BUCHANAN, NY (WCBS 880) - With the earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan leaving nuclear reactors there on the verge of meltdown, those who live around them in our area are on edge.
A new report shows federal inspectors logged several "near miss" accidents at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan in 2010.
Former Westchester County Assemblyman Richard Brodsky calls the findings troubling. Brodsky questioned whether the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, charged with ensuring the safety of nuclear facilities, was up to the job.
"The NRC is to nuclear power today what the SEC was to Wall Street three years ago," says Brodsky.
New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission saying that earthquake resistance should be taken into account when granting new licenses that would keep the plants working well into 2030.
WCBS 880's Marla Diamond with Richard Brodsky
Indian Point 2 is licensed through 2013 and Indian Point 3 through 2015. A commission spokesperson said the NRC would review the request and get back to the attorney general.
WCBS 880's Marla Diamond also gets comments from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
Richard Sheirer, who headed the New York City Office of Emergency Management during 9/11, insists the plant is safe. Sheirer is a safety consultant for the plant.
"I'm very confident. I think they do an exceptional job," says Sheirer.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is making it crystal clear that he does not believe that Indian Point should be shut down at this point.
Mayor Bloomberg discusses Indian Point
"We need energy in this city, and the first thing we have to do is take a very close look at what happened in Japan and see if there's any lessons that we should learn from that and any improvements that we should learn and make at Indian Point," said Bloomberg.
Long term, Bloomberg says more energy is needed from different sources, including wind, solar - even reclaiming power from garbage. Short term, Bloomberg said, Indian Point is necessary. Sheirer agreed: the benefits of the plant outweigh the risks.
Some Rockland County residents don't share that view.
WCBS 880's Peter Haskell in Stony Point
Resident Jessie Razarian told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell she wouldn't stand a chance in the event disaster struck the plant - and any evacuation attempt would be pointless. "Instead of sitting in traffic, I'd rather sit with my family, listen to music, watch movies, and enjoy the rest [of] what [time] we have."
In response to comments offered by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman regarding Indian Point, John Durso, Jr., Executive Director for the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA) issued the following statement:
"For more than 30 years, independent experts have studied seismic related issues about Indian Point and continually found the facility to be safe. In 2008 a panel of highly renowned, independent experts evaluated 64 safety issues at Indian Point, including seismic design, and also determined the plant is very safe.
There are also fundamental differences between Indian Point and the Fukushima plants. Indian Point is on a river, 24 miles from the coast, while Fukushima is on an ocean. Tsunamis are known to occur in Japan; there is no record of them in New York State, especially so well inland. Important lessons will be learned from Fukushima and there will be even higher safety standards and practices at U.S. nuclear plants.
We urge all policy makers as well as the nuclear power industry to pay attention to these findings so that nuclear power in New York and the United States will continue to provide clean, reliable and safe energy in the future."
What do you think? Should Indian Point be shut down, or is it safe? Sound off in our comments section.
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