Indian Point’s Response to PBS FRONTLINE’s “Nuclear Aftershocks”
We found the Frontline piece informative in many respects and relatively balanced.
We believe Frontline performed a service by examining what took place at Fukushima and exploring the advantages and disadvantages of various electricity production methods. We also have been documenting in great detail what took place at Fukushima to capture possible lessons-learned, and to some extent we have been reassured about our own protections. And, while we have different views of some of the issues raised in the piece, we are very appreciative of Frontline for providing us the opportunity to talk about Indian Point's safety, including its protections against severe weather related events and earthquakes.
There were two key issues raised in the piece concerning Indian Point that we believe deserve another perspective and additional relevant facts.
Professor Lynn Sykes' view that there is a second fault line near the Ramapo fault and a greater potential for larger earthquakes than previously understood is different from other respected seismologists. One such seismologist, Rutgers Professor Alec Gates, said after the Japan earthquake and tsunami last year that the "The Ramapo fault is dead." Another, Professor Alan Kafka of Boston College, disputes Sykes' claim that there is a newly discovered fault line near the Ramapo fault. And a third seismologist, Won-Yung Kim, agreed in an interview with a television reporter, also last year, that an earthquake in the Hudson Valley would "not be large enough to disturb a facility like Indian Point."
Also, contrary to a statement made in the report, the Ramapo fault was significantly studied when the Indian Point reactors were licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Earthquakes in the region were characterized then as minor and relatively trivial by the noted seismologist Charles Richter of Cal Tech, who is the originator of the Richter scale that monitors and measures earthquakes.
We also believe a broader perspective could have been taken relative to the emergency planning issue. The area's emergency response plan is a very comprehensive plan that is practiced and exercised regularly by multiple local, state and federal agencies and Entergy. The reporter dismissed any chance of an effective evacuation by, in our view, unfairly comparing an evacuation to the daily trials of dealing with rush hour traffic--two very different situations. NRC Chairman Jazcko recently noted that Fukushima demonstrated nuclear accidents are slow moving, allowing enough time for evacuation. We, of course, believe we have the plant's physical protections, operating procedures and continually trained staff that would prevent the need for an actual evacuation in the first place.
We are very proud of Indian Point and happy to show visitors that the plants are well maintained and in good material condition. In fact, they are in good enough condition to allow-- with our NRC-approved maintenance programs--the plants to operate safely for another 20 years.