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Riverkeeper statement for Indian Point Annual Assessment Meeting

The third transformer explosion and fire in just eight years at Indian Point is proof positive that we need to decommission this unreliable, unsafe and environmentally damaging facility. This most recent incident is particularly disturbing not just because starkly similarly failures have already happened twice, but also because in 2009, the NRC specifically recognized the problematic trend in transformer failures at nuclear plants, and found that such failures could be avoided if licensees like Entergy implemented an effective maintenance program and a more proactive approach to addressing transformer issues.(1) Clearly, Entergy failed to follow that directive, and continues to lack an adequate maintenance program. Further, just yesterday, we learned that water from an unknown source was found in the electrical supply room at Indian Point after the transformer failure occurred—that is, water in the location of electrical equipment that provides power to plant safety systems; the implications of Entergy’s gross mismanagement are truly alarming.

This most recent incident also once again highlights how substandard Entergy’s fire protection program is. Over the years, the NRC has granted Indian Point dozens of exemptions from critical fire safety requirements, including one that reduced the requirement that insulation from fire last 1 hour to just 24 minutes. As a result, Indian Point operates without various technical measures, and largely on the hope that keeping a close watch and taking manual actions at the moment critical events take place will save the day. But we have seen over and over again how Entergy has failed to make good on its empty promises to supposedly keep a close watch. Such an approach to managing Indian Point is illogical and simply not enough given what is at stake to the surrounding public and environment.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has rightly called Indian Point “inherently problematic.” Indian Point’s ability to handle the increasing stream of aging and degraded components is completely inadequate, its evacuation plan a fantasy, and its spent fuel pools are overfull and leaking. And of course, due to Entergy’s persistent refusal to comply with environmental requirements, Indian Point continues to devastate the critical ecosystems and aquatic life of the Hudson River.

It’s clear we need to set a prompt closure schedule for Indian Point, and continue deploying available new generation sources, transmission improvements, energy efficiency, and other measures identified by the New York State Public Service Commission in November 2013 as feasible alternatives to the operation of the plant. With the State’s success in implementing and overseeing the Indian Point Reliability Contingency Plan, it is no longer in question that the New York State electricity grid can be operated reliably in the complete absence of Indian Point. With no power outages or electricity disruptions following the unexpected shutdown of Unit 3 from the recent transformer failure, along with the anticipated weeks-long shutdown before it will be able to run again, we once again have clear evidence that the electricity generated by Indian Point is not necessary. Importantly, extensive modeling and analysis from energy economists shows that a clean energy future without Indian Point is entirely possible. This analysis also shows that electricity price impacts involved with the shutdown of Indian Point would be temporary and modest at most. Such costs certainly pale in comparison to the risk to the public and the environment posed by the continued operation of New York City’s aging nuclear neighbor.

We don’t need the power from Indian Point and the risk to 20 million people is just too great. It’s time to close Indian Point, before Indian Point closes us.

(1) See NRC Information Notice 2009-10, Transformer Failures—Recent Operating Experience (July 7, 2009), ADAMS Accession No. ML090540218, at pg. 1, 2.

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