rest of the country,” Judson continued. “Whether you are for or against Indian Point, the risk is unacceptable. There is literally no excuse for allowing construction of the pipeline while such serious nuclear safety questions remain,” said Judson.
1 Elected officials calling for a halt to construction and an independent safety review include Senator
Charles Schumer; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; Congresswoman Nita Lowey; New York Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Liz Krueger and George Latimer; New York State Assemblymembers Sandra Galef,
David Buchwald, Shelley Mayer, Steve Otis and Amy Paulin; County Legislators Catherine Borgia, Ben Boykin, Alan Cole, Ken Jenkins, Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, Catherine Parker, Mary Jane Shimsky, Alfreda Williams and Lyndon Williams; Town of Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi, Mayor of
Buchanan Theresa Knickerbocker, Mayor of Peekskill Frank Catalina and many other local officials.
About 20 million people live and work within 50 miles of Indian Point, the highest density of population surrounding a nuclear plant anywhere in the world. A 2003 study of the consequences of a reactor meltdown at Indian Point found the impact could be staggering: up to 44,000 fatalities from radiation sickness; over 500,000 long-term cancer deaths; up to 11 million people permanently evacuated; and over $2 trillion in economic losses. The plant’s location has made it known as a potential military or terrorist target for over a decade. In addition to the possibility of an accidental pipeline explosion affecting the plant, the groups say the pipeline increases the likelihood of a successful attack on Indian Point.
“Deliberately placing the equivalent of thousands of tons of TNT directly adjacent to Indian Point poses a unique national security threat,” said Judson. “No one can even bring a barbecue propane tank on site without special protection and permission. This nuclear plant is a known terrorist target, and the AIM pipeline would greatly enhance potential attackers’ ability to cause a nuclear accident at Indian Point,” Judson continued. “The AIM pipeline project must not be permitted to move forward unless and until a comprehensive, independent safety review proves it is safe, and compliance with NRC regulations is assured.”
FERC issued a “no significant impact” ruling in March, relying on NRC to assess the nuclear safety risk of a pipeline explosion. However, NRC documents reviewed in July by nuclear safety expert Paul Blanch and world renowned pipeline expert Richard Kuperwicz show the agency did not conduct a proper scientific analysis. Its recommendation to FERC was based on hand-drawn sketches and inaccurate information from Spectra Energy, the pipeline developer, and Entergy, the plant’s owner and operator. The documents were not signed, not dated and not approved by anyone within the NRC, and did not comply with the commission’s regulations. Blanch and Kuprewicz revealed alarming new information about the faulty review process at an official NRC Petition Review Board presentation NRC in mid-July. These concerns have not been addressed by the NRC, yet, on September 1, FERC issued an order approving Spectra to begin construction on a portion of the pipeline near Indian Point.
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has previously rejected the placement of much smaller gas pipelines that were much farther away from reactors than the AIM pipeline would be from Indian Point,” said Judson. “Yet, from the recently released NRC documents, it appears that the commission failed to conduct even a standard safety review, and all but rubber-stamped the AIM pipeline. The risk inherent in locating the AIM pipeline next to Indian Point warrants an abundance of caution and greater regulatory scrutiny, not less,” Judson said.
As a nuclear safety regulator, NRC lacks the expertise to evaluate the hazards of natural gas explosions. Nevertheless, in previous cases, the agency has determined that much smaller gas lines were an unacceptable risk, even when located much farther from a nuclear plant than the AIM pipeline. Despite the obvious risks involving such a large pipeline, the agency did not engage a gas pipeline expert to conduct a transient risk analysis and did not look at historical data from other pipeline accidents such as San Bruno, CA; Sissonville, WV; or Edison, NJ.
NRC has a special committee that can undertake reviews of new or unusual safety issues, like those posed by the AIM pipeline. The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote to the NRC asking that the commission task its Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) to review the impact of natural gas pipelines on nuclear safety, based on the AIM pipeline case. ACRS is an independent body of experts that assesses nuclear safety issues and makes recommendations to the NRC Commission. In its letter, UCS points out that NRC’s lack of transparency and the inconsistency in the commission’s evaluation of the AIM pipeline require independent review by the advisory committee:
Many questions about the natural gas pipelines near Indian Point have been asked and answered. … It is not apparent to UCS that all the right questions have been asked and answered. … The ACRS could perform an … invaluable function now by reviewing the process and criteria used by the NRC to assess potential hazards from natural gas pipelines near nuclear power plants in general and the specific cases involving Indian Point and Turkey Point. The ACRS’s review would also constitute an extension to or subset of the agency’s post-Fukushima work to ensure that the risks from external hazards are being appropriately managed.
