A spokesman for Entergy, has confirmed to WPCNR, what an independent nuclear engineer consultant told us Sunday evening about the Indian Point safety procedures. The County Executive’s office accused Gannett’s Sunday Meltdown report panicking the area as “not responsible journalism.”
Here’s the situation: a professional nuclear engineer informed WPCNR Sunday evening the nuclear fuel waste dumps at Indian Point, are enclosed in concrete and steel-reinforced buildings. Indian Point has to comply, he said, with strict, projectile and earthquake-resistant standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for these pools. These standards for fuel waste containment are in effect at all United States nuclear power plant facilities, according to our source. Now Entergy has confirmed his information.
Entergy: fuel pools enclosed in “substantial building.”
Tuesday, Jim Steets, Communications Director for Entergy, told WPCNR, the nuclear fuel waste pools on the Indian Point site were housed in a “substantial building,” confirming what our nuclear correspondent described. Reports published as late as Tuesday would lead readers to believe the fuel pools are open to the air like sewage treatment plants. This is not true according to Mr. Steets.
Indian Point Has Own Fire Department.
Mr. Steets reported in response to our query about firefighting capabilities, that Indian Point has its own fire department on the premises. He said it is prepared to handle major fires there with backup from two other departments in the area. He said the fire chief of his in-house department, he assumed has been reviewing his department capability to handle jet-fuel fires because of the World Trade Center disaster.
He said he would confirm how his fire fighters were equipped to handle such a conflagration. Sheets said Entergy, because of their current state of security alert, would not be able to take WPCNR on an inspection of the facilities at this time.
Legislator Assured Meltdown Not Possible.
County Legislator, George Oros for the Town of Cortlandt and Peekskill, interviewed by WPCNR Tuesday, said Entergy had given county legislators a briefing last Wednesday.
The County Legislator said, through the briefing, he learned that “The plant cannot ‘meltdown’ because of the built-in safeguards in place, and it won’t explode because the uranium and fuel are not of a weapons grade.”
Oros confirmed officially for WPCNR that Entergy’s Indian Point plant furnished 20% of New York State electricity, while generating 1% or $3 million in property taxes to Westchester County. The Legislator added the plant paid 20% of the Town of Cortlandt’s property taxes, and approximately 40% of the town’s school taxes. He noted it employed 3,000 persons.
Oros: Three Issues to Consider About Closing Plant.
Responding to WPCNR’s question about possible closing of Indian Point, Legislator Oros told WPCNR—
“Knowing what we know now,” Oros said,“the plant should have never been there to begin with. That considered, we have to address three issues if we consider closing it: one,The loss and subsequent replacement of energy. We have to start working on that now. Two, How do you cushion the bow to the tax base, and, three, The loss of 3,000 jobs. We have to be working closely with federal and state officials to address these issues.”
The legislator said he has not been advised how long it would take to close down Indian Point. However, Mr. Steets, the Entergy spokesman spoke to that issue.
Steets told WPCNR that he was not familiar with the procedure, but felt the procedure would “take years,” most likely require special legislation, and direction from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
County Executive Moved to Act Because of Gannett “Meltdown” Article, Calls it “Not Responsible Journalism.”
WPCNR contacting the County Office of Communications on another matter learned that the County Executive office felt compelled to issue a news release detailing county confidence in Entergy Indian Point safety procedures and reassuring the public. (See earlier “Nuclear Builder” story on this site). A spokesperson for the County Communications Office said the County felt it had to respond with a news release to the story published in a Sunday Gannett news article on the front page, raising the possibility of a meltdown at Indian Point.
A spokesman who works in the County Communications Office, and a former Gannett reporter, told us on the record that the County Executive felt the article was “very alarmist, one-sided, and needed to be responded to. It was not responsible journalism.”
Entergy described as “unreachable.”
WPCNR has also learned that Entergy, the owner and operator of Indian Point, was never contacted about the premise of the Meltdown Sunday article which alleged that Indian Point would produce a radiation cloud similar to the Chernobyl disaster that appeared in Gannett papers.
WPCNR has a report that the Gannett Editor responsible for approving the Sunday Meltdown Story said the preparer of the article told her Entergy was “unreachable.”
However, Mr. Steets said a person involved in preparation of the report was on the grounds of Indian Point speaking and talking with him personally scant days before the article appeared with every opportunity to ask questions on these issues, and the individual did not.
WPCNR called up Entergy cold after six phone calls within one hour (and four of those were to information),Tuesday morning. We even got to a spokesman, Mr. Steets.
The Sunday Meltdown article has resulted in “more than normal calls,” to the County Executive’s office about the safety of Indian Point according to the County Communications office. Oros, our County Legislator interviewee, said he had received heavy phone calls because of the Gannett Sunday Meltdown article.