Tag Archives: Indian Point

Entergy would like you to believe this is unrelated to an aging plant

Nuclear reactor malfunctions, shuts down at Indian Point.

Breakdown is second problem in two weeks
Indian Point nuclear power plant
Times Herald-Record
Posted: May 28, 2009 – 10:39 AM

BUCHANAN – A nuclear reactor at the Indian Point power plant in Buchanan automatically shut down this morning due to a malfunction. This is the site’s third unplanned break-down in three months.

According to officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the problem occurred around 5:30 a.m., when “a high vibration condition was detected on a main feedwater pump” in reactor Unit 3. The malfunction triggered a “high-level alarm,” then a turbine trip, then the reactor trip, said the NRC, in a statement.

This is the second time in two months that Unit 3 has malfunctioned. Plant operators manually tripped the reactor on May 15 after a main feedwater regulating valve in a steam generator failed, resulting in rising coolant levels that could not be controlled.

Read the rest of the story: http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090528/NEWS/90528021

Nuclear power is NOT a safe answer to America’s energy future. It is expensive, dangerous, and an immoral burden to leave on our children.

the nuclear plants are old and failing


Indian Point is apparently aging, too

From The Journal News,http://lohud.com/article/20090515/UPDATE/90515003/-1/SPORTS

Valve problem shuts Indian Point

May 15, 2009

A reactor at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan has been shut down because of a valve problem.

Entergy Nuclear says Indian Point 3 was safely turned off at 1:53 a.m. Friday with no release of radiation.

The issue centered on a valve that controls the flow of water into a steam generator.

“Indian Point Unit 3’s operators manually tripped the reactor after the main feedwater regulating valve for the 33 (one 3 designating Unit 3, the other 3 the third steam generator for 33) steam generator experienced a failure (failed open), resulting in rising coolant levels in the steam generator that could not be corrected,” wrote the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a statement.

Read the full story >

the nuclear plants are old and failing

Bribery will get you nowhere… if people are AWAKE

From the PUTNAM COUNTY NEWS and RECORDER in Cold Spring, NY on 5/20/09:

Entergy Contributes to Fire Hall

Entergy, which operates the Indian Point nuclear generating plant in Buchanan, NY, recently contributed $15,000 to the new North Highlands Fire Department fire hall on Fishkill Rd. The hall would be used for decontamination purposes in the event of an incident at Indian Point.


NRC taken to task for granting exemptions to nuclear power plant safety requirements without public notice

Indian Point barriers to be subject of Federal appeals court ruling

Wednesday, May 20th 2009, 5:35 AM


Indian Point nuclear power plant

Indian Point nuclear power plant

A matter of 24 minutes could affect the lives of 20 million people within 30 miles of the Indian Point Nuclear Plant.

That’s the core of an argument awaiting a ruling from a federal appeals court in a case against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for allowing lower-quality fire barriers at the Westchester County plant 24 miles outside of the city.

The case also marks the first time the NRC is challenged to grant so-called exemptions that affect public safety without alerting the public.

The court case comes on the heels of an NRC public meeting Thursday night on safety at Indian Point.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, 455 South Broadway in Tarrytown, with an informational open house starting at 5:30 p.m. The NRC will address ground-water contamination, radioactive spent fuel storage and emergency planning.

Last week, State Assistant Attorney General John Sipos and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) told a three-judge panel in Manhattan Federal appeals court that the NRC’s decision drastically compromises the safety of workers at Indian Point and some 20 million others within 30 miles of the nuclear plant.

Last year, the NRC granted a request from Entergy, the plant owners, to use fire safety insulation material that resists fire for only 24 minutes – not enough time to catch and contain a fire with the current hourly inspection schedule, the plaintiffs said.

Sipos and Brodsky also argued in court there would be a danger of fires in electrical junction boxes that control safe, emergency shutdowns, if needed.

NRC attorney Robert Rader countered that NRC staff determined there was a “reasonable assurance” fire-protection measures approved by the exemptions would control any credible blaze at the plant.

Rader said the NRC analyzed the requested exemptions in depth and found them adequately protective and were assured that the “underlying purpose of the fire protection rule had been met.”

