The Independent Safety Assessment for New York Story – Episode Two- When we last wrote- US Representatives from New York had introduced legislation requiring an Independent Safety Assessment (of the size and scope of that performed at Maine Yankee in 1996) be done at the Indian point Nuclear Power Plants. Senator Hillary Clinton extracted a promise from Nils Diaz, Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that an in-depth safety review would be done- with Senator Clinton admonishing that she wanted it in writing and that it had better meet the criteria in the bill.
Yesterday (March 14) NRC representatives led by License Extension Chief Johnny Eads met with Vermont State Senators (among them, Janette White, Rod Gander, Mark MacDonald). Louis Porter of AP News was in the room. The NRC staffers told the Vermont Senators that New York would not get an ISA; that NRC Chairman Diaz had sent a letter to Sen. Clinton prescribing the same NRC team engineering inspection that was done at Vermont Yankee.A link to a sound file of the conversation between Senator Clinton and Chairman Diaz is included at the end of Senator Clinton’s Press Release- Below.
Episode Three-The Chairman’s Letter
March 9, 2006
Senator Clinton Wins NRC Commitment to Conduct an In-Depth Review of Indian Point
Details of Review to be Provided In a NRC Letter to Senator Clinton
Washington, DC – At a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, Senator Clinton secured a commitment from U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Nils Diaz to conduct an independent safety review of the Indian Point power plant. Senator Clinton received the commitment after telling NRC Chairman Diaz that she supports legislation offered by Representatives Hinchey, Kelly, Lowey and Engel to require what is known as an “Independent Safety Assessment” at Indian Point.
“I am very pleased that the NRC made a commitment to me earlier today to conduct a thorough, independent review of Indian Point,” said Senator Clinton. “NRC Chairman Diaz will be following up with a letter to me detailing that commitment, and as I explained to the Chairman, I expect that it will incorporate the elements included in the legislation introduced by my House colleagues.”
At the hearing, the Senator explained her support for an independent review:
“As I have indicated, public confidence in the plant has been steadily eroded by a series of mishaps at the plant. And so, when the NRC completes its normal review processes, as happened recently, and gives the plant a clean bill of health, it doesn’t inspire public confidence,” Senator Clinton said.
“I think the NRC ought to conduct such an assessment. I, for one, would not prejudge the outcome. But going through the process can only increase public confidence if the plant is being run well, as the NRC says, and the plant therefore holds up to this extremely high level of scrutiny.”
After Chairman Diaz agreed to the Senator’s request for an independent safety review, Senator Clinton asked for his promise in writing: “I greatly appreciate the commitment of the NRC to conduct a thorough, independent safety assessment, however, I just want to be assured that it is as thorough and comprehensive and independent as we possibly can make it,” Clinton said.
Earlier this week, Representatives Hinchey (NY), Lowey (NY), Eliot Engel (NY), and Sue Kelly (NY) introduced legislation that would require the NRC to conduct an “Independent Safety Assessment” at Indian Point. The legislation would require a focused, in-depth assessment of the design, construction, maintenance, and operational safety performance of Indian Point. It also requires a comprehensive evaluation of the emergency evacuation plan for the nuclear power plant in the event of a terrorist attack or radiological accident. The details of the NRC review that Chairman Diaz announced today will be included in a letter that the NRC will send to Senator Clinton in the coming weeks. Senator Clinton reiterated her support for the legislation after the hearing.
“I am hopeful that today’s commitment will make legislation unnecessary, but I will introduce Senate legislation if the NRC’s letter does not fully address my concerns.”
The Senator’s exchange with Chairman Diaz can be listened to at:
Staff Technical Advisor
New England Coalition
Post Office Box 98
Edgecomb, Maine 04556