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Indian Point Review a Top Priority for Federal Regulators

In the wake of the Japanese earthquake and resulting nuclear catastrophe, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said that federal nuclear regulators have promised to make Indian Point their top priority in a nationwide review of nuclear plants.

The Indian Point nuclear power plant will be the first in the country to undergo a review of seismic risk by federal regulators, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

The announcement came after members of the Cuomo administration, including Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, met with officials from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at the agency's Maryland headquarters.

"Indian Point will be the NRC's top priority and will be reviewed first among the 27 plants that are being reviewed by the NRC," Duffy said, adding that he did not know when the review would take place.

According to a report released last fall Indian Point, which lies near the Ramapo fault line, is than any other nuclear plant in the eastern or central United States. That fact has come into focus in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that destroyed the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Cuomo, a longtime vocal opponent of Indian Point, has repeatedly called for the NRC to deny the plant's reactors new licenses when the current ones expire in 2013 and 2015.

"My position has been that the plant is risky and should not operate, and that being said I was surprised to hear of the significant seismic risk," Cuomo told reporters on Tuesday.

The freshman governor went on to say that he took issue not only with Indian Point, but with the NRC's entire process of reviewing nuclear sites.

"They don't take a whole new look. They see it more as an update on the physical plant capacity," he said. "Things have happened, the world has changed."

The NRC has also agreed to share seismic data with state officials and include members of Cuomo's cabinet in on-site inspections of the Westchester plant.

Officials from Entergy, the company that owns the plant, discussed a range of issues with county legislators at a committee meeting on Monday.

John McCann, the company's vice president for nuclear safety, insisted that Indian Point could not face a disaster similar to that in Japan. But he did concede that federal regulators will likely force an overhaul of procedures designed to mitigate fallout from an earthquake.

“I have no doubt there will be changes we make in response to this event,” McCann said, adding "we need to be careful about not moving too quickly."

At that meeting, lawmakers repeatedly raised concerns about the effectiveness of current evacuation plans, which only cover a 10-mile radius. About 18 million people live within 50 miles of Indian Point.

Legislator Peter Harckham (D-Katonah) said that he was evacuated during the 1979 meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania, and that the plan "didn't work."

"When I hear about evacuation, whether it's 10 miles or 50 miles, I personally don't have a lot of confidence," he said.

Cuomo on Tuesday echoed Harckham's concerns.

"Evacuation, I don't believe, is even a feasible concept when you're talking about this plant, in this area, with this [population] density," he said.

Francis T McVetty March 23, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Dan, I think that you are doing something about our energy problems. I like the hot water system,and I know that works. I didn't know that the system didn't need an inverter or batteries. So you are NOT independent of the power grid. If power goes out, you are in the dark? What about snow on the solar panels? how often do you have to clean them? I do know that the hot water panels will melt the snow. How much of a difference is there in electric output on a cloudy day or a sunny day? By the way I'm NOT against solar energy. I feel that it costs too much. What would it cost without a federal subsidy? many questions, sorry.
Dan Thaler March 23, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Francis, Yes, it does have inverters and yes, if the power goes out I'm in the dark. This is to protect utility workers. I use a SnoBrum (google it) to keep the panels clear in the winter. My house is low so it works well. I clean them every snowfall ( a lot this winter). Without the rebates and tax credits it would be triple the net cost. My PV system has micro inverters, 1 per 2 panels , so it is not as affected by shading or cloud cover as a 1 inverter system. I could have opted for a battery system but , as you say, this adds much cost and maintenance to the system.
Tom Quatroni March 23, 2011 at 11:20 PM
@Dan I guess what your saying is that without rebates & tax credits they are not worth it. That means I'm paying for you to own it. Gee that doesn't seem fair to me. That is like the rebates on electric cars if they were so good they would not need it. I've never seen a rebate on an I phone or I pad. Makes you think doesn't it? The only true "green" product on the market is "Freewatt" it generates electricity while producing heat or hot water. Rain or shine 24/7. It also is a generator so you can be off the grid.
Dan Thaler March 23, 2011 at 11:36 PM
The prices of solar systems has come way down in the last few years. Even without the credits, etc I think it is worth it. Why shouldn't us working stiffs take advantage of tax credits? I look at it as getting back a little of what I have paid out. btw, the Freewatt does look like an interesting product. I had read about them a few years ago.
Francis T McVetty March 24, 2011 at 02:22 PM
Look like the cost of the price for Freewatt micro-CHP with warm-air heater is approximatley $13,000 installed, depending upon the complexity of the installation. It uses natural gas. I don't see how much it costs to feed this unit in natural gas. That limits it some what to where you live. What is its efficiency rating? Tom points out the cost to the taxpayer for these "green" systems. The Toyota is a prime example. What would that vehicle cost if it wasn't for the money the taxpayers kick in ? Have you ever looked at the TOTAL green foot print of this vehicle? The manufacturing of the batteries alone make it a negative device in regard to green . Between mining, manufacturing, and shipping. they are not green. What are the disposal costs? Like the old Fram oil filter commercial, pay me now or pay me later.

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