REP. ENGEL CALLS FOR CLOSING INDIAN POINT
Congressman Eliot Engel sent the following letter to Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of the Department of Energy, after hearing of his remarks Sunday concerning the Indian Point nuclear facilities. Rep. Engel has for years advocated closing Indian Point for reasons he makes clear in his letter. Dr. Chu, in a televised interview, questioned the evacuation plan for Indian Point in the event of an emergency.
March 20, 2011
Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, D.C. 20585
Dear Dr. Chu:
I was heartened to hear that you want to take a look at the Indian Point nuclear facilities, and in particular its location in regard to New York City and the evacuation plans for the area.
As you may be aware, I have called for the closing of Indian Point for many years citing its location among millions of people, as well as the lack of adequate evacuation capabilities for the area around Indian Point.
Let me lead by saying Indian Point would never be approved in this location were it to be built today, this close to America’s major population and financial centers.
There are other issues that led me to conclude it should be closed. Specifically, the plant is located near two seismic faults that together raise the possibility of an earthquake far larger than any anticipated when it was built. Columbia University, in a recent study said Indian Point being is “clearly one of the least favorable sites in our area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”
As you know the plants are almost 40 years old, the age when they were to age out. But Entergy, the plant’s owner, wants to renew their licenses for another 20 years. I think this is akin to thumbing our noses at realistic probabilities. The Japanese never expected an earthquake of nine on the Richter scale, nor a tsunami of such consequence. Indian Point says it can withstand a 6-plus magnitude earthquake, but Columbia suggests that the possibility of a seven of larger magnitude earthquake is very real.
Indian Point’s safety record is abysmal. Let me quote from the New York Times (May 9, 2009) “But the plant … has encountered a string of accidents and mishaps since its beginnings, and has appeared on the federal list of the nation's worst nuclear power plants.
“Five months after the Indian Point 2 plant opened in 1973, it was shut down, when engineers discovered buckling in the steel liner of the concrete dome in which the nuclear reactor is housed. Later, in the most serious incident at the plant, a small radioactive leak from a steam tube forced the plant to close in February 2000 for 11 months.”
Lately there have been a string of leaks of water containing tritium and strontium 90 plus unplanned closures for a variety of reasons.
Further, Indian Point is located in a reservoir system that sends water to nine million people.
I’ll close with a ‘what if scenario.’ One of the planes hijacked on 9/11 flew over Indian Point on its way to the World Trade Center. A document later found in Afghanistan contained information about America’s nuclear power plants. It is reasonable to assume that terrorists would be severely tempted to attack such a target, especially one closest to the largest number of people.
The incident in Japan highlights the issues surrounding any nuclear power plant that has “aged out,” is beyond safe repair, and presents health and safety risks in a densely populated area.
I am not opposed to nuclear power, but for the reasons cited I am against nuclear power at Indian Point where an accident or attack could mean an incalculable loss of life and property.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given out renewal licenses for nuclear power plants without, I believe, adequate study of real issues confronting these plants. The NRC’s obligation is to the health and safety of people, and not to the nuclear industry.
I encourage you to take a close look at Indian Point, and the rest of America’s nuclear power. I believe you will find Indian Point must close considering the condition of the plant and where it is located.
MEMBER OF CONGRESS