WPCNR Daily Mirror. By John F. Bailey. June 13, 2002. 12:00 E.D.T.: Seven members of the White Plains Council of Neighborhood Associations toured the Entergy Indian Point atomic power plant Tuesday, and saw for themselves the security and emergency steps to be taken in the event of a possible terrorist strike at the Buchanan plant.
CNA REPS IN INDIAN POINT EMERGENCY OPS FACILITY: Jim Steets of Entergy demonstrating how the Wind Solar Map with its 10 mile mapping of the area surrounding Indian Point, predicts the direction of any radiation releases. He is shown explaining the operation of the WSM to CNA delegates, L to R, John Vorperian, Riena Kaplow, Ingrid and Carl Barrera Tuesday at Indian Point. Also observing were Joel Rudikoff and Peter Katz.
All Photos by WPCNR.
CNA CO-President Carl Barrera, Joel Rudikoff, Ingrid Barrera, Peter Katz, John Vorperian, and this reporter were escorted into the depths of the Indian Point plant by Entergy spokesman, Jim Steets, Tuesday. We saw the facilities often characterized as vulnerable to terrorist attack by prominent politicians and a threat to the public by environmentalists.
I was told by Mr. Barrera to enter the complex by a side entrance where we would meet our guide. However, I drove up to the main entrance just to check it out, to be met by concrete barriers and an obvious military presence. I could feel the security personnel’s eyes on my car as I very carefully and slowly turned my Camry around — very carefully.
As I drove down Bleakley Avenue South in the direction of where I thought the side entrance was, I was met by another security vehicle of the National Guard. I had stopped my car to get my bearings on the directions, and the Guardsman riding atop a camouflaged HumVee, locked onto me with his green scope giving me a no-nonsense, once-over. Being in his cross-hairs, gave me a very unnerving feeling.
When Indian Point Checks You In, They Check You In.
In order to go on this tour, I had to be precleared in advance by the Indian Point Communications Office with a series of paper procedures. My name was on the list, which the entrance Guard checked on my visit. An identification procedure was conducted. I was told where to park and exactly where to proceed on the site.
Evacuation Has 10-Hour Lead Time.
Before I could join the CNA group, I was furnished with new credentials, and a second set of identification procedures prepared on the spot so plant security could keep track of me on the site. Only after 45 minutes was I escorted into the Indian Point Emergency Operations Facility situation room. Jim Steets, our guide was looming over the Wind Solar Map, where the 10 miles surrounding Indian Point is rendered on a screen.
WIND SECTOR MAP identifies towns and areas threatened by any airborne radiation leaks. There is an estimated minimum of ten hours leadtime before communities can expect to have any radiation leak reach them, according to Steets.
Steets said, the Wind Solar Map is used to predict what areas might be affected should any “plume of radiation” escape Indian Point’s reactor. The Map uses wind direction and windspeed as a guide, to advise Westchester County Executive Andy Spano of communities the projected path of any radiation drift.
“The facility is staffed with people with a variety of tasks, whose job is to get all the information they can about the status of the plant, the condition of the plant, and the potential for releases,” Steets told me. “We can measure, with great certainty and accuracy exactly what a release would entail. Then we can make a recommendation, which we’ve done in drills, to the county, one or four, or all four counties (Dutchess, Orange, Westchester, Putnam), that there’s a potential for release, potentially in X amount of time, and you ought to evacuate certain areas.”
A Calculated Reaction.
“Then the County Executive can look at it and say, well, actually, we’ve already evacuated those areas, or, thanks for the advice, we’ll take it under advisement. It’s also, really his decision to make. He makes those decisions based on what’s going on at the plant, and what advice he can get from his own experts in a variety of fields, his own health department, his own advisors.”
The impression this reporter received is that, contrary to evacuation plan critics’ portraying miles of jammed highways and panic in the streets, there was no need for a “War of the Worlds” panic evacuation, given the leadtime to analyze any radiation release.
Slow Rate of Drift Means No Rush. No Panic.
Steets said that the wind speed and direction determines how fast any radiation emission, that might be brought about by a leak from the domes from any possible enemy attack. He said the slow speed of radiation cloud drift allows the county a lot of time to mobilize any necessary evacuation in an orderly manner, (“We have capability to evacuate areas”). Any shift in wind direction disperses and deconcentrates any radiation cloud, Steets said, and does not spread it in concentrated form to other areas.
Within 2 miles, Cloud Dissipates.
Steets said that any radiation escape from either dome in the form of radioactive steam, loses its concentration quickly: “The concentration of radiation diminishes so much after two miles, that areas 5 and 7 miles away you don’t have to evacuate.”
Steets said that this conclusion was “based on science.”
Steets added that it was Entergy’s opinion that the Westchester County Evacuation Plan was workable, citing the ten hours of lead time before any release of radiation would spread significantly.
Talking to Anybody.
Leading us out of the Emergency Operations Facility into a conference room, Steets said, “We are meeting with as many people as possible. If this (close Indian Point movement) is rooted in fear, all we can do is tell you where we’re coming from. We’re not afraid of this plant.”
(WPCNR Will Continue “Inside Indian Point”)