- March 5 - Despite repeated failures on the part of Consolidated
Edison to adequately test and implement its off-site emergency plan for the Indian Point 2
nuclear reactor, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has denied a petition filed by
Public Citizen and a coalition of environmental groups asking that the agency force the
utility to conduct a drill or shut down the nuclear reactor.
"Emergency planning is especially important at Indian Point," said Wenonah
Hauter, director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass
Energy and Environment Program. "The government never should have allowed a
nuclear reactor to be built 25 miles from New York City. The least the NRC can do is
ensure that local residents can get out in the event of a meltdown, and the agency
isnt even doing that."
In a letter sent late Friday to Public Citizen denying the group's petition, the
NRC claimed that the emergency planning regulations governing two owners on a single site,
as is the case with Indian Point 2, are ambiguous. However, Public Citizen maintains that
they are quite clear. The agency said it would issue a proposed rule soon to
address the matter.
NRC regulations require off-site drills to be done every two years. When conducting an
emergency off-site drill, plant workers must practice the steps they would take to
evacuate nearby towns in the event of a nuclear accident. The last time such a drill was
performed at Indian Point 2 was June 1998.
NRC has claimed that because personnel at New York Power Authority's Indian Point 3
which is located at the same site conducted an off-site drill within the
past two years, Consolidated Edisons staff at Indian Point 2 need not comply with
the biennial requirement in the regulation.
Thats absurd, because Indian Point 2 is a different reactor, run by a different
company, said James Riccio, senior analyst for Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and
"Its unbelievable that the NRC would say that Con Ed has complied with the
regulations, when, in fact, a different company that happens to be located at the same
site conducted the drill," said Riccio. "We have serious concerns about Con
Eds ability to react swiftly in the event of a nuclear accident, and the NRCs
denial of our petition has done nothing to change that."
Currently, Consolidated is negotiating to sell its reactors to Entergy Operations Inc.
Postponing the issue of the emergency planning until after the sale would effectively
render it moot, Riccio said.
"The only thing thats ambiguous is the NRC's dedication to protecting the
public," Riccio said. "The agency is merely running interference for
Consolidated Edison until it can get out of the nuclear business. By the time NRC
addresses the supposed ambiguities in the emergency planning regulations, Consolidated
Edison will likely have sold the Indian Point 2 reactor and avoided conducting an off-site
drill for more than four years."
Public Citizen in January petitioned the NRC to halt the operation of Indian Point 2
until Consolidated Edison conducted a full participation emergency planning exercise as
required. Emergency planning is especially important because Indian Point 2 is located
about 25 miles from New York City and has the highest population within 10, 30 and 50
miles of any nuclear power plant in the U.S. At 50 miles, its population is more than
double any other nuclear reactor in the country.