The Northern Westchester Examiner

Congressman Calls for Shutdown of Indian Point Reactor

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U.S. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D) and Hudson Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay called Monday for the immediate shutdown of Unit 2 at the Indian Point nuclear power facility in Buchanan to analyze the cause of 227 bolts recently having been replaced at the core of the reactor.

Standing outside the entrance of the plant in Buchanan, Maloney maintained the safety risk of the plant to millions of residents within the immediate vicinity of the controversial nuclear plant was too great to take the latest problem lightly.

“This is not something we want to play around with,” Maloney said. “We won’t have a second chance if we don’t get it right. It’s not too much to ask that we have 100% understanding on what happened.”

During its annual hearing in Tarrytown earlier this month, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) declared the Indian Point nuclear power facility was running satisfactorily.

“Overall, Entergy operated the plant safely and within the conditions of their license,” NRC official Glen Dentel said at the hearing, adding recent issues at the plant were of a very low safety significance and had no significant impact on public safety.

However, Gallay stressed there had been seven unplanned shutdowns at Indian Point in the last 12 months, which exceeds the NRC’s threshold of three shutdowns per 7,000 hours of operation.

“Why did Indian Point draw the short straw and have so many failures?” Gallay remarked. “It has the worst safety record for any reactor in the country. This plant needs to be taken off line. As Governor Cuomo said, it’s beyond sanity to keep Indian Point open.”

Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said Unit 2 was shut down on March 7 for refueling. When the plant was closed, 227 degraded bolts, plus an additional 50, were replaced. The plant reopened on June 16.

The bolts hold a series of vertical metal plates in place that aid with the reactor cooling process. Radiation assisted stress-induced cracking is a known and expected occurrence in such units over long periods of time.

“The number of degraded bolts is the largest seen to date in a U.S. nuclear power reactor, so the NRC is closely monitoring this situation,” NRC official Jack McHale said at the hearing.

Gallay criticized Entergy and the NRC’s responses to the seriousness of the bolts.

“It’s a whitewash of a very dangerous situation,” Gallay said. “There was a risk to safety. It’s putting a Bandaid on a (serious) wound.”

Entergy has pushed up the inspection of Unit 3 for such issues from 2019 to this year, but the NRC believes that unit will be less susceptible to such degradation due to the unit’s lower significantly fewer operation hours.

Maloney feels the plant needs to be decommissioned over time and replaced with a less dangerous energy source.

“It’s not a simple or easy issue,” he said.

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