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Public Citizen Petitions NRC to Shut Down NY Reactor

Jan. 11, 2001

Public Citizen Petitions NRC to Shut Down NY Reactor

Regulator Allowed Reactor Restart Without Conducting
Required Emergency Planning Drill

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Public Citizen today petitioned the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to halt the operation of the Indian Point 2 nuclear plant in New York until Consolidated Edison, the owner and operator of the reactor, has conducted a full participation emergency planning exercise as required by federal regulations.

“The NRC has stated that ‘the licensee will remain in compliance with the biennial requirement until December 31, 2000,'” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “If the NRC is to be taken at its word, then they must acknowledge the fact that the Indian Point 2 is now in violation of those requirements.”

Emergency planning is especially important because Indian Point 2 is located 24 miles from New York City and 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. The nuclear reactor has been idle since last February, when a steam generator tube rupture released radiation into the environment and forced the plant to shut down.

“The NRC could have assured compliance with regulations had it merely required that the licensee conduct the required emergency planning drill at any time during the last 300 days that the reactor has been shut down,” said James Riccio, senior analyst for Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “However, it appears that NRC senior managers were more concerned with restarting the reactor than ensuring that the public will be protected in the event of an accident.”

When conducting an emergency drill, plant workers must practice the steps they would take to evacuate nearby towns in the event of a nuclear accident. NRC regulations require such drills to be done every two years. However, the last time such a drill was performed at Indian Point 2 was June 1998. Other groups signing on to the petition include the Citizens Awareness Network, Environmental Advocates, Nuclear Information & Resource Service, PACE Law School Energy Project and the Union of Concerned Scientists.