Changing Hands Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

BY BRIAN PJ CRONIN

DECEMBER 21, 2019

Riverkeeper objects to potential transfer

Last month, the energy company filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to transfer its licenses to operate Indian Point to Holtec International after the shutdown of the last reactor at the nuclear plant, which is scheduled for April 2021.

Holtec would then begin mothballing the facility, using a $2.1 billion decommissioning fund that has been accumulated by Entergy during the life of the plant. Holtec also has said it would hire about 300 Indian Point workers.

“Entergy is in the power-generation business, and decommissioning is a line of work that we’re not involved in,” said Jerry Nappi, an Entergy representative. “Holtec specializes in the management of used fuel and its affiliates have special expertise in decommissioning. They can decommission the plant decades sooner than Entergy would be able to.”

Entergy’s original plan had been to take 60 years, the maximum time allowed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Holtec plans to do it in 15. (Holtec did not respond to a request for comment for this story.)

The accelerated timeline doesn’t concern Richard Webster, the legal director for Riverkeeper, the Ossining-based environmental group. Many decommissioning projects start with a process called SAFSTOR, in which the plant is monitored for up to 45 years to give the radioactive materials time to decay and lower the amount of hazardous material. By skipping SAFSTOR, “15 years is a reasonable amount of time to do it,” said Webster.

Nevertheless, Riverkeeper has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (or, failing that, Gov. Andrew Cuomo) to deny the transfer to Holtec.

“Our objections can be summed up as: Bribes, lies, poor safety record and under-capitalization,” said Webster.

Holtec is no stranger to controversy. In 2010, the inspector general for the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal agency, found that Holtec had funneled $54,000 to a TVA manager to secure contracts. The firm was fined $2 million and barred from federal contracts for 60 days.

In Ohio, Holtec was awarded tax credits following a 2009 promise to bring 200 jobs to its facility in Orrville. But the jobs never appeared — in fact, the plant lost four positions — and the tax credits were rescinded.

Then, when applying for tax breaks in New Jersey in order to bring a facility to Camden, the company claimed that it had never been barred from working with federal agencies. To push New Jersey to grant the tax breaks, Holtec said Ohio and South Carolina had made generous counterproposals, an assertion both states denied.

Last year, a contractor at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California, where Holtec has been contracted to manage spent fuel, brought to light an apparent near accident involving a dry cask filled with radioactive fuel. (Plant officials said there was never any danger to the public.) The worker also alleged the site was understaffed and its supervisors often replaced with less experienced managers.

Finally, on the financial side, Webster said he was alarmed at Holtec’s decision at the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey, which has been decommissioning for less than a year, to transfer money from the decommissioning fund to spent fuel management, a move that Holtec has signaled it would also do at Indian Point.

“That’s not what that fund is for,” he said. “And there’s a complicated set of LLCs [limited-liability corporations] designed to shield Holtec International, the core corporation. We just don’t have much information about the financial viability [of the company]. If you were running a huge international business that was making money, you shouldn’t be so desperate to get tax breaks that you have to lie on a form.”

At Entergy, Nappi said that Holtec’s recent approvals from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission show that the issues raised aren’t of concern. “The NRC has approved the transactions for two previous nuclear power plants to Holtec, and that only happens if a company can demonstrate that it has the technical and financial qualifications needed,” he said. “We feel confident that Indian Point will receive approval.”

If that happens, Webster said he hoped that it would at least come with certain conditions, such as the creation of a citizens’ oversight committee with the power to (1) audit the decommissioning fund, (2) subpoena documents, (3) have specialists look at difficult situations, and (4) transfer questions of safety to the NRC.

At the least, Webster said, Holtec should not be allowed to keep anything that remains in the decommissioning fund at the end of the project, as it might encourage the firm to do the job as cheaply as possible at the expense of safety and other concerns.

Indian Point is NOT radiologically ready for the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

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With Indian Point, are you radiologically ready?

