Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Counties Will Not Get Entergy Fines-Maybe Congressman Hall Should Introduce A Bill So They Do?

In their usual fashion, the NRC has issued a letter denying a request by the four counties, that have to absorb the costs of having Entergy forced upon us, which would have funneled the most recent $130,000 fine for non-working alarm systems down to the local level. They claim they have no authorization for such a move, that they are required to place the money in their own United States Treasury account. Seems to me, that Congressman John Hall needs to introduce a bill that would funnel all money collected in fines back into the local communities. The other option, the NRC should have their yearly federal tax payers budget reduced by the amount of fines collected from these violations.

NRC: Indian Point fines won't go to county coffers

(Original Publication: June 12, 2007)

WHITE PLAINS - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected Westchester County's request that Indian Point's $130,000 fine for failing to install emergency sirens on time be spread among the four counties within 10 miles of the nuclear reactors to defray emergency preparation costs.

"It's government 1, the people 0," said Susan Tolchin, chief adviser to Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano. The NRC was "right to give Entergy a penalty on this, but the bottom line is, funnel that money to the counties whose taxpayers are paying for emergency services."

The federal nuclear regulators fined Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owner of Indian Point, for missing its April 15 deadline to install a new emergency alert system.The company has since vowed to have the sirens operating by August. In the mean time, residents of Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Orange counties must rely on a decades-old set of 156 sirens with a spotty performance record in the past two years.

Indian Point's siren system is used to alert residents of an emergency atthe plant and to signal them to check their televisions or radios for further instructions.The 150 new sirens, which will have backup battery power and can be sounded through cell antennas or radio systems, eventually will replace the existing system.

In a letter dated Friday, Cynthia Carpenter, director of the NRC's Office of Enforcement, said the agency was required to deposit the fine money into the U.S. Treasury rather than send it to local governments." The NRC does not have the authority to redirect such funds for non appropriated programs," Carpenter wrote to Anthony Sutton, Westchester County's commissioner of emergency services. "As such, the NRC is unable to honor your request.

"NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the agency has no latitude on the issue because of the federal Miscellaneous Receipts Act, which controls how money paid to the U.S. government must be handled." The Miscellaneous Receipts Act is designed to guarantee that Congress retains control of the public purse," Sheehan said. "It would take legislation to allow us to do this, and there isn't anything pending."

Tolchin said that the county would talk to its congressional representatives, who had already voiced their support of local municipalities receiving the fine money. Entergy officials reiterated yesterday that the discussion of who ultimately gets the fine money doesn't involve them. Sutton pressed the NRC in his May 15 letter to follow precedent that has allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to direct money elsewhere, but Sheehan said his agency's research showed that those transactions have not involved third parties.

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