Last week, some important information came out of the Annual Assessment meeting, including a statement, that Entergy needs to submit their license renewal application by the end of the month. If the source (Sam Collins of the NRC) is correct, then the clock starts ticking on Wednesday, May 1st, 2007. NRC gives a 24-30 month time line for license renewals, but have accomplished the task with another Entergy reactor in as little as 17 months. There are hundreds of reasons to deny Indian Point's license renewal application, but if other reactors serve as example, the NRC is unwilling to consider any of them, which means we as a community need to make hard decisions, and depending on what they are, draw the proverbial line in the sand as we prepare our battle strategy.
With this reality before us, there was a second very important fact that came out in the NRC's Annual Assessment meeting. After Mark Jacobs delivered his impassioned condemnation of both Entergy's Indian Point facility, and NRC for their lack of any meaningful regulatory control, Sam Collins again spoke on behalf of his agency. Some may have missed two crucial admissions as he spoke. In case of a FAST MOVING EVENT, evacuation will not work, the NRC, Entergy and FEMA will have no choice but to rely on sheltering in place.
First, we have a key employee of the NRC admitting publicly in and open meeting that the evacuation plan will not work, cannot be implemented in the case of a fast moving event or terrorist attack at the Indian Point facility...within that admission is the cold tacit truth that none of the evacuation plans for every reactor in America are workable in the case of a fast moving incident or terrorist attack. If you look at the action plan, the only kind of event that would elevate to a level that the sirens and evacuation plan would come into play, is a fast moving event.
Secondly, Sam admitted that the Emergency Response teams would rely on sheltering in place in the case of a fast moving event. Being blunt, sheltering in our homes in the case of a fast breaking significant event will sentence many of us to death. The State Department's website envisions a scenario wherein citizens could be sheltered in place for a period of up to two weeks, perhaps longer. Without an adequately supplied and equipped shelter, we as citizens are vulnerable to the ravages of the radioactive fallout from a significant radiological event. The NRC attempts to mitigate this reality, by mitigating the odds of such an event occurring.
I've alienated some with my blunt assessments, with my in your face approach to this battle as it looms ever closer. Apologize for that, but we do not have time on our side, do not have the luxury of hammering out and reaching consensus between the various groups and factions in this fight...the leaders have to step up with a battle plan, or plans, and the foot soldiers need to be ready for deployment where and when needed, or we are doomed to failure, in this case failure being saddled with Indian Point for a period of forty more years.
So, what is a workable strategy? Sadly, I do not have a crystal ball, no soothsayer with whom to consult. However, do have some hunches, do feel we can greatly weaken the entire license renewal process by attaching the NRC's flanks, using their own bureaucracy to slow them down, if not stop it in its tracks. For the strategy to have a chance, we need volunteers, not just here in our own community, but in every reactor community in America.
The NRC's 10 CFR Rules and Regulations provide numerous avenues for citizen stakeholders to get involved in the process. There is the NRC's Office of The Inspector General, there is the ability to file for intervenor status, and there is the ability to file a petition for rule change. With these access tools, we have the ability to swamp if not collapse the NRC's regulatory process. Yes, we use their own rules and regulations to strangle them, we barage the agency with hundreds of thousands of pages of paperwork they have to deal with and address.
Magaret Mead stated, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, devoted citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that has" , and my idea takes that truth and multiplys it across America as Aging Reactor host communities join together as one to take on the entire nuclear industry. 104 reactors in 67 American communities, and almost every community hosting a reactor wants them shut down...it can happen if we use our grassroots organizations, and numbers to our favor and advantage.
In our own area of Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Dutchess counties how many individual citizens want Indian Point shut down? How many members can Riverkeeper, IPSEC and Clearwater rally to our cause? Multiply that times 67 reactor communities, and how many others around other dangerous sites such as Barnwell would join in the fight? Nationwide, we could have a veritable Army of activists waiting on their marching orders. So, what do we do?
We use the regulatory process to our advantage by having this citizen army file individual separate petitions for rule making. We have these citizens write up and mail in allegations to the NRC's Office of The Inspector General. We have this citizen army of activists all across the nation mailing in letters demanding intervener status for their own reactor sites. Imagine for a moment even 67,000 citizens (1000 from each reactor community) each mailing in one petition for rule making, one letter of allegation, and one letter demanding intervener status. That's 201,000 documents that the NRC has to deal with! With three simple letters from each activist, we have a great chance of bogging down the NRC, forcing them to come to the negotiation table, forcing them to end a re licensing process that is corrupt to its core.
NRC does NOT consider:
Fatally Flawed Emergency Evacuation Plan
Population changes/density of surrounding area,
Ongoing leaks of strontium 90 and tritium
Terrorism, or Plant security
The hour grows late, and our communities are running out of time. The call for and ISA is non-workable, and is not going to occur. Desperate times call for bold and decisive actions. If others have ideas, lets hear them now, and map out our plan. One thing is certain...we need a miracle, and most miracles come from a lot of hard work, and the willingness to take risks.