JuLY 20, 2012

Indian Point’s latest ‘unsafety’ measure

The clock is ticking for the expiration of Indian Point’s operating licenses. Unit 2’s operating license expires in September 2013, and Unit 3’s license expires in December 2015.

Entergy, the Louisiana-based owner of Indian Point, is seeking 20-year extensions on the licenses for both reactors.

Prompted by concerns after the nuclear accident at Fukushima, a recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruling gave hope to those who felt that the deck was stacked against them: for the first time, the relicensing hearings will have to consider concerns about waste storage, terrorism and evacuation planning. This will add another layer to the study, which could affect millions of residents, especially those in northern Westchester, including Bedford and Pound Ridge, just outside the periphery of the 15-mile emergency evacuation zone.

Yet only a few weeks after this decision, the NRC released a statement saying that fuel from the over-stocked spent fuel pool of reactor 3 at Indian Point may be moved to the fuel pool attached to reactor 2, which is not yet filled.

According to the NRC, without the new approach, Entergy would not be able to conduct a scheduled refueling outage early next year. With concerns about the flammability of these fuel rods and vulnerability to terrorism — they are stored in open pools — this sounds about the worst idea possible.

Without a federal repository as had once been anticipated at Yucca Moutain, Nevada, radioactive waste is likely now to remain at the Buchanan location for many years to come. This latest Entergy measure to shuffle radioactive fuel rods is only postponing the inevitable, and adding to the local waste storage crisis. Officials will have to determine not only if it is safe to store the waste onsite, but if the plant will be able to handle new, additional radioactive fuel rods being created every day that the plant is in operation.

Entergy plans to begin the transfers in August, according to the NRC.

The potential hazard of moving and storing these rods is just one more reason to decommission these plants, along with the many already compelling reasons of risk to both man and nature. In addition, the role of seismology and earthquakes in the study remains to be seen, especially as New York prepares to launch hydrofracking on a large scale throughout the state and into the Marcellus shale.

The complexities and many phases of the NRC’s evaluation make the decision to decommission Indian Point reliant on complex and arcane decisions that may be understood on some levels by scientists and engineers. However, every resident should have the right and confidence to know that energy decisions are made based on judicious safety and health considerations. Entergy’s decision to add to the potential arsenal of radioactive fuel rods — and the NRC’s approval — flies in the face of this reasoning. Instead, we are asked to rely on an outmoded technology in a world that has already witnessed the potential of nuclear tragedies, and the subsequent, devastating toll on the environment.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

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  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

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Bedford Hills

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  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

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Cross River

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  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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