The NRC said that using lower-quality fire barriers has been allowed at many other plants in the country, and the NRC has granted similar exemptions to certain fire safety standards over the last eight years.

The dispute also involves the NRC’s rules for granting exemptions without requiring public notification or participation.

Rader said the agency’s rules for granting exemptions are spelled out in the Atomic Energy Act as part of the “comprehensive regulatory framework” and the “ongoing review of nuclear power plants located in the United States.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/05/20/2009-05-20_high_court_to_rule_on_barriers_okd_for_indian_point.html#ixzz0G3Sa3JF5&B

NRC challenged in U.S. Court of Appeals for easing safety requirements at Indian Point

Finally! An autocratic agency with Byzantine regulations is being called to account by the State of New York and Representative Richard Brodsky.   Granting exemptions to existing licensing at the behest of Entergy without public hearings is a violation on the NRC’s charter to protect public health and safety.  The serious matter of fire safety cannot be brushed aside.   This issue strikes to the very heart of the way safety and the public’s right to know has been systematically ignored. Under any reasonable, transparent review process this would have been handled as part of an amendment licensing process and not through a obscure back door out of the public eye.”  – Marilyn Elie, Founding member of Westchester Citizens Awareness NetworkPublic Advocacy Groups and Attorney General to Argue Against Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Unsafe Fire Safety Exemption Granted to Indian Point before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

On Monday, May 11 oral arguments will take place at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Ceremonial Court Room, 9th floor, 500Pearl St., New York City at 10:00 a.m. in a case that has been brought against the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by several public interest groups including the Westchester Citiz en’s Awareness Network (WestCAN), the Rockland County Conservation Association, Inc. (RCCA), the Public Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE), the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter, and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), and  New York State Attorney’s General Office has filed an amicus brief.  The groups challenge the NRC’s decision to exempt Indian Point Nuclear Facility Unit 3 from fire safety regulations that reduced fire safety standards from one hour to twenty-four minutes.

Under the NRC regulations, a nuclear power facility built prior to 1979 must enclose the cable and equipment necessary for a safe shutdown by using a fire barrier with a one-hour fire rating. According to the exemption Indian Point’s fire rating has been reduced to twenty-four minutes, a 76% reduction fire safety standard.

Since 1993, the NRC has known that the fire barrier utilized at Indian Point does not meet the one-hour duration.  According to the 1993 test, the fire barrier only lasts 23.2 minutes, however the NRC took no action until 2005.  The 2005 test confirmed that the fire barrier failed to perform for one hour and exceeded temperature limits within thirteen to forty-two minutes.

In 2006, the NRC issued a letter to certain nuclear plants requesting that they propose a resolution for the problems associated with the fire barrier.  In response, the owners of Indian Point nuclear facilities, Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., requested an exemption from the one hour fire safety standard.    On August 16, 2008, the request was revised requesting a reduction from one hour to twenty-four minutes for certain areas.  Thirty-four days later the NRC granted the exemption.

The NRC must not prompt any exemptions to regulations which increase the likelihood of catastrophic risks.  The public has been made vulnerable by the NRC’s secretive reduction in fire safety without notice or opportunity for hearings.”  Annie Wilson for Sierra Club – Atlantic Chapter

The result of the NRC’s decision to grant the exemption from one hour to twenty-four minutes means that a single fire must be detected, fire brigade assembled and fully extinguished in less than twenty-four minutes.  Like most operating nuclear reactors, Indian Point Unit 3 contains miles of electrical cables that control and power safety systems, including valves, pumps, motors, and gauges designed to ensure the prompt shutdown of the nuclear reactor.  A fire at Indian Point that damaged those cables could disable the critical systems served by the cables preventing safe shut down and ultimately may lead to a major radiation release that could have a disastrous impact on the health and property of the people of New York.

Petitioners will argue that the NRC improperly granted the “exemption”, lacked authority to grant exemptions, failed to allow required public participation, failed to give proper notice, failed to consider relevant evidence in making its decision, and violated National Environmental Policy Act.  Petitioners will further argue that the NRC created a potentially illegal loophole by permitting mischaracterization of the request as an “exemption” rather than an amendment, thereby violating the Atomic Energy Act.

