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N.Y. Nuclear Plant Restart Violates Regulations

Jan. 4, 2001

N.Y. Nuclear Plant Restart Violates Regulations

NRC Allows Reactor to Restart Without Emergency Planning Drill

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Consolidated Edison this week restarted the Indian Point 2 nuclear plant in New York in violation of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations requiring the company to conduct a biennial emergency drill.

Emergency preparedness is particularly important at Indian Point 2, located 24 miles north of New York City, because it has the highest population within 10, 30 and 50 miles of any nuclear power plant in the U.S. At 50 miles, its population is more than double any other nuclear reactor in the country. Further, in a February 2000 accident, a steam generator tube burst, releasing radiation into the environment and leading to the reactor?s shutdown for the rest of the year.

“The NRC’s priorities are misplaced,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “The restart of Indian Point 2 proves that the NRC treats emergency planning as secondary in importance to electricity production.”

In the required emergency drill, plant workers must go through the steps they would take to evacuate nearby towns in the event of a nuclear accident. The last time such a drill was performed at Indian Point 2 was June 1998. NRC regulations require such drills to be done every two years.

In the wake of the February accident, Public Citizen petitioned the NRC to prohibit the restart of the nuclear reactor until Consolidated Edison, the reactor?s owner and operator, successfully completed the emergency exercise. The NRC denied the petition, stating that “the licensee will remain in compliance with the biennial requirement until December 31, 2000. . . . Since the licensee plans to restart before December 31, 2000, an emergency preparedness exercise is not required prior to restart of IP2.”

“Consolidated Edison has repeatedly bungled emergency planning at Indian Point, and the NRC has done nothing about it,” said James Riccio, senior policy analyst for Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “The NRC ignored its own regulations and allowed the reactor to resume operations this week without showing that the public will be protected in the event of another accident.”