Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Looking Into The Near Future-Safety and Security Assessments

Do These Stacks LOOK Environmentally Green?

Thought before I head out today for a bit, that I would lay out some strategy to think about as we get ready to move into the future. As the time gets closer here, there is a large contingent of people that want Indian Point Reactors 2 and 3. Yesterday, the members of the Board of Legislators' Environment and Energy Committee voted5-0 to send the legislation to the floor asking for a safety and security assessment. That legistlation will be on the agenda for the Feb. 12 meeting of the17-member county lawmaking body. With other surrounding counties already on board with resolutions of their own, look for Congressman Maurice Hinchey to introduce a federal bill sometime shortly after that. Hilliary Clinton has already promised to work on a similiar bill in the Senate...she will need to be pushed, as the last bill she submitted on this, managed to get ZERO co-signers...in short, she did not work that HARD on it.

Hinchey's bill will get three instant co-signers, John Hall among them, and probably Nita Lowey.

If there ever was a bill RIPE for the picking to run this issue up the national ladder, this is the one to use. Further reason for this, is Governor Eliot Spitzer is on record as saying he wants to CLOSE Indian Point. With Hillary Clinton having announced her intention to run for President, she has to introduce her bill...we can force her hand. We are 103 communities strong, and I am sure in those 103 Communities, several Senators have publicly stated their opposition to the reactors in their voting districts...we need to find those Senators, make contact with their communities, and get them to hold their Senators feet to the fire and sign on.

Now, every bill is open to Amendments...here is where our potential power in numbers can begin paying huge dividends if we can bring enough communities into the fight. Looking at some of the relicensing fights already gone, and some of the decisions made, think there should be three main issues we want addressed in a National Bill.

1. Safety and Security Assessments for every nuclear facility in America. (Notice the use of nuclear facility instead of Reactor.) Through slight of hand, as just one example the NRC has wrongfully removed spent fuel pools from the relicensing procedure, relying on a fatally flawed GEIS...more on that later. We want the whole industry stem to stern checked out, including experimental reactors, DOE, uranium processing facilities, Barnwell, the works.

2. We want all relicenses already approved set aside, and a moratorium placed on the entire relicensing process until A) the assessments have been fully completed and documented for review by B) a Blue Ribbon nuclear industry Commission that will include at least one member of the stakeholder community with no ties to the nuclear industry and/or government, and one member from each community's grassroots anti-nuclear community. We need to end the process that unfairly stacks the deck in favor the nuclear industry, and a Nuclear Renaissance.

3. A ban on any/all new reactors (including the license of same) until such time as the DOE and all all parties to the nuclear waste stream can prove through working, fully functioning technology that they can deal with and safely dispose of both current and future waste streams that are being, and would be created by the Nuclear Industry. DOE/DOD past track record with the mixing of waster streams and suspension has been dismal...Hanford is just one perfect example of this. $5.7 Billion dollars later, and that site is not even close to being SAFE and FULLY remediated, and may never be so.

A bold agenda, but think about this...we know who is going to introduce this legislation, so we have our target...just like the Pro Nuclear Lobby ALWAYS DOES. Each of our communities know their own federally elected officials, know how to put heat on them. With the 2008 Presidential Election looming fast upon the horizon, they cannot afford to be caught talking out of both sides of their mouth...if they have stated their support for closing your community's reactor in the past, and now try to change horses midstream, they can be voted out of office. Both parties are going to be looking for a way to either stay in the majority, or win back the majority. In short, no one can afford to be alienating a large group of us tree huggers, as we can bring enough resources into local campaigns to change some faces in Washington, DC.

The KEY...networking. We need more cosigners on our letter to Greenpeace, need more local organizations getting on board. There is POWER in numbers. The numbers are there. We can all close ranks and stand united on this important issue. Some will say show me the proof. Well, the proof is there. Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on regardling illegal aliens, one thing is certain...their grassroots efforts, their closing of ranks and marching together on their singular issue has gained the National Spotlight, and STAYED THERE. Our grassroots groups, our formally recognized organizations are there, now we have to bring all the players together in one big national campaign, starting WORKING TOGETHER as one voice, with one message.

By Greg Clary
The Journal News
(Original Publication: January 23, 2007)

WHITE PLAINS - As the debate over safety at Indian Point escalates, a Westchester County committee yesterday approved a resolution asking Congress to require an in-depth review of the nuclear plants.

Members of the Board of Legislators' Environment and Energy Committee voted 5-0 to send the legislation to the floor for the Feb. 12 meeting of the 17-member county lawmaking body.

"We want some independent analysis done," said Legislator Thomas Abinanti, D-Greenburgh, the environmental committee chairman. "As the home county, we want to add our name to the list."

Westchester joins Rockland County, which approved a similar measure less than a month ago, and other area counties supporting the area's congressional representatives as they ask their federal colleagues to vote to require an "Independent Safety Assessment" at Indian Point.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is currently conducting a less-detailed inspection at the Buchanan site as part of its regular oversight process, has said an ISA is not needed.

Opponents of the plant have pointed to continuing leaks of tritium and strontium 90 at Indian Point, unplanned reactor shutdowns and some workers' saying they can't speak up without fear of retribution as some of the reasons a deeper look is needed.

NRC officials have said the radiation leaks are being investigated on their own and because of that, the plant is already getting a higher-than-normal level of oversight.

A bipartisan resolution introduced last year to require the NRC to conduct the safety review never made it out of committee in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

The federal lawmakers behind that effort - including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton - have vowed to push the legislation in the new, Democrat-controlled Congress.

Local resolutions like the one that the Westchester Board of Legislators will consider are not binding and are often undertaken to officially support a federal action.

Indian Point officials say the plant is safe and opponents' efforts to force the assessment are thinly veiled attempts to close a plant that generates enough electricity to power 2 million homes.

"We don't believe an ISA is warranted, but we'll abide by whatever decision is made by the NRC or Congress," Indian Point spokesman Jim Steets said in a telephone interview after yesterday's vote.

"I would hope that if such an inspection proves the plant is operating safely, as the NRC has long said, that those calling for the inspection would then support the energy plant, but I doubt it."

Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, a member of the environment committee, said the entire federal legislation under which the NRC regulates the nuclear industry is out-of-date.

He said that one of the next big battles in that arena is to get Congress to revamp the legislation, called the Atomic Energy Act. The act took effect in 1954.

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