By Thomas Slater Emergency Preparedness Coordinator

August 23rd, 2018 | NewsNews and Features

Just as there are plans in place for dealing with natural emergencies such as tropical and winter storms, readiness plans are developed for man-made emergencies, which includes radiological hazards.

Nuclear power plants operate in most states in the country and produce about 20 percent of the nation’s power.

Nearly three million people live within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone of an operating nuclear power plant, including West Point, which is situated between 7-to-9 miles from the Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) in Buchanan of Westchester County.

Although the construction and operation of nuclear power plants are closely monitored and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, incidents at these plants are possible—and planned for.

If an accident at IPEC were to result in the potential or actual release of radiation, warning sirens in the area would be activated. Commercial and West Point media sources would broadcast Emergency Alert System  messages to advise you on protective measures.

Depending upon the scope and scale of the emergency, protective actions may include “shelter-in-place” or “evacuation” advisories. As radioactive materials rapidly decay and dissipate with distance, the most likely scenario for West Point personnel would be to take shelter rather than trying to evacuate.

If you are instructed to shelter-in-place, the following steps will keep you and your family safe during the emergency.

• Shelter. Go inside your home or the nearest building; choose an inside room with as few windows or doors as possible.

• Shut. Shut and lock all windows and doors to create a better seal; turn off heating or cooling ventilation systems. If at home, make sure the fireplace damper and all ventilation fans are closed.

• Listen. Local officials are your best source of information. If in an office, monitor your computer, television and phones; if at home, listen to your radio or television until you are told it is safe to leave the shelter or to evacuate.

For more details, consult the Orange County Indian Point Emergency Guide, available at https://www.orangecountygov.com/DocumentCenter/View/2368/Indian-Point-Orange-Emergency-Guide-PDF, or call the West Point Emergency Manager at 845-938-7092.

Readiness, through education and preparation, is the best defense. Are you radiological ready?

History Says Expect The Sixth Seal In New York (Revelation 6:12)

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According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.

A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)

The Terrible Risk Before the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

Credit…Yana Paskova for The New York Times

BUCHANAN, N.Y. — Every so often, catastrophes prompt fresh worries about the Indian Point nuclear power plant, whose twin domes loom over the Hudson River about 45 miles north of Midtown Manhattan.

In 2001, the terror attacks on Sept. 11 spurred calls to shut down the two reactors here, amid concern of a similar attack on the plant. Five years ago, the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan raised fears about the impact of a natural disaster on Indian Point.

Now, a construction project — the planned expansion of a natural gas pipeline across Indian Point property — is again putting the power plant in a harsh glare. Elected officials, residents and environmental activists have criticized the project, saying that a rupture of the pipeline could unleash a nuclear catastrophe.

Federal regulators have already approved the pipeline expansion, and Spectra Energy, the company overseeing the pipeline project, has begun construction along parts of its 1,000-mile line running through New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In Westchester County, work has begun on the pipeline, including at the 240-acre Indian Point site, where Spectra plans to replace its existing 26-inch wide pipeline with one measuring 42 inches wide.

In recent months, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, both New York Democrats, as well as other federal, state and local officials, have demanded an independent safety evaluation of the risks posed by the pipeline expansion at Indian Point. The project’s approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was based in part on an analysis conducted by Entergy Corporation, which owns the power plant, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which determined that the plant could continue to operate safely in the event of a rupture or could be temporarily shut down.

On Monday, the state plans to notify the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it will take a hard look at the project in light of a series of problems at the nuclear plant since last May. In addition, the state will ask federal regulators to suspend their approval of the project — effectively halting construction — until the study is completed.

“I am directing my administration to commence an immediate independent safety analysis of the natural gas pipeline project,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, said. “The safety of New Yorkers is the first responsibility of state government when making any decision.”

ImageElected officials and environmental activists have criticized the expansion of a natural gas pipeline across Indian Point property.
Credit…Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency

So far, federal agencies have declined to conduct independent assessments of their own. Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said a specialist within the agency had looked carefully at hypothetical accidents. “Our expert confirmed that both units could safely shut down, even if the pipeline were to rupture and a blast of flame were to come from that line,” he said.

