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Riverkeeper Calls for Independent Investigation of Indian Point Following Second Transformer Explosion in 3 Years

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Contact:Tina Posterli, Riverkeeper, 516-526-9371

Entergy reactors in New York and Vermont plagued with maintenance problems

Ossining, NY – November 8, 2010— Riverkeeper called today for an independent investigation of Entergy Corporation’s maintenance of its non-utility nuclear plants today, following last night’s declaration of an emergency at Indian Point 2 after a transformer explosion and emergency shutdown of the aging reactor. This latest incident is strikingly similar to the emergency shutdown of Indian Point 3 in April 2007 when its main transformer also exploded, putting the IP3 reactor out of commission for nearly a month. Questions were raised at the time about the condition of the IP3 transformer, which was over thirty years old. At nearly the same time IP2’s transformer exploded last night, Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear plant was forced to shutdown after discovering a radioactive water leak from corroded piping. All of these incidents raise serious questions about Entergy’s lack of commitment to safely maintaining its aging nuclear reactors, and cast further doubt on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) ability to strictly regulate the nuclear industry.

“This latest Indian Point emergency, and the discovery of yet another corroded, leaking pipe at Vermont Yankee, clearly shows that Entergy is focused on maximizing profit and minimizing safety investments at its aging Northeast nuclear plants,” said Paul Gallay, Executive Director of Riverkeeper. “An independent investigation of Entergy’s entire maintenance program is critical to determining the true condition of Indian Point and Entergy’s other plants, and forcing the company to clean up its act and place public health and safety above the needs of its shareholders.”

An independent investigation and review of Entergy’s maintenance of Indian Point and its other plants must be conducted by the General Accountability Office, the Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or a similar entity, so that it is entirely separate from the NRC’s regular inspection process. The following key points must be addressed;

  • Was last night’s transformer explosion similar to the April 2007 IP3 transformer explosion? If so, why wasn’t the IP2 transformer inspected or repaired to ensure that a similar accident would not occur?
  • The IP3 transformer that exploded 3 years ago was over thirty years old, and age was considered a factor in the explosion. How old is the IP2 transformer that failed? Is age or maintenance of aging components a factor in the accident? If so, should Entergy inspections have detected the deteriorating condition of the transformer?
  • Do NRC regulations require regular periodic inspections of the transformers? If not, why not? Is the condition of the transformers reviewed in the license renewal process for Indian Point? If not, why not?
  • Does Entergy commit sufficient financial and manpower resources to properly maintaining its non-utility merchant nuclear plants?
  • For nearly 10 years, Riverkeeper has been leading the campaign to halt Indian Point’s environmental assault on the Hudson River and force the plant’s early retirement due to the risks its continued operation poses to public health and safety. Since 1966, Riverkeeper has been fighting to force the owners of Indian Point to update its antiquated once-through cooling technology in favor of a closed-loop, modern technology that reuses water to protect the ecosystem and dramatically reduce the plant’s impact on Hudson River fisheries.

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