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One Year Later, Still Business as Usual as NRC Ignores Issues Most Vital to Continued Operation of Indian Point in Annual Assessment

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

Hundreds to rally to urge NRC to take a hard look at the implications of relicensing in the context of a post-Fukushima world

Ossining, NY – May 17, 2012 – A coalition of environmental and citizens’ groups will hold a press conference today to urge the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to include lessons learned from the tragedy at Fukushima Daiichi into the relicensing hearings for the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The groups will be joined by hundreds of New Yorkers and area residents eager to use what will likely be the last public forum before the Indian Point relicensing hearings scheduled for this fall to make their concerns heard by the NRC.

The press conference will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel, 455 South Broadway in Tarrytown, NY followed by an open house and public meeting from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

The NRC stated yesterday at a press briefing that the large number of concerns filed in response to Entergy’s renewal application for Indian Point could lead to the agency extending the relicensing process, and as a result, Indian Point could continue to operate past 2013, when the first of the two reactors’ licenses expire. The NRC further stated that it “can’t hazard a guess” as to when it might rule on whether Entergy can continue to operate the plant for another 20 years and that Indian Point 2 and 3 received a green rating for 2011, which means the inspection findings were considered of “very low safety significance” and “both operated within the normal regulatory bounds.”

The organizations joining together in this initiative include Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC), Occupy Wall Street Environmental Solidarity Working Group, Riverkeeper and Shut Down Indian Point Now!.

“The NRC’s rubber stamp assessment of Indian Point’s safety is the latest evidence that this agency has failed to learn the lessons of the Fukushima nuclear disaster,” said Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper. “By ignoring the findings of its own staff in its July 2011 Near-Term Task Force report on Fukushima, and refusing to allow new information about earthquake risk and evacuation planning failures into Indian Point’s relicensing hearing, the NRC is showing its true colors as the defender of the nuclear industry. 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.”

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s annual assessment meeting used to feature Entergy, Indian Point’s operator, accounting for the nuclear plant’s problems and being held accountable by the NRC and the public. It is unacceptable that the NRC has turned this meeting into a public relations event again placing Entergy’s profits ahead of the NRC’s mandate to protect public safety,” said Mark Jacobs, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition.

“The problem with the NRC’s Annual Safety Assessment for 2011 is that it fails to address the larger safety issues related to Indian Point: an inadequate and ultimately impossible to implement emergency evacuation plan, increasing population density, unfortified fuel pools that contain more spent, but highly radioactive fuel rods than in Fukushima, and seismic issues relating to the nearby intersection of the Ramapo and Stamford-Peekskill earthquake faults – all of which have been ruled out of scope in the relicensing process,” said Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. “Having recently toured Indian Point, the water in the fuel pool for IP Unit 2 was too murky to see the densely packed rods. Fiberoptic cameras can only assess about half of the surface of the pools because they are still so overcrowded, so the NRC must rely on data from monitoring wells, but it cannot actually do a complete direct inspection. When it comes to evaluating public health and safety, the green ratings related to the cornerstone objectives are an illusion.”

According to Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, a member of the Assembly Standing Committee on Health and author of legislation mandating a 50-mile radius nuclear disaster emergency and evacuation plan, “At this point, it is my strongest belief that New York is not adequately prepared to deal with a nuclear disaster at Indian Point Energy Center. At risk are the lives of tens of millions of Americans, including millions of children and elderly who have not been given the benefit of adequate emergency and evacuation planning. This is a nightmare scenario and New Yorkers would be foolish to put all their trust in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the issue of disaster preparedness.”

Peter Rugh of Occupy Wall Street’s Environmental Solidarity Work Group added, “The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued untold numbers of safety exemptions to Entergy at Indian Point. Entergy took in $11 billion 2011. They can afford to take every possible measure to ensure our safety, including, ultimately, shutting this monstrosity of a power plant down.”

“United States is a country that hasn’t learned from Fukushima yet,” said Yuko Tonohira, Todos Somos Jopon. “We urge the NRC to incorporate the lessons learned from this catastrophe and spare the 18 million metro New York-area residents living within a 50 mile radius of Indian Point from the risks associated with keeping this plant in operation for another 20 years, and not to prioritize commercial interests over the well-being of the people.”

Read the NRC Annual Assessment Letter.

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