Harckham and Galef Condemn NRC for Weakening Indian Point Emergency Rules

New York State Senator Pete Harckham and State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef condemned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in a recent letter for downgrading safety standards at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y.

“As the legislators representing the Indian Point community, we are deeply disappointed that the NRC plans to downgrade safety standards at nuclear power plants currently undergoing decommissioning,” Harckham said. “We strongly disagree with the NRC’s view that nuclear plants in the decommissioning process pose a lesser danger than operating plants.”

Galef said: “While Indian Point is no longer in operation, the nuclear materials stored there continue to pose a significant danger for all the same reasons as when the plant was operational. In fact, the existing hazards are exacerbated by the heavy demolition work that will occur on the site.”

Both legislators renewed their calls for continued vigilance by on-site NRC safety inspectors, who the agency plans to withdraw soon. Harckham and Galef said the NRC is ignoring the fact that nuclear spent fuel will continue to be handled during the decade-long decommissioning process and stored on-site for the near future.

Indian Point Energy Center (Photo by Howard Copeland)

Harckham and Galef said the top concern of residents living near Indian Point is that the heavy decommissioning work will be conducted while multiple high-pressure gas pipelines continue to operate on the site. The legislators called on the NRC and other federal agencies to assess the catastrophic consequences of a gas line rupture and explosion while also devising the necessary precautions to prevent any such horrific incidents.

Below is the full text of the letter sent by the two state legislators to the NRC.

***

Dear Chairman Hanson:

Re: New regulations regarding nuclear power plants during decommissioning

As the State Legislators representing the communities where the Indian Point Energy Center

(IPEC) is located, we are deeply disappointed that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) plans to weaken safety regulations at nuclear power plants currently undergoing decommissioning.

We strongly disagree with the NRC’s view that nuclear plants in decommissioning pose a lessened danger than operating plants. In the case of Indian Point, nuclear spent fuel will be managed during the decade-long decommissioning process and stored on-site for the foreseeable future. That calls for continued vigilance.

While IPEC is no longer in operation, the nuclear materials stored there continue to pose a significant danger for all the same reasons as when the plant was operational, with the additional complications and hazards of the heavy demolition work occurring on site.

Among the top concerns of our community is that the heavy decommissioning work will be conducted while multiple high pressure gas pipelines continue to operate on the site. The NRC must assess the catastrophic consequences of a gas line rupture and explosion and devise the necessary precautions to prevent any such horrific incidents.

This calls for strong emergency preparedness regulations, not watered-downed ones. Preparedness starts with on-site inspectors with written goals, periodic reports, public transparency, and accountability. There must be continued monitoring on-site by qualified professionals using state-of-the-art technology during the entire decommissioning processes.

We want to prevent an emergency from becoming a catastrophe.

Sandy Galef                                          Pete Harckham
95th Assembly District                      40th  Senate District

 

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