State Sen. Pete Harckham
May 24, 2020 12:58 pm ET
In a letter sent today to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), New York State Senator Pete Harckham called for the public release of Entergy Corporation’s revised safety analysis of the dangerous high-pressure natural gas pipeline that crosses beneath the three nuclear reactors and highly radioactive fuel storage casks at the Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) in Buchanan, NY. And if the analysis concludes the pipeline is unsafe, Harckham asks that it be shutdown.
In his letter, Harckham commends the NRC’s decision to review the pipeline assessments yet worries that there are still no assurances of the pipeline’s safety. “It is essential,” he writes, “that Entergy’s revised analysis be released for public review so that the public can determine whether the revised analysis redresses the numerous failures listed in the OIG Report and offers an accurate and complete analysis of the actual threat posed to the millions of people who live in this area.”
At issue is the deeply flawed 10 CFR 50.59 risk analysis report submitted in 2014 by Entergy, owner and operator of IPEC, to obtain approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of expansion of the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) gas pipeline underneath the Indian Point property. The NRC needed to first perform an independent assessment of this risk analysis to make sure that Entergy properly reviewed the safety implications of the AIM pipeline, Instead, the NRC simply accepted the misrepresentations and conclusions contained in Entergy’s faulty analysis.
Earlier this year, the NRC’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reported that it discovered the deep flaws and deviations in NRC’s own safety analysis of the pipeline, and directed the NRC to “redo” its analysis and required Entergy to revise its 10 CFR 50.59 assessment.
Among the major problems with Entergy’s original risk analysis was that it assumed that isolation valves would close within three minutes of a pipeline rupture, which the NRC never confirmed. The pipeline’s operator later informed the OIG that it would take six minutes. Also, the NRC safety assessment utilized a model based on aboveground pipelines to gauge how fast the pipeline could be “turned off” in case of an emergency. The NRC later misrepresented the totality of its assessment to an outside investigator.
“The chief responsibility of our government officials, through policy and action, is to safeguard our residents,” concludes Harckham. “We therefore urge NRC to conduct a full independent evaluation of the risks and release Entergy’s revised analysis. Consistent with this redo evaluation, the NRC should determine whether the pipeline poses a threat to the millions of people in the surrounding areas requiring a permanent shut down of the pipeline.”