Reactor a health danger

NEW YORK – A Forum for Closing Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant was held here Feb. 7. It included six panelists and an audience of over 100 concerned people. Indian Point Nuclear Reactor is located in Buchanan, N.Y., 25 miles from New York City, and accounts for 20 percent of all electricity supplied to New York State.

Indian Point is owned by Entergy Corp., which bought it from Con Edison. Entergy, a Louisiana-based global power company, is notorious for firing the skilled work force, postponing maintenance and cutting back on security.

The company has been fined repeatedly by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and state regulators, due to negligence and safety concerns. In the last two-and-a-half-years Indian Point 2 has had two major emergencies that could have led to nuclear meltdowns.

It doesn’t take an accident for a nuclear power plant to release radioactivity into the air, water and soil, just the plant’s everyday routine operation.

A typical 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactor with a cooling tower takes 20,000 gallons of water per minute for cooling. A 1,000-megawatt reactor without a cooling tower takes as much as half-a-million gallons per minute. The discharged water is contaminated with radioactive elements. Government regulations allow radioactive water to be released to the environment containing “permissible” levels of contamination. However, “permissible” does not mean safe.

Indian Point’s high-level nuclear waste is stored in three pools of water on site. These pools are located in standard industrial buildings and are highly vulnerable and difficult to secure. One of these pools is already leaking. A loss of cooling water in the pools could lead to a tremendous fire and release of radioactive material.

The Indian Point reactors dump radioactive waste into the Hudson River. What they don’t dump into the river, they dump in poor communities, American Indian communities and other communities of color.

More than 2 million people live within 100 miles of Indian Point. Governor George Pataki has given the okay for the state certification of an evacuation plan for Indian Point. This evacuation plan is unrealistic and wholly inadequate. At the same time, Pataki has requested $1.2 million in federal aid for anti-radiation tablets to be supplied to residents living near power plants.