Indian Point Not Only Seismically at Risk, Also a Fire Trap

There's more troublesome news coming out of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Last week, we spoke to Columbia University disaster expert Klaus Jacob about vulnerability at the Westchester County plant, which supplies around 20 percent of New York City's power.

Today, we learned that the aging plant -- located just 38 miles north of the city -- is violating fire safety violations. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to force the agency to take action against the plant's owners for its failure to comply with the agency's own fire safety rules.

The AG says that right now, the plant:

--has failed to install certain required fire detectors or fire suppression systems
--has neglected to strengthen electrical cables to withstand fire damage for one to three hours
--hasn't installed automatic emergency response systems.

As Jacob explained last week, the plant is also the most vulnerable to an earthquake of any plant in the country.

The reactor's operating license expires in 2015, and the plant owners are vying for a new license that will extend 20 years after that. Scheiderman says the NRC has not considered seismic risk in its re-licensing process. (The NRC, by the way, has never denied a re-licensing petition to any facility in the country.) With officials from the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo in Washington last week, the NRC promised it would make seismic risk factors a top priority, but -- as far as we can tell -- did not explicitly say whether seismic risk would be a condition of the re-licensing.

Jacob says the seismic risk to the plant is already well-known. And it would cost upward of a billion dollars to retrofit the plant to make it less vulnerable. It would be more practical to just find a new source of power, he says.

Like Governor Cuomo, Jacob thinks the best thing would be to shut the plant down. Unlike Cuomo, Jacob would wait until the license expires, and cross our fingers that an earthquake doesn't happen between now and 2015.

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Cernobyl and Three Mile Island were not the results of an earthquake. Human error can easily cause a disaster.


I remember working on a Steam Generator resleeving crew in the early 1980s,a temp agency recruited workers all over the USA (I was flown in from San Diego many other guys came from Chicago) I was met at Newark A/P and taken to a motel near Indian Point that had been taken over by the company doing the repair work.I was directed to a room to get my room assignment I knocked on the door was told to come in ,when I opened the door I saw several guys snorting coke off the table they did not even look up.It was pretty good money for the time we were basically on 12 hour stand by for which we got 4 hrs OT.My exposure to the radioactivity was I believe less then 20 min and in which I got my max dose of radioactivity for one year.All they really wanted was warm bodies and they cared less about anything else.They did give us I believe 2 or 3 days of training and warnings about the dangers of working in a plant of this type but the company knew we were all down on our luck and needed the money

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