But the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group, has asked Stephen G. Burns, the regulatory commission’s chairman, to evaluate the methodology used by its own staff. “It is not sufficient to have the right answers until all the right questions have been asked,” David A. Lochbaum, director of the group’s Nuclear Safety Project, wrote in a letter in August. Mr. Burns declined the organization’s request.

Officials from both Spectra Energy and Entergy, which will receive a one-time payment for use of the right of way on its land, say that the new pipeline will be located several hundred feet farther away from the nuclear reactors than the smaller, existing pipeline. Jerry Nappi, a spokesman for Entergy, said the new pipeline would cross the southeast corner of its property, about 1,200 feet from the Unit 3 reactor.

In addition, he said, the larger pipeline would be buried deeper than the existing one and would be covered by thick concrete slabs.

Environmental activists from New York City and Westchester County are not mollified by those precautions. Since Spectra was given the go-ahead to proceed with construction, they have gathered 30,000 signatures on a petition demanding that Mr. Cuomo stop the project and study the risks.

Mr. Cuomo has been vociferous in his demand that federal regulators not relicense Indian Point. (The reactors’ licenses expired in 2013 and 2015, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now considering their renewal.) But until now, Mr. Cuomo has been largely silent about the pipeline.

Spectra, based in Texas, is expanding sections of its so-called Algonquin Pipeline in several states to increase delivery of natural gas to meet what the company says is growing demand in New England. Besides safety concerns, critics of the pipeline also say that enhancing the delivery of fossil fuels like natural gas will hurt efforts to counter climate change.

The Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, last fall released an energy report of the region. “This study demonstrates that we do not need increased gas capacity to meet electric reliability needs and that electric ratepayers shouldn’t foot the bill for additional pipelines,” she said, adding that increasing energy efficiency would “significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Credit…Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Problems have bedeviled Indian Point for years, sometimes leading to the temporary shutdown of its reactors. In May, a transformer fire knocked out one of the reactors and spewed oil and fire-retardant foam into the Hudson. This month, Entergy revealed that radioactive water was found in three of 40 monitoring wells on site, the result of contamination from tritium, a radioactive isotope.

In recent months, activists have turned up the intensity of their protests against the pipeline expansion. Members of faith organizations and environmental groups held a vigil on Saturday outside the house in Mount Kisco, N.Y., that Mr. Cuomo shares with his girlfriend, Sandra Lee. Their home is less than 10 miles from Indian Point.

Activists have also held rallies and engaged in acts of civil disobedience. In November, nine people joined hands and blocked a road near a site where some of Spectra Energy’s construction equipment and vehicles were stored in Montrose, a hamlet in the town of Cortlandt, not far from Indian Point.

The activists were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. The defendants, who call themselves the Montrose Nine, are awaiting trial. “They felt it was their obligation to stop the construction of what they believe is an extraordinarily dangerous venture,” Martin R. Stolar, their lawyer, said.

A group called ResistAIM, which stands for the Algonquin Incremental Market project, as Spectra calls the expansion, has organized periodic workshops on the ABC’s of civil disobedience.

“We organize nonviolent direct action to stop the AIM pipeline from being built,” its website says. “We do this because it is clear that we have no other alternative — we have tried everything to get the attention of elected officials and to use regulatory channels, and Spectra is building the pipeline anyway.”

Patrick Robbins, co-director of Sane Energy Project, which advocates renewable energy, also works with ResistAIM. He contends that continued resistance to the pipeline project, despite the fact that it has the needed approvals, was not fruitless. Indeed, he and others are focused on the larger war against fossil fuels, more than any one battle.

“Every day you stop construction, it hurts their timetable,” he said, referring to Spectra Energy. “And it sends a message to other companies, investors and political officials that the landscape has changed on building these pipelines, and that it’s not going to be an easy fight for them.”

The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news/2004/images/ramapo_factsheet_img_0.gif

Living on the Fault Line

Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo

The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.

After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.

Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.

During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.

“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”

Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.

Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.

After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.

Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.

Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.

The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.

For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.

Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”

The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.

