Where: Greenburgh Town Hall, 179 Hillside Avenue, Greenburgh, NY Monday, April 11
Who: John Armbruster, Lamont Doherty Institute, will speak on earthquakes and Indian Point. Paul Blanch, nuclear expert and consultant to the State of New York, will talk about the similarities in fuel pool design between Fukushima and Indian Point. Andy Kantor, Physicians for Social Responsibility, will speak on the effects of radiation. Steering committee members of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition who live in communities surrounding the plant will also be available for comments.
With the disaster in Japan and the reactors in Fukushima leaking radiation at dangerous levels into the air and water, and no end in sight, the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) will host a Community Forum on the lessons we can learn from Fukushima and how they apply to Indian Point.
Indian Point sits on a seismic fault line. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the design basis for the plant is geared to a 5.2 earthquake while seismologist estimate that a 7.0 earthquake is a possibility. The NRC has identified Indian Point as the nuclear reactor with the highest risk of catastrophic failure due to an earthquake out of all the 104 nuclear reactors in the United States.
The science that created the standards for the design basis of the plant is from the 1950’s. John Armbruster of the Lamont Doherty Institute is one of the authors of a seismological study published in 2008 that called for reexamining how earthquake proof the plant really is based on advances in the field and new understandings of how the earth moves.
The current evacuation plan for two miles in the direction of the plume within the 10 miles radius around Indian Point. Americans in Japan within 50 miles of the damaged reactors were told by the United State government to evacuate. Population density within the 50 mile area around the area of Fukushima is 500,000. Over 21 million people live within a 50 mile radius around Indian Point. Local officials in our area have acknowledged that the plan is unworkable. James Lee Witt, former head of FEMA and an evacuation expert, was hired by The State of New York to investigate this matter. He concluded the plan was unworkable as planned and practiced. Fukushima has shown us that sheltering in place is untenable for disasters that unfold over a period of time. Japanese that stayed in their homes are now living in an area with no services, food deliveries, medical care, and no first responders. They must self evacuate through radiological contamination.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists and nuclear expert Paul Blanch, the spent fuel pools at Indian Point are similar to those at the reactor in Japan. They have no containment and are not hardened structures. They are ordinary commercial buildings like K Mart or Sears. While the reactors have four hour back up batteries, the spent fuel pools do not have an independent backup system for electricity or cooling. While some spent fuel has been moved to dry cask storage, 1,000 tons of high level radioactive waste remains in the pools for units 2 and 3. While the industry treats spent fuel as if it were benign, it is not.
Michele Lee, a member of the board of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said“First we had Sept 11, then Katrina, BP, and now Fukushima. How many failures of ‘fail safe’ systems do we need? What level calamity does it take before we understand there are some risks not worth taking?”
Marilyn Elie, co founder of Westchester Citizens Awareness Network said “Indian Point supplies only 560MW of electricity to our grid. The rest is sold on the open market from Maine to Ohio. That is about 5% of the electricity used in Westchester and New York City on a typical day. While there is a low probability of risk, there is a very high impact should the unknown happen. Why should our community have to face that risk when the market has already replaced the power?”
Buddhist nun Jun-san from the Grafton peace Pagoda will speak about her 206 mile pilgrimage from Indian Point to the Vermont Yankee reactor which she begin on April 10 at the gates of Indian Point. A visitor from the Fukushima region of Japan is also expected. Presentations will be followed by questions from the audience for all participating panel of experts.
The forum is free and open to the public.