Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2013-2014
The former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Gregory Jaczko, has recently pointed out dangerous flaws in emergency planning for a catastrophic event at the Indian Point nuclear reactor in Buchanan, New York, 30 miles north of New York City. Jaczko said Oct. 6 that he fears the plans are not designed to ensure residents will be able to escape radioactive fallout during a large release. Jaczko went so far as to say it would be best if the reactor was closed down. Since Jaczko stepped down from his position in 2012 — over intense clashes with the nuclear industry and the other four NRC commissioners — he has not been shy about voicing his dissatisfaction with reactor oversight. The incident at Fukushima appears to be the turning point in his career. The Japanese reactors that were destroyed are the same age as those at Indian Point and many of the other 104 reactors in the US.
Jaczko is concerned that the Indian Point evacuation plan only seeks to minimize radioactive contamination of those living within 10 miles of the reactor — ignoring the 20 million people living within 50 miles. Jaczko’s NRC told US citizens in Japan in 2011 to stay 50 miles away from the devastated Fukushima triple melt-throughs, while the Japanese government only imposed a 12 mile exclusion zone. Jaczko has warned that the industry operational assumption that “worst case scenarios cannot happen” is unreasonable. Jaczko said, “Ultimately, time and effort would be better spent working out a way to shut down Indian Point. Clearly there is a potential for severe accidents at the reactor … [and could] contaminate areas beyond Westchester County. That’s not to say Westchester alone should suffer that kind of consequence. I think the best scenario would be to sit down with the State, with all the stakeholders, and work out a plan to shut it down. They should work out a plan in a coordinated manner to find reasonable alternatives for replacement power.”
— Bloomberg News, March 21, 2011; Huffington Post, Oct. 8, 2013; IEEE Spectrum, Oct. 10, 2013. — PVB