This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”

Gates does not think that’s the case, and he has been working with colleagues for a number of years to prove it. “What we have found is that there are smaller faults that generally cut from east to west across the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault,” he explains. “These much smaller faults are all over the place, and they’re actually the ones that are the active faults in the area.”

But what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of these apparently active auxiliary faults? One such mechanism, say scientists, is the westward pressure the Atlantic Ocean exerts on the North American Plate, which for the most part resists any movement. “I think we are in an equilibrium state most of the time,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim.

Still, that continuous pressure on the plate we sit on causes stress, and when that stress builds up sufficiently, the earth’s crust has a tendency to break around any weak zones. In our area, the major weak zone is the Ramapo Fault—“an ancient zone of weakness,” as Kim calls it. That zone of weakness exacerbates the formation of auxiliary faults, and thereby the series of minor earthquakes the state has experienced over the years.

All this presupposes, of course, that any intraplate stress in this area will continue to be released gradually, in a series of relatively minor earthquakes or releases of energy. But what if that were not the case? What if the stress continued to build up, and the release of large amounts of energy came all at once? In crude terms, that’s part of the story behind the giant earthquakes that rocked what is now New Madrid, Missouri, between 1811 and 1812. Although estimates of their magnitude have been revised downward in recent years to less than magnitude 8, these earthquakes are generally regarded as among the largest intraplate events to have occurred in the continental United States.

For a number of reasons—including the relatively low odds that the kind of stored energy that unleashed the New Madrid events could ever build up here—earthquakes of plus-6 magnitude are probably not in our future. Still, says Kim, even a magnitude 6 earthquake in certain areas of the state could do considerable damage, especially if its intensity or ground shaking was of sufficient strength. In a state as geologically diverse and densely populated as New Jersey, this is a crucial wild card.

Part of the job of the experts at the New Jersey Geological Survey is to assess the seismic hazards in different parts of the state. To do this, they use a computer-simulation model developed under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as HAZUS, for Hazards US. To assess the amount of ground shaking likely to occur in a given county during events ranging in magnitude from 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, NJGS scientists enter three features of a county’s surface geology into their computer model. Two of these features relate to the tendency of soil in a given area to lose strength, liquefy, or slide downhill when shaken. The third and most crucial feature has to do with the depth and density of the soil itself and the type of bedrock lying below it; this is a key component in determining a region’s susceptibility to ground shaking and, therefore, in estimating the amount of building and structural damage that’s likely to occur in that region. Estimates for the various counties—nine to date have been studied—are sent to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which provided partial funding for the project.

To appreciate why this element of ground geology is so crucial to earthquake modelers, consider the following: An earthquake’s intensity—which is measured on something called the Modified Mercalli Scale—is related to a number of factors. The amount of energy released or the magnitude of an event is clearly a big factor. But two earthquakes of the same magnitude can have very different levels of intensity; in fact, it’s quite possible for a lower magnitude event to generate more ground shaking than a higher magnitude one.

In addition to magnitude, other factors that affect intensity are the distance of the observer or structure from the epicenter, where intensity is the greatest; the depth beneath the surface of the initial rupture, with shallower ruptures producing more ground shaking than deeper ones; and, most significantly, the ground geology or material that the shock wave generated by the earthquake must pass through.

As a rule, softer materials like sand and gravel shake much more intensely than harder materials, because the softer materials are comparatively inefficient energy conductors, so whatever energy is released by the quake tends to be trapped, dispersing much more slowly. (Think of a bowl of Jell-O on a table that’s shaking.)

In contrast, harder materials, like the solid rock found widely in the Highlands, are brittle and break under pressure, but conduct energy well, so that even big shock waves disperse much more rapidly through them, thereby weakening the amount of ground shaking. “If you’ve read any stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, you know the most intense damage was in those flat, low areas by the Bay, where the soil is soft, and not in the hilly, rocky areas above,” says Karl Muessig, state geologist and NJGS head.

