WASHINGTON - June 23 - In formal comments filed today with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Riverkeeper and the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition criticize the agencies over the recent radiological emergency exercise held for the region surrounding the Indian Point nuclear power plant. According to the groups, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must not and cannot certify the Indian Point emergency plan based on the June 8th emergency exercise.
The official letter states:
The question that the public, various public interest groups and hundreds of elected officials would like an answer to is whether the publics health and safety can be protected during a radiological emergency at Indian Point. The June 8th in-sequence exercise fails to provide an answer to this fundamental question. Failing to incorporate a simulated release of radiation, the exercise was not able to assess whether official orders issued to the public to evacuate or shelter would have succeeded in protecting the public from receiving an unacceptable dose of radiation.
Other key excerpts from the official comments sent today:
Today, a nuclear power plant could not be built at Indian Point given a variety of reasons including the sites location in the midst of such a densely populated metropolitan region. Your respective agencies would have a difficult time disputing this fact. But what is so disturbing is how your respective agencies can justify the plants continued operation.
Potential For A Catastrophic Scenario
The 767 cargo plane crashed into an on-site electrical transformer. However, determined terrorists targeting Indian Point may succeed in breaching a reactor containment dome and damaging the reactor core resulting in a subsequent release of radiation. A successful terrorist strike could also cause a drain-down of a spent fuel pool which could result in a pool fire and release of radiation. Both scenarios can result in large releases of radioactivity. Other possible scenarios the NRC should be considering include: (a) a cargo plane, fully loaded with heavy earth-moving machinery (i.e. bulldozers) in the cargo bay, being flown into a containment dome; and (b) a smaller plane loaded with powerful explosives flown into the spent fuel pool building.
Scenario Separated Terrorist-Related Aspects From Plant Safety System-Related Facets
The scenario used for the June 8th exercise deliberately separates the initial terrorist plot to attack the Indian Point nuclear power plant from the safety system-related events that unfolded later on in the scenario. This is an obvious and purposeful ploy that is indicative of a broader public relations effort on the part of the DHS, FEMA, NRC and Entergy designed to dupe the public into believing Indian Point is not vulnerable to a terrorist attack that could have direct negative impacts on plant safety systems and ultimately have catastrophic consequences.
NRC Comments Regarding Exercise Scenario Are Misleading To The Public and Press
We are troubled by statements made to the press by Brian Holian, deputy director of reactor projects for NRC Region I. Holians statements were clearly designed to imply that the scenario involved the 767 crashing into a containment dome but failing to penetrate. A June 10, 2004 MSNBC article which can be viewed at http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5181243/ features the following quote from Brian Holian that illustrates our concern:
The scenario of the crash included no damage to the reactors concrete containment building. Brian Holian, of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said recent studies showed most plane crashes into containment buildings would not result in significant releases of radiation.
Clearly this statement reflects the broader public relations effort described above.
The full comments can be viewed at: http://riverkeeper.org/campaign.php/indian_point/we_are_doing/941