Friday, November 23, 2007

NRC Has MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) With Father Winter?

I know, weird question right? WRONG. Earlier this year I was on a rant, trying to force the NRC, and Westchester County to answer a simple question. If there is a significant fast moving event at Indian Point, and we are ordered to "Shelter In Place" in our homes in the middle of a snow storm with no heat, how long would we have before the effects of hypothermia start setting in. At the time it seemed like a simple enough question, but try getting and answer.

So, fast forward, and as Old Man Winter (Father Winter) settles in for a long cold snowy season, the issue started to dance again upon my mind. That's right, nine months after the fact, the NRC, FEMA and Westchester Emergency Management have refused to give us here at GNB a straight answer, but instead suggested we make sure to have extra blankets in our basement shelter area. I started doing some research, and found out a rather disturbing factoid if you well that I feel like sharing with our readers.

First, lets set the stage for everyone. There is a Nor'easter brewing, our local Channel 12 weather forecaster is warning us to stay inside and off the highways. The snow is already falling, and we are expected to get 15-18 inches of the white stuff! A few hours later, winds gusting to 70 MPH, snow drifts six feet tall in places, our cars BURIED, a reporter interrupts to bring us and important BREAKING NEWS STORY. There is an EMERGENCY at Indian Point, a LOCA (Loss of Coolant Accident).

Remember our Emergency Evacuation Plan? Seems there is some not very publicly advertised FINE PRINT that FEMA, DHS and the NRC would just as soon we as citizens not focus on:

The Emergency Evacuation time estimates do not cover severe winter storms, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommends that the adverse weather time estimate tables clearly state: 1) that they do not include [1] the time necessary to clear roads; and 2) that the time to clear roads be added to the time necessary to clear all lanes of all roads, and safely evacuation the citizens.
Houston, we have a problem!

If you live close to a nuclear reactor, and want to say something like, "You have got to be f**king kidding me!" we here at GNB completely understand. Just last winter, one storm saw us not fully plowed out for two days! Sure if there was a significant NUCLEAR INCIDENT at Indian Point in the middle of a Nor'easter, that we could be trapped in our homes for a far longer period of time...however, even if we are not trapped in our homes, there is that small issue of shoveling our cars out during nuclear fallout.

OK, so evacuation is OUT, at least in the near term, so we pull out that Emergency Planning booklet and resort to plan B, sheltering in place. Follow along with me here:

1. Stay inside!
2. Make sure to CLOSE all windows and doors!
3. Turn off your heat, and shut all wood burning stove and fire place Flues!


It is the middle of FREAKING winter, we have maybe two feet of snow on the ground, no one is going anywhere, and now we HAVE NO HEAT? For those of you thinking you'll use the electric blanket, forget about it. There is a very good chance that we also will not have electricity if Indian Point blows.

So, no heat, no electric, huddled behind plastic sheeting duct taped over our basement windows, we stare at our battery powered radio, listening, hoping for any kind of news, and find ourselves asking the same question, "How long do we have before the effects of hypothermia set in?
PS...if we are snowed in, wondering how Entergy plans on getting their workers back to the plant from Dutchess County to help deal with the crisis. Maybe the NRC has and MOU with Father Winter.

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