The map that accompanies the online version of the NJGS’s Earthquake Loss Estimation Study divides the state’s surface geology into five seismic soil classes, ranging from Class A, or hard rock, to Class E, or soft soil (state.nj.us/dep/njgs/enviroed/hazus.htm).

Although the weakest soils are scattered throughout the state, including the Highlands, which besides harder rock also contains areas of glacial lakes, clays, and wetlands, they are most evident in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. “The largest expanses of them are in coastal areas where you have salt marshes or large glacial lakes, as in parts of the Passaic River basin,” says Scott Stanford, a research scientist with NJGS and lead author of the estimate. Some of the very weakest soils, Stanford adds, are in areas of filled marshland, including places along the Hudson waterfront, around Newark Bay and the Meadowlands, and along the Arthur Kill.

Faults in these areas—and in the coastal plain generally—are far below the ground, perhaps several hundred to a thousand feet down, making identification difficult. “There are numerous faults upon which you might get earthquake movement that we can’t see, because they’re covered by younger sediments,” Stanford says.

This combination of hidden faults and weak soils worries scientists, who are all too aware that parts of the coastal plain and Piedmont are among the most densely populated and developed areas in the state. (The HAZUS computer model also has a “built environment” component, which summarizes, among other things, types of buildings in a given area.) For this reason, such areas would be in the most jeopardy in the event of a large earthquake.

For example, in the study’s loss estimate for Essex County, which includes Newark, the state’s largest city, a magnitude 6 event would result in damage to 81,600 buildings, including almost 10,000 extensively or completely; 36,000 people either displaced from their homes or forced to seek short-term shelter; almost $9 million in economic losses from property damage and business interruption; and close to 3,300 injuries and 50 fatalities. (The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation has conducted a similar assessment for New York City, at nycem.org.)

All of this suggests the central irony of New Jersey geology: The upland areas that are most prone to earthquakes—the counties in or around the Ramapo Fault, which has spawned a network of splays, or auxiliary faults—are much less densely populated and sit, for the most part, on good bedrock. These areas are not invulnerable, certainly, but, by almost all measures, they would not sustain very severe damage, even in the event of a higher magnitude earthquake. The same can’t be said for other parts of the state, where the earthquake hazard is lower but the vulnerability far greater. Here, the best we can do is to prepare—both in terms of better building codes and a constantly improving emergency response.

Meanwhile, scientists like Rutgers’s Gates struggle to understand the Earth’s quirky seismic timetable: “The big thing with earthquakes is that you can commonly predict where they are going to occur,” Gates says. “When they’re going to come, well, we’re nowhere near being able to figure that out.”

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For the men and women of the state police who manage and support the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the response to some events, like hurricanes, can be marshalled in advance. But an earthquake is what responders call a no-notice event.

In New Jersey, even minor earthquakes—like the one that shook parts of Somerset County in February—attract the notice of local, county, and OEM officials, who continuously monitor events around the state from their Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (The ROIC) in West Trenton, a multimillion dollar command-and-control facility that has been built to withstand 125 mph winds and a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. In the event of a very large earthquake, during which local and county resources are apt to become quickly overwhelmed, command and control authority would almost instantly pass to West Trenton.

Here, officials from the state police, representatives of a galaxy of other state agencies, and a variety of communications and other experts would assemble in the cavernous and ultra-high tech Emergency Operations Center to oversee the state’s response. “A high-level earthquake would definitely cause the governor to declare a state of emergency,” says OEM public information officer Nicholas J. Morici. “And once that takes place, our emergency operations plan would be put in motion.”

Emergency officials have modeled that plan—one that can be adapted to any no-notice event, including a terrorist attack—on response methodologies developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At its core is a series of seventeen emergency support functions, ranging from transportation to firefighting, debris removal, search and rescue, public health, and medical services. A high-magnitude event would likely activate all of these functions, says Morici, along with the human and physical resources needed to carry them out—cranes and heavy trucks for debris removal, fire trucks and teams for firefighting, doctors and EMTs for medical services, buses and personnel carriers for transportation, and so on.

