Clearwater Testimony in Indian Point Relicensing Process Shows Plant’s Environmental Justice Impacts

Research Reveals Failure to Address the Plant’s Disproportionate Effects on People of Color, People with Low-Incomes, Disabilities and/or Limited Mobility

WHAT:  The Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan, New York, 25 miles north of New York City, is reaching the end of its designed 40-year lifespan.  Since it was built, the plant has aged, become embrittled, been subject to many leaks and accidents, passed to private, for-profit ownership, stored more dangerous spent fuel than it was designed to handle, and posed growing health and safety threats to the surrounding population, which has greatly increased.  Nonetheless, plant owner Entergy Corporation has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to renew Indian Point’s license for another 20 years.  The NRC review of the application is underway now.  Clearwater is one of three parties with standing before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (the others are Riverkeeper and New York State) to challenge Indian Point’s relicensing.  Clearwater has gathered evidence it will file with the ASLB on December 22, 2011 as testimony the NRC must consider in the relicensing process.  It shows that the NRC and Entergy failed to address the environmental justice impacts of relicensing, and that Indian Point’s continued operation disproportionately threatens the safety of the very young, the very old, lower-income and minority residents, and people with disabilities and/or limited mobility.

Children in day care, those without cars who rely on public transportation, people living in shelters, seniors in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, patients in hospitals and other institutionalized populations living near Indian Point are virtually ignored by evacuation planning, Clearwater’s research found. Largely lower-income and minority residents, in the event of a serious accident at the plant, they would lack access to transportation, potassium iodide or even adequate provision to shelter in place.   The NRC has failed to recognize the disproportionate impacts a serious accident at Indian Point would have on them, failed to look for ways to reduce these impacts, and failed to assess the plant’s environmental impact statement with respect to them.  This shows a complete disregard for low-income, minority, disabled and institutionalized populations living near the plant, violating principles of environmental justice and procedures under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for identifying and addressing environmental justice concerns.  “These failures mean that the relicensing of Indian Point cannot proceed,” said Richard Webster of Public Justice, a Washington DC-based public interest law firm, who is serving as a consultant to Clearwater.

More current information and resources on Indian Point’s environmental justice impacts, along with other vital safety, health and environmental considerations that the NRC excluded from consideration in the relicensing process, are posted at  http://www.clearwater.org/ea/power-plants-energy/indian-point-campaign/.   As former NRC commissioner Victor Gilinski wrote in The New York Times December 17,

“A severe accident at Indian Point…is a remote but real possibility. We’ve had two severe accidents with large releases of radioactivity in the past…. We now know that radioactive material in the melted fuel can escape to contaminate a very large area for decades or more. It

doesn’t make sense to allow such a threat to persist a half-hour’s drive from our nation’s largest city.”

WHO:  Here are some of the experts and residents who can speak about the environmental justice impacts of Indian Point and some of the particular threats it poses to low-income, minority, institutionalized and transportation-dependent populations living near the plant:

  • Manna Jo Greene – Environmental Director, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, who conducted extensive research on the disproportionate negative impacts of Indian Point on environmental justice populations living near the plant.
  • Richard Webster —  Attorney with the Environmental Enforcement Project of the DC-based consulting firm Public Justice, who is serving as a consultant to Clearwater.
  • Aaron Mair – founder and executive director of Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corporation, longtime leader in the environmental justice movement and native of Peekskill.   
  • Michael Edelstein — Professor of environmental psychology at New Jersey’s Ramapo College.
  • Stephen Filler – Attorney and Board member, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.

WHERE AND WHEN:  Clearwater’s written testimony will be complete and filed with the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board on December 22, and at that time made available to the media and the public.   The above sources live locally and are available for interviews on request.

To request a copy of the written testimony or interviews with residents and experts about environmental justice impacts of Indian Point, contact Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com 914-589-5988.

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