Entergy is sailing up the river in a boat loaded with non-compliance. They are supposed to protecting the public, not accommodating private industry.”  Maureen Ritter of PHASE (Public Health and Sustainable Energy)

The NRC’s decision drastically compromises the safety of the Indian Point nuclear facilities.  Upwards of twenty million people work, live, or travel within fifty miles of Indian Point.  This case marks the first time the NRC’s right to grant exemptions without notice and hearings has been challenged.

The case will be argued on Monday, May 11 before Honorable John M. Walker, Jr., Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, and Honorable John Clifford Wallace of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky will be arguing for the Petitioners.  Assistant Attorney General John Sipos, Esq. will be arguing on behalf of the New York State Attorney General’s Office.  A representative will be arguing on behalf of the NRC, as well as a representative from  Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.

Fires are recognized as one of the most significant safety hazards at nuclear power plants, they are not uncommon. The NRC’s reckless willingness to dramatically reduce the safety margins to 24 minutes is an egress abdication of is responsibility.    The regulations that were exempted are critical safety regulations related to the electrical cables and where enacted in response to the Brown’s Ferry fire.   Brown’s Ferry fire started in the insulation of electrical cable trays, it raged for nearly 7 hours, burnt and reactors were out of control for almost two days.” Michel Lee, Board member of Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS) and Chair on Council on Conservation & Intelligent Energy Policy (CCIP)

DEC says Indian Point affecting aquatic life

From North County News (http://www.northcountynews.com/news/ncn_news2.asp)

By Abby Luby

Photo courtesy of the NRC

Photo courtesy of the NRC

An example of a cooling tower – this one is about 70-feet tall; a mechanical draft cooling tower at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

State wants new cooling system

In a long-awaited landmark decision, New York State has formally ruled that the water cooling system at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plants adversely affects aquatic life in the Hudson River and that the system has to be replaced.

For the last 30 years local environmental groups have been appealing to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to enforce the Clean Water Act by ordering Indian Point to replace its outdated water cooling system. Studies have shown the system has been responsible for killing about 1.2 billion fish a year. That number includes fish eggs, as well as small and large fish.

The water cooling system takes in and flushes out over 2.5 billion gallons of river water daily. Water going inside the plant absorbs the heat of the turbines that produce electricity and then the heated water returns to the river affecting aquatic life.

The DEC ruling signals the first time the state has gone on record saying Indian Point’s current cooling system kills fish. The news pleased environmental groups such as Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Scenic Hudson, who have long argued for a new water cooling system.

“We’ve won the argument that the water cooling system has adverse affects,” said Phillip Museegas of Riverkeeper. “That’s a big one for us.”

Hearings will now be held next spring to hear arguments to determine what cooling system is best for Indian Point.

Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy, which owns Indian Point, said the DEC decision was fair because it allows for the energy company’s input.

“The process that was laid out gives us ample opportunity to make our case about the cooling methods which will make the most sense for Indian Point,” he said.

In effect, the DEC ruling said Entergy can no longer argue that its system doesn’t impact fish, said DEC spokesperson Yancy Roy.

“The decision means that the state is recommending Indian Point use closed cycle cooling,” Roy said. “But there are other mileposts to be met.”

Now both sides can raise questions about feasibility, impacts and alternatives to closed cycle cooling.

Indian Point currently uses a water cooling system known as “once-through” cooling, a relatively inexpensive system that helps generate power efficiently. The down side of once-through cooling is that the system traps larger fish against the intake screens. The smaller fish and larvae are sucked past the screens and into the cooling system. To date, 60 nuclear power plants of the 103 in the United States use once-through cooling systems.

The environmentally friendly “closed-cycle” cooling re-circulates the water in a closed system, substantially reducing the large amount of water needed from the Hudson River. The system also cools the returning water, lessening the effects on aquatic life.

The DEC has been extending Indian Point’s Clean Water Act permit using the once-through system since 1981. At that time a deal was made with then owner Con Ed that allowed the utility to operate without installing closed cycle cooling by agreeing not to construct a pump storage facility at Storm King, on the west side of the Hudson River.

Con Ed’s permit expired in 1992 but the DEC continued to issue temporary operating permits. In 2003, the DEC granted another permit stipulating that Entergy, who purchased Indian Point in 2001, install closed cycle cooling. Entergy has been challenging that ruling for the last five years.

