March 22, 2011

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All citizens of New York need to have access to the pertinent facts regarding Indian Point. We strongly believe that knowing the facts will answer the public's questions and will also clearly demonstrate that this facility is safe - designed with a margin of safety beyond the strongest earthquake anticipated in the area.

Accordingly, Entergy welcomes Governor Cuomo's call for a review of Indian Point by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In contrast to the thoughtful response of public officials and regulators, you will hear attempts by opponents of nuclear power to use the crisis in Japan to escalate the fears of the public in order to further their longstanding goals of closing Indian Point. You should know the following facts.

  • U.S. Energy Secretary Chu, when asked about Indian Point on Sunday, said, "We believe that reactor is safe. There is constant scrutiny of the reactors in all of our plants around the United States." In addition, two separate, independent organizations - INPO, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, and the NRC - have deemed Indian Point to be safe.
  • The NRC issued a report last week about seismic risk. It stated, "Current operating nuclear plants in the U.S. remain safe, with no need for immediate action. This determination is based on NRC staff reviews of updated seismic hazard information... Existing nuclear plants were designed with considerable margin to be able to withstand the ground motions for the... largest earthquakes expected in the areas around the plant."
  • The NRC report also explains that "subduction zone" earthquakes are required to produce the kind of massive tsunami seen in Japan, and that no such subduction zones exist off the east coast of the United States.
  • Importantly, Indian Point has been designed to withstand an earthquake 100 times the magnitude of the strongest earthquake that has occurred in the area.
  • We obviously don't know the full story from Japan, but the NRC stated that the information available suggests that the tsunami appears to have played a key role in the loss of power at the site. The principal sources of back-up power at Fukushima, the emergency diesels, were stored below grade and consequently flooded by the tsunami, resulting in a complete loss of emergency power. At Indian Point we have multiple layers of backup sources above ground to deal with a loss of power from the grid, commonly referred to as "defense in depth." Loss of grid power is a scenario for which we have well developed procedures and for which we train and drill regularly.

In light of the accident at Fukushima, we will of course be reviewing our procedures, training and equipment. Questions we will be addressing - at our own company and as an industry through INPO and the NRC - include:

a) Are the loss of power contingency scenarios that we currently plan for sufficiently robust, or are there additional scenarios for which we should be preparing?

b) Do we have adequate equipment redundancy to deal with these scenarios, taking into account possible common failure modes? (For instance, we are considering pre-positioning off-site emergency generators that could be brought to the site quickly by truck or helicopter and made operational should the on-site emergency generators be disabled.)

c) Is our training and drilling for these loss of power scenarios adequate?

In sum, at Indian Point we have numerous redundant safety systems for dealing with the loss of off-site power as experienced in Japan. We are committed to fully understanding the events at Fukushima and applying those lessons to further improve the safety of our facilities. As one of America's leading nuclear operators, Entergy and its employees are dedicated to the continued safe operation of our plants. We remain committed to public safety, first and foremost, while providing Indian Point's clean and much needed electricity to New York.

Sincerely,

J. Wayne Leonard signature

J. Wayne Leonard,
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Entergy Corporation

For additional information, please visit our special section, Updated Information on Indian Point's Ongoing Preparedness.

 

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