This is where an expert like Tom Rafferty comes in. Rafferty is a Geographic Information Systems Specialist attached to the OEM. His job during an emergency is to keep track electronically of which resources are where in the state, so they can be deployed quickly to where they are needed. “We have a massive database called the Resource Directory Database in which we have geolocated municipal, county, and state assets to a very detailed map of New Jersey,” Rafferty says. “That way, if there is an emergency like an earthquake going on in one area, the emergency managers can quickly say to me, for instance, ‘We have major debris and damage on this spot of the map. Show us the location of the nearest heavy hauler. Show us the next closest location,’ and so on.”

A very large quake, Rafferty says, “could overwhelm resources that we have as a state.” In that event, OEM has the authority to reach out to FEMA for additional resources and assistance. It can also call upon the private sector—the Resource Directory has been expanded to include non-government assets—and to a network of volunteers. “No one has ever said, ‘We don’t want to help,’” Rafferty says. New Jersey officials can also request assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement among the states to help each other in times of extreme crisis.

“You always plan for the worst,” Rafferty says, “and that way when the worst doesn’t happen, you feel you can handle it if and when it does.”

Contributing editor Wayne J. Guglielmo lives in Mahwah, near the Ramapo Fault.

Indian Point’s Unit 2 reactor shuts off but NOT Unit 3

Indian Point’s Unit 2 reactor under construction in 1968.

Photo courtesy of Entergy

Indian Point’s Unit 2 reactor shuts off after nearly 46 years generating power

In recent weeks, climate scientists like James Hansen decried the reactor’s shutdown, saying it was a mistake to eliminate a source of clean energy from the state’s power grid. Hansen and others predict that natural gas will fill the energy gap left when Indian Point shuts down next year.

“Many people will die because of the stupidity of this action, in which a nuclear power plant is closed before all fossil fuel power plants have been closed,” Hansen told The Journal News/lohud.com two weeks ago.

Entergy cited reduced revenues linked to the cheap price of natural gas as a major factor in its decision to close the plant.

On Friday morning, natural gas and dual fuel — natural gas or other fossil fuels — were contributing about 31%of the state’s energy needs. Hydropower coming from upstate New York near Niagara  Falls was contributing 33%, while renewables like wind and solar power were a little over 4%.

The Cuomo administration wants the state to rely on renewables for 70% of its energy needs in 10 years.

Indian Point is NOT radiologically ready for the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

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With Indian Point, are you radiologically ready?

By Thomas Slater Emergency Preparedness Coordinator

August 23rd, 2018 | NewsNews and Features

Just as there are plans in place for dealing with natural emergencies such as tropical and winter storms, readiness plans are developed for man-made emergencies, which includes radiological hazards.

Nuclear power plants operate in most states in the country and produce about 20 percent of the nation’s power.

Nearly three million people live within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone of an operating nuclear power plant, including West Point, which is situated between 7-to-9 miles from the Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) in Buchanan of Westchester County.

Although the construction and operation of nuclear power plants are closely monitored and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, incidents at these plants are possible—and planned for.

If an accident at IPEC were to result in the potential or actual release of radiation, warning sirens in the area would be activated. Commercial and West Point media sources would broadcast Emergency Alert System  messages to advise you on protective measures.

Depending upon the scope and scale of the emergency, protective actions may include “shelter-in-place” or “evacuation” advisories. As radioactive materials rapidly decay and dissipate with distance, the most likely scenario for West Point personnel would be to take shelter rather than trying to evacuate.

If you are instructed to shelter-in-place, the following steps will keep you and your family safe during the emergency.

• Shelter. Go inside your home or the nearest building; choose an inside room with as few windows or doors as possible.

• Shut. Shut and lock all windows and doors to create a better seal; turn off heating or cooling ventilation systems. If at home, make sure the fireplace damper and all ventilation fans are closed.

• Listen. Local officials are your best source of information. If in an office, monitor your computer, television and phones; if at home, listen to your radio or television until you are told it is safe to leave the shelter or to evacuate.

For more details, consult the Orange County Indian Point Emergency Guide, available at https://www.orangecountygov.com/DocumentCenter/View/2368