Taking years to get a DEC ruling on the negative impacts on aquatic life seemed to be a convoluted process compounded by the industry deregulation of the 1990s, said Warren Reiss, general counsel for Scenic Hudson.

“Privately owned utilities were fighting tooth and nail against installing closed cycle cooling,” Reiss said. “These utilities have huge resources and hire hordes of lawyers, engineers and biologists – the best money can buy. If closed cycle cooling costs them tens of millions of dollars to install, they are very happy to spend just $1 million a year on lawyers to avoid that. To date, they have been very successful.”

Entergy has maintained that a new closed cycle cooling system would mean building huge cooling towers similar to the large concrete chimneys at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and would be cost prohibitive.

“We’ve done a study of cost estimates and the system that would be most appropriate for Indian Point will cost about $1.5 billion,” said Steets. “The towers wouldn’t be quite as big as Three Mile Island, but they would be about 100 feet wide and 150 feet tall. That would triple the footprint of Indian Point.”

Grassroot groups working to shutter Indian Point, such as Westchester Citizens Awareness Network (WESTCAN), have said the large, expensive cooling towers proposed by Entergy are propaganda.

“They talk about the costliest and most obtrusive technology available,” said Marilyn Elie, co-founder of WESTCAN. “They say that it’s economically unfeasible when they really have no intention of using such a system. It’s a bait-and-switch tactic geared towards scaring the public.”

Don Jackson, branch chief of Region One for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), said there are many different types of cooling systems from which to choose.

“It all depends on the needs of the plant,” he said. “Engineers from Indian Point will have to make a business decision on that.”

The NRC doesn’t have an opinion on what kind of cooling system is chosen because it doesn’t usually impact the safe, day-to-day operation of the plant, Jackson added.

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant on the Connecticut River in Vermont is also owned by Entergy and employs a cooling system with banks of 20 towers that are 70-feet tall.

Steets said that millions of dollars have already been spent upgrading the cooling system at Indian Point. The upgraded system now has variable speed pumps that limit the intake of water from the river and a fishery turn-screen that intercepts fish before being brought into the plant.

“In the last 15 years, Entergy, and Con Ed have spent over $40 million upgrading the cooling system for units 1 and 2,” Steets said. “So does it really make sense to replace the cooling system that has just a marginal impact? That’s the question that needs to be resolved.”

The DEC spring hearings will resemble a trial setting and will be open to the public.

“We are cautiously optimistic that this will result in a final decision requiring Indian Point to implement closed cycle cooling,” said Reiss.

2 Indian Point guards test positive for cocaine, are suspended

Is ANYONE awake?



March 22, 2008

BUCHANAN – Two Indian Point nuclear power plant security guards have been suspended for coming to work with cocaine in their systems, a spokesman for the plants’ owner said.

The workers’ apparent drug use didn’t compromise safety at the plant 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said.

The security guards’ suspensions came a month after a construction company supervisor tested positive for alcohol use and was barred from working at the plant.

The security guards – employed by New Orleans-based plant owner Entergy Nuclear – are on paid leave for two weeks. The company fires employees who fail drug tests twice, Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said.

One guard was tested for drugs after leaving her post unexpectedly and failing to respond when commanders radioed her Wednesday; she was found sick in a bathroom, Steets said.

The other guard was tested Thursday because he was returning from an absence of more than 29 days; he had been on military leave, according to plant officials.

Federal regulations say there can be no trace of alcohol or drugs in anyone working at a nuclear plant. Only 209 of the more than 70,000 tests of nuclear plant workers and contractors nationwide in 2006 came back positive, according to the NRC.

Steets said the security guards’ test results were unfortunate but showed that the plant was succeeding in efforts to make sure workers were fit for duty.

The NRC is “satisfied with how the company is handling the situation,” Sheehan said.

Another Indian Point security worker got into trouble in August, when the armed guard was found dozing at an inner-ring security gate. The NRC later determined the incident was of “very low security significance.”

The plant has about 1,300 employees.

Critics regularly express concern about the plant’s safety, but federal regulators have rejected calls to shut it down. Entergy has applied for new licenses that would let Indian Point keep running into the 2030s.