Yesterday about 500 people filled the conference room of Colonial Terrace in Cortland Manor, New York for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Annual Safety Assessment of Indian Point. The NRC started the meeting by refusing the public’s request for a one minute moment of silence for all those who suffered from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The agency then went on to downplay Indian Point’s risks, to the backdrop of protests from a crowd angry that our public officials aren’t doing more to protect the public from the dangers of this nuclear plant.
Indian Point is one of the most dangerous nuclear plants in America. The old plant sits on two seismic faults, and amongst all US reactors, has the highest likelihood of suffering core damage from an earthquake. To make things worse, aging gas pipelines run just 200 yards from one of the reactor containment buildings, presenting a serious fire and explosive risk. All of this without an evacuation plan for the 17 million people that live within 50 miles of Indian Point.
At the meeting, NRC officials were evasive and refused to give specific answers to the public’s questions about the lack of an evacuation plan, the impacts from an earthquake, on-going leaks from Indian Point, and more. Representatives of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Eliot Engel underlined the need to involve the public in the evaluation process. Many speakers who took the stage last night called the regulatory agency’s credibility into question and underlined its close ties to the nuclear industry. Indeed, the NRC has never denied a nuclear company’s request for a license extension; it’s nothing more than a radioactive rubberstamp for the dangerous old reactors that threaten millions of Americans.
Greenpeace activists and local allies were at the meeting to tell the NRC to shut down Indian Point. Unfortunately, last night made it clear once again that the NRC seems more intent on protecting Entergy’s than the safety and security of New Yorkers.