The AIM pipeline involves construction of a new 42-inch natural gas pipeline, about ten times the capacity of a pipeline in San Bruno, California that exploded in 2010. The San Bruno explosion had a blast radius of over 1,000 feet, and took over 90 minutes to stop the gas flow and more than 12 hours to extinguish the fire from the blast. Critical structures at Indian Point are less than 115 feet from the AIM pipeline route, including:
- Diesel fuel storage tanks for the plant’s backup power generators (also flammable).
- The electric switchyard which provides power to operate Indian Point.
Spectra would operate the pipeline remotely from Houston, Texas, over 1,000 miles away, but claims it could identify a pipeline rupture, close the appropriate valves, and get it under control in just three minutes. The NTSB investigations of gas line ruptures reports typical isolation ranging from 1 to 4 hours. There are no accident reports that support line isolation in less 1 hour.
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
6930 Carroll Ave., Suite 340 • Takoma Park, MD 20912 (301) 270-NIRS (6477) • Fax: (301) 270-4291 www.nirs.org • firstname.lastname@example.org • @nirsnet
Contact: Tim Judson 301-270-6477
Paul Blanch Speaks to Gary Null on WBAI
Interview Starts at Minute 30
New York Leaders Seek Review of Spectra Gas Pipeline Expansion
NYS Assembly members Sandy Galef and David Buchwald
New York state assemblymen David Buchwald and Sandy Galef, both Democrats, said in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that Spectra’s proposal to increase capacity on the gas line wasn’t “properly vetted” by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They requested an independent risk analysis.
See more at:
Nuclear Expert Paul Blanch on Indian Point: ”. . . probably the most dangerous nuclear power plant in the world”!!
Paul Blanch, Registered Nuclear Engineer, 3 Mile Island Expert Witness, discussing the poor risk assessment of Indian Point staff, with crude calculations provided to the NRC revealed in a FOIA request reluctantly granted. He points to the risks of the proposed AIM pipeline. He points out the NRC has become a captive of the nuclear power industry serving their interests instead of the public’s and not properly analyzing the risks involved in the pipeline or nuclear power plant renewal. July 18, 2015 video by Joe Friendly.
From our friends at Riverkeeper:
REQUEST PUBLIC HEARING ON INDIAN POINT 2 LICENSE AMENDMENTS IN WHITE PLAINS
TO: NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
Please sign this petition to intervene and object to the proposed license amendments for Indian Point 2’s expired license and request a public hearing in White Plains, NY.
Why is this important?
Entergy has requested various license amendments for Indian Point 2’s license, which expired in September 2013 to reduce public safety. Amending an expired license is procedurally defective.
Therefore we, Stakeholders, residing within 50 miles of Indian Point, are exercising our rights to intervene and object to the proposed license amendments for Indian Point 2 to defer inspections of the reactor vessel head for 10 years; ignore problems misaligned control rods until March 2016; and defer inspections of steam generators tubes.
These proposed amendments endanger public health safety, and the environment. We are requesting a public hearing on the proposed license amendments in White Plains, NY, where Energy maintains its corporate headquarters.
Go here to sign the petition:
From Green Street Radio:
Rockland County Times
County Legislature Opposes Renewal Of Indian Point’s License
Posted July 15th, 2015
The Rockland County Legislature approved a resolution opposing the application submitted by Entergy to renew its license to operate the Indian Point nuclear power plant. In its resolution, legislators outlined numerous issues the plant has faced and the many reasons the plant’s license should not be renewed.
The recent transformer fire at Indian Point 3, and the fact that such fires have been occurring more frequently in recent years, pose a major threat to residents living nearby, including Rockland County. The plant is also located on two fault lines, poses a daily risk of a meltdown or catastrophic fire, and has unsafe spent nuclear fuel pools.
“Standards for relicensing nuclear power plants appear to be less stringent than in licensing new plants—at least with regard to the health of transformers,” said Legislator Harriet Cornell who formerly chaired a Citizens’ Commission to Close Indian Point. “A meltdown or radiological fire would be a catastrophe causing deaths and millions of cases of chronic sickness over time. In this case the transformer fire led to an unacceptable dielectic fluid spill into the Hudson flowing west to Rockland’s shores. The NRC is supposed to protect the public, and Rockland’s public has been speaking out on behalf of public safety for more than three decades,” she said.
The legislature’s resolution will be submitted to the United States Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and other officials. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will rule on Indian Point’s license renewal later this year.
“The Indian Point nuclear power plant should be closed, especially given its proximity to high population areas,” said Legislator Nancy Low-Hogan. “Indian Point 2 is currently operating without a license. Since the license for Indian Point 3 expires this December, I feel very strongly that the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission must include an evaluation of Indian Point’s transformers, seismic conditions and evacuation plans, before granting licensure renewal. The stakes are too high not to do so.”