Lurking on the east bank of the Hudson River, the frail Indian Point nuclear plant has made headlines before due to its faulty emergency cooling system that was deemed “…certain to fail” by nuclear engineers. According to engineers, the head company Entergy has known about its mechanical issues and lackluster nuclear meltdown plan for over 6 years and has continued to talk down its controversial meltdown scenarios, as well as its supposed repairs on their cooling system.
Entergy and the NRC both downplayed the meltdown scenario and defended the leisurely pace of the planned repairs. Entergy says that there’s no rush to fix the problems with the emergency system because a breakdown isn’t likely in the first place. But that’s flirting with almost certain disaster. Entergy and the NRC are staking the lives of millions on odds of a single water pipe not breaking under pressure. The problem is that these very kinds of pipes have corroded and been breached at other nuclear plants, which featured similar pressurized water design.
With below-average design and increasing fragility, the Indian Point nuclear power plant has pressured Entergy into meltdown scenario tests which gave workers 14 to 20 minutes to evacuate if the workers followed Entergy’s proposed plan in case of emergency; “The cooling water in these pipes is kept at a pressure of 2,200 pounds per square inch. If a pipe breaks, the 500-degree water would blow off as steam, tearing off plant insulation and coatings. The escaped water will pour into the plant’s basement, where sump pumps are meant to draw the water back into the reactor core. But the Los Alamos tests showed that the cooling water would collect debris along the way that will clog up the mesh screens on the pipes leading back into the reactor. If this happens, the cooling of the reactor fuel would stop, the radioactive core would start to melt, and the plant will belch a radioactive plume that will threaten millions downwind.
Entergy’s security tests against potential terrorist attacks have also been overlooked by many, as it was recently discovered that their “surprise attack scenarios” were planned months in advance, leaving many to scrutinize the actual security of the most dangerous nuclear plant in America and its secretive owners. With millions of people downwind from the Indian Point nuclear plant in combination with the nuclear crisis in Japan, nuclear safety has been at an all-time high and companies still turn a blind eye.
Title: Inside America’s Most Dangerous Nuclear Plant
Author: Jeffrey St. Clair
Source: Counterpunch.org, 3/24/11
Student Researcher: Taylor Falbisaner, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University