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Groups to Unify in Opposition to Indian Point at NRC Annual Safety Performance Assessment Meeting

Hundreds to rally to make sure NRC, local elected officials hear concerns following the Fukushima nuclear disaster

A coalition of environmental and citizens’ groups will hold a press conference today in Cortlandt Manor, NY to announce an action plan to close Indian Point prior to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) 2010 annual safety performance assessment meeting for the plant. The groups will be joined by hundreds of New Yorkers and area residents eager to use the last public forum before the Indian Point relicensing hearing in the fall to make their concerns heard by the NRC.

The NRC stated yesterday it will provide 2010 assessment results and include a presentation on what the agency is doing in response to the Japanese reactor events. The NRC said that, overall, Indian Point “operated safely during 2010.” The agency previously stated on May 13 that all U.S. plants would be safe in a similar natural disaster — though it found serious gaps in Indian Point’s ability to safely respond to fire and earthquakes.

The organizations joining together in this initiative include Citizens Awareness Network, Greenpeace, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC), New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Riverkeeper and Shut Down Indian Point Now.

Gary Shaw, IPSEC Core Group member and early member of Croton Close Indian Point, stated, “Fukushima is a wake up call for everyone about what can happen at any nuclear plant anywhere and now at Indian Point, we know that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not been doing a good job of maintaining high regulatory standards. When Entergy could not meet design base fire safety standards the NRC lowered the standards. When the NRC required back up generators for the spent fuel pools Entergy immediately applied for an exemption and it was quickly granted. It is time that the United States stopped putting its head in the sand and look at other industrialized counties and what they are doing in regard to the ongoing Fukushima disaster and what they are doing to meet their energy needs without nuclear power. At the very least, we need a moratorium on relicensing Indian Point.”

“This meeting is the perfect platform to speak with a unified voice about the gaping safety failures that exist at Indian Point, and the NRC’s shocking lack of urgency in addressing them, despite what we have learned from the tragedy in Japan,” said Paul Gallay, Executive Director & Hudson Riverkeeper. “According to former FEMA director James Lee Witt, the 10 mile evacuation plan won’t protect the public at Indian Point, so the concept of trying to evacuate millions of people within a 50 mile radius is pure fantasy. To add insult to injury, the NRC refuses to address the risk posed by spent fuel pools packed with toxic nuclear waste, despite evidence from Fukushima that the nuclear waste pools there released huge amounts of radiation into the environment. We cannot afford to sit by and watch as the NRC conducts another ‘business as usual’ review and refuses to address the public’s concerns about these critical issues in a meaningful way.”

“Hudson River Sloop Clearwater has joined 45 organizations petitioning the NRC to immediately suspend all licensing and relicensing activities at 21 pending nuclear reactors, until the ‘lessons learned’ from Fukushima can be incorporated into these proceedings,” said Clearwater’s Environmental Director, Manna Jo Greene. “Given Indian Point’s abysmal track record, we believe the plant should be retired. Creating more highly radioactive waste to be stored on site is extremely dangerous, especially when cleaner, safer sources of energy are readily available.”

Canem Ozyildirim, Greenpeace organizer in New York, added, “Countries around the world are moving away from dangerous nuclear power and toward safe solutions like renewable energy and energy efficiency. Japan has already shut down especially risky nuclear reactors that put millions at risk, and Germany is phasing out nuclear power entirely. It’s time our public officials learn the lessons of Fukushima and shut down Indian Point.”

The NRC and the Indian Point plant owner, Entergy, repeatedly vow to “learn the lessons of Fukushima” but it’s largely business as usual, with the NRC proceeding toward relicensing the plant for another 20 years beyond its designed lifespan without considering highly relevant safety criteria, and without even enforcing regulations on such basics as fire protection and seismic standards. The groups are calling for a moratorium on relicensing, moving spent fuel out of crowded, unfortified fuel pools and into hardened, dry casks, closing the plant to stop making yet more of the dangerous waste and investing in greener alternatives.

To read the study and NRC assessment, visit: http://www.ips-dc.org/

NRC Assesment (PDF)