Indian Point Nuclear Plant Officials Field Tough Questions From Lawmakers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The nuclear fallout from the devastating earthquake in Japan has put a spotlight on the Indian Point nuclear power plant as licenses for its reactors come up for renewal.

Local watchdogs, frightened by the unfolding drama overseas, are rethinking their approval of a ten-mile evacuation plan for the plant.

Westchester County lawmakers asked Indian Point officials some tough questions at a committee meeting Monday, including whether workers could adequately respond to an emergency and the ability of the plant to withstand a disaster.

Michael Kaplowitz of the Westchester County Board of Legislators said the situation in Japan served as “an opportunity” and “an obligation to plan not panic.”

1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon hears from Indian Point officials at a Westchester committee meeting

The owner of the plant, Entergy Corporation, reiterated its position Monday that the two Indian Point reactors were safe from all types of possible calamity.

Entergy said it would be reviewing the ability to respond to potential catastrophe at the plant. Still, many lawmakers have voiced concern because the plant sits close to a fault line in addition to its proximity to New York City, which is about 24 miles away.

“I have no doubt that there will be changes that we make in response to this event, but at this point I’m not prepared to tell you what they might be,” Entergy Vice President John McCann said.

Communications director Jim Steets told WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi that “there are parallels that are not appropriate,” while admitting “there are lessons that can be learned.”

WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi speaks with Entergy’s Jim Steets

Last week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said federal regulators have ignored the plants’ quake safety in the relicensing process.

“The potential for harm is so catastrophic that it has to be taken into account,” Schneiderman said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo will meet with members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday.

The New York Public Interest Research Group and the Sierra Club have asked Cuomo to expand his agenda and discuss the state’s other aging nuclear plants with NRC officials.

John Armbruster, a seismologist at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, points out that the fault lines north and west of the Westchester County plant were modest in comparison to Japan or California. Armbruster said that while the fault lines near Indian Point were unlikely to produce an event that would damage the reactors, he believes a safety review was in order.

“I wouldn’t say alarming.  I would say, it should be of a concern,” Armbruster said.

The plant’s proximity to the city remains the big objection. Legislators, who approved evacuation plans, said Japan’s experience frightens them especially given U.S. officials warned Americans in that country to stay fifty miles away from malfunctioning reactors.

A fifty mile evacuation zone around Indian Point would encompass the homes of more than 18 million people– including all of New York City minus parts of Staten Island.

Licenses for the two reactors expire in 2013 and 2015. Industry insiders said that if they denied renewals, the plant would likely switch to natural gas.

SOUND-OFF: Despite Indian Point officials stating that the plant’s reactors were safe from calamity, are you still worried about a possible meltdown?  Share your thoughts in the comments section…

More from Lou Young
  • Sharon Moore

    I second the Safety comment. There is absolutely no way everyone nearby could get away should there be an accident. The highways would be bumper-to-bumper for days, maybe weeks. Remember the mass “escape” from the Houston hurricane a few years ago? And they weren’t stuck in a lethal radiation zone!

  • celebritytrainwreck

    Indian Point represents a nuclear risk to the residents of this area while supplying only a small fraction of its electricity needs. We would be foolhardy to give it another 20 years to operate in our backyard when we are getting so little benefit. Either update the plant by improving it or shutter it for good. Events in Japan should be a wake up call.

  • kedar

    dear who me,

    thanks. A full hour passed and what you wrote clicked.

  • jimmy1655

    As someone who has done work at Indian Point, I can unequivocally state that it would be impossible to switch the site to natural gas in any reasonable time frame. The current plant uses steam turbines where as natural gas requires combustion/gas turbines, so the entire turbine building complex would have to be removed. Furthermore, decomissioning would not happen over night and the site would not be available for use as another power plant immediately. CBS should really do its homework as to how practical this is before it reports it.

    Also the 50 mile warning in Japan was issued with extreme conservatism by the US government due to the uncertainty in the situation over there. Here the US government has full knowledge of all plant emergency response plans and accident mitigation techniques. Reactor operators are ultimately responsible to the NRC and not to the company for their actions. In an accident scenario, if they delayed a safety measure (as it has been alleged that TEPCO did with delaying seawater injection) in an attempt to preserve the plant for future operation at the risk of public safety they would be subject to severe penalties, not to mention permananent loss of their license, in addition to severe penalties levied against the company.

  • Saftey

    Yeah just like everyone else around the world this person “Kedar” from India is relieved that the power plant poses no danger to him/her and thats all anyone cares about in this world, themselves. But we as Americans living within a certain radius to the plant have to fear for our safety and pray we don’t suffer a catastrophe like Japan is currently. Realize Kedar that if we (US) are are affected by a nuclear fallout so are you. My god we are talking about NY city, think about it

  • kedar

    Hi, I am from India, the country in Asia. I cannot write how relieved I was the few seconds it took me to read the title of this piece, “Indian Point Nuclear Plant Officials Field Tough Questions From Lawmakers”. And then the great let down. This is about a place called India point in the USA.

    My stupid mind had put in one small hyphen in the sentence and made it a miracle and wishful thinking.

    “Indian Point – Nuclear Plant Officials Field Tough Questions From Lawmakers”.

    I have to tell me mind to be stop this kind of non sense.

    • who me

      “Indian, point!”

  • SHY

    Nuke Power Pland is never a safe at at any SPEED. Japanese reactor just proved that. No couontry on Earth can stop once it starts to melt and the fallout affects the whole WORLD. PUT A STOP TO IT NOW FOR ALL HUMANKINDS AND ANIMALS

    • kedar


      hi, Thanks for your comment. You are falling into the same trap I did, by jumping to conclusion. “Yeah just like everyone else around the world this person “Kedar” from India is relieved that the power plant poses no danger to him/her/(it) and thats all anyone cares about in this world, themselves.”.

      Let me explain…I thought initially that the news item was about India and Indian Law makers . I did not know there was a place called Indian point in the US. And also wishful thinking made me read “Indian point” as “Indian -( the Asian country view point)”. And that is great news for Indians like me. That Law makers in India were questioning the Indian officials of the nuclear facilities in India can be nothing but relief. You may be aware that Indian law makers recently made a deal with US lawmakers for Nuclear plants (a number of them) to built in India. And Japanese Corporates such as DaiIchi have a presence in India. And we have had our share of experiences with Bhopal Gas Tragedy and Tsunami.

      Now that is clarified. My prayer is that all Lawmakers and all corporates show concern for all nuclear facilities, all over the world.

      “Realize Kedar that if we (US) are are affected by a nuclear fallout so are you. My god we are talking about NY city, think about it” is very well put. Copycatting you I write, “Realize… that if we (Japan, India, China, Africa….US) are are affected by a nuclear fallout so are you. My god we are talking about NY city, Mumbai, Chennai, Bhopal, Peking, Tokyo, Dusseldorf….think about it”

      Reasoning in Humans has to prevail. The Sun, our first nuclear facility is 93,000,000 miles away. This is a good guide line for Lawmakers and makers of nuclear facilities on Earth for the safety of all of us. Best wishes.

  • Chris Marcisz

    This Plant Never Should Have Been Built In The First Place!
    It Needs To Be Shut Down NOW!!!! Before it’s too late!

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live