Here is a summary of some of the behind-the-scenes work that has been going on. Our strongest asset is an informed public. I have tried to be concise about what is a complicated issue. I hope that this is useful and that you will continue to do what you can to close the reactors at Indian Point. Please feel free to use this information in any way that is useful. Now is the best time to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper! We also need funds to carry on. Details are below, but please think about your involvement and what you can do.
Co-Founder, Westchester Citizens Awareness Network
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The final battle has been joined. When Entergy applied to relicense the reactors at Indian Point, they initiated a complicated three-year process dictated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Forty-eight other nuclear plants across the country have already gone through the same procedure; 11 others are pending. So far, all have been approved; for most the NRC did not even go through the more rigorous evaluation in the hearing stage. If you think this approval rating indicates that the process is skewed in favor of industry, you are correct.
The only way to trigger a hearing is by filing contentions.Contentions list reasons the NRC should deny the plant a license to continue to operate. Under NRC regulations, concerns about theevacuation plan, population density, high-level radioactive waste and terrorism are not considered topics for contentions. Likewise, radioactive water leaking into the Hudson is not on the agenda because “it has already been entered into the company's corrective action program.” Only two categories for complaints are allowed under current rules: Environmental Concerns and Aging Equipment.
WestCAN filed contentions as did other environmental organizations and grassroots organizations. Even better, so did the Attorney General of the State of New York and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. WestCAN submitted many contentions, perhaps the strongest being the one on Fire Safety. Susan Shapiro has been the driving force behind these contentions. She and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky will act as our pro bono lawyers as the hearing progresses. Our expert witness is Ulrich Witte. His knowledge and familiarity with relicensing gave us a strong set of contentions. Ulrich is not pro bono and we need to pay him for his time and knowledge.
In the beginning, the NRC invited everyone to participate in the process. However it has turned out to be an extremely expensive, time consuming and stressful legal procedure. Submitting contentions was an extraordinary amount of work and expense crammed into a very short deadline. Thanks to the fundraiser by Pete Seeger, Ani DeFranco and others, Ulrich has been paid to date, but his testimony will be required to support the WestCAN contentions.
During the initial proceedings it seemed like NRC lawyers were acting as co-counsel with Entergy to find reasons to strike our contentions and keep them for going to a hearing. On one occasion we were required to resubmit seven copies of a thousand pages of testimony because the page number for one exhibit was slightly off. So far our contentions have survived and we will be allowed to appear before the Atomic Safety Licensing Board.
Those who have filed contentions are invited to appear before the board on March 10th as the first step in the process. The meeting is open to the public but only those who have submitted contentions can speak. It would be meaningful to have community support. If you are free during the day, please hold the date. Details and directions will be posted shortly.
Whatever contentions are left standing after the initial arguments will go to the hearing next summer. After the hearing, an appeal is possible to the Chairman of the NRC. It is not hard to predict the outcome of his decision. After that, appeals go to the Appellate Court. Expect a court case at the end of the appeals process no matter what the decision is. It is clear that it will take an act of Congress before for this flawed process can address public health and safety. Here's what you can do.
Donate money to WestCAN! We need to continue to pay our expert witness Ulrich Witte. Copying costs are enormous. The last bill was $800. We are a 501c3 non-profit organization and your donation is tax deductible. Make your check out to WestCAN and mail it to 2A Adrian Court, Cortlandt Manor, NY, 10567.
We really need a volunteer to help us set up a site for on line donations. Contact Marilyn if you can work on this.
Pick up the phone and talk to your local elected officials and Federal representatives to express your concerns. Keep this issue on the front burner.
Write a letter to Gov. Spitzer. If you voted for him because of his stance on Indian Point, tell him so. Make sure he understands your pressing need to see the plant closed.
Arrange a meeting and call Westchester Citizens Awareness Network for a speaker. One of the most pressing questions to address is "How do we replace the energy that is generated at Indian Point?" This question can be answered.
For more information call 914-954-6739 or email ElieWestCAN@gmail.com
Marilyn Elie, Margo Schepart and Mark Jacobs
are co- founders of Westchester Citizens Awareness Network,
a grassroots group that has opposed the plant for over a decade.
WestCAN is a member of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition