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NRC Reports Highlight Safety Failures at Indian Point


Contact: Riverkeeper, Tina Posterli, 516-526-9371, [email protected]

Riverkeeper calls for immediate action to address the risk of earthquakes, spent fuel pool fires and fire protection requirements

Ossining, New York – May 19, 2011 – On May 13 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published its report of Indian Point’s readiness to deal with accident and fire scenarios post – Fukushima, and found significant gaps that Riverkeeper believes must be addressed immediately. The NRC, however, is failing to require Indian Point to take any action to address these critical lapses, continuing to insist the reactors are safe despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Among the most troubling findings were NRC’s admission that it does not require Indian Point to be able to respond to a loss of electrical power caused by an earthquake, and that Entergy has failed to inspect equipment designed to prevent hydrogen explosions in the reactors after an accident, and the structural integrity of the plant’s cooling water intake structures on the Hudson River. Equally disturbing is NRC’s acknowledgment that some fire safety equipment also has not been required to meet seismic standards, and could fail during an earthquake

“The NRC’s shocking lack of urgency in addressing the risk from earthquakes, unsafe spent fuel storage, and fire emergencies is beyond mere negligence – it’s reckless in the extreme, and it demands an immediate response from President Obama and Congress,” said Paul Gallay, Executive Director and Hudson Riverkeeper.

Key findings of the reports include:

  • IP2 and 3 – Station blackout and seismic – NRC does not require Indian Point to plan for a loss of offsite electrical power to the plant caused by an earthquake (IP3 report pg. 12)
  • IP2 and 3 – Fire protection systems in ‘non safety related’ buildings, including city make up water, are not seismically designed, and would likely not withstand even a ‘Safe Shutdown Earthquake” (SSE). (IP2 report pg. 13, IP3 report pg. 12)
  • IP 2– Entergy hasn’t tested its hydrogen recombiners since 2006, and can’t show that they’re operable. This is equipment designed to reduce hydrogen buildup during an accident, to avoid the kind of explosions that occurred at Fukushima.(IP2 report, page 2)
  • IP2 – Entergy failed to inspect the Hudson River water intake structure, including the service water pump bays, as required by NRC regulations (service water pumps are critical equipment needed to cool the reactors and spent fuel pools after an accident or loss of electrical power.) It hasn’t been inspected in 5 years, and no inspection is scheduled.
  • IP3 – CO2 fire extinguisher tanks do not have to meet any seismic standards –earthquake damage could mean losing these systems for critical areas like the turbine building, emergency diesel generator rooms, and electrical switching rooms.

Phillip Musegaas, Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Director, added, “This NRC assessment is essentially a review of paper plans, and a cursory inspection of a ‘reasonable sample’ of safety systems needed to prevent an accident following a beyond design basis accident. It does not come close to being an aggressive, in-depth inspection of all safety systems that is needed at Indian Point to ensure that a catastrophic accident from the reactors or spent fuel pools can be prevented.”


The reports were issued as a result of inspections of Indian Point 2 and 3 by the NRC on April 27, 2011, to assess the capabilities of Indian Point Reactors 2 and 3 to respond to extraordinary consequences similar to those that have recently occurred at the Japanese Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Station. In its cover letter to the report, the NRC stated that the results from this inspection will be used to evaluate the nuclear industry’s readiness to safely respond to similar events. However, the NRC is not requiring Indian Point to fix all of the new problems uncovered during the inspection, instead saying they will “further evaluate these findings to determine if they are regulatory violations” and merely document any resulting violations in a separate report at a later, unspecified date.

Riverkeeper has been raising concerns about Indian Point’s impact on the Hudson River ecosystem for more than forty years, and has fought to close the reactors since just after the September 11 terrorist attacks, when we learned of the plant’s vulnerability to terrorism and poor safety record. Since the tragedy began unfolding at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Riverkeeper has been working on many fronts to hold the NRC accountable for the gross negligence regarding safety issues that has continued at Indian Point. We are calling on President Obama to establish an independent commission to review nuclear safety and evacuation planning issues at Indian Point and all other operating reactors in the U.S. Riverkeeper is also calling on the NRC to immediately suspend all license renewal proceedings pending the independent commission’s recommendation and allow the commission’s findings to be fed into the relicensing hearing process for Indian Point and other plants under review.

The reports are available for download right here:
Report on IP3 (PDF)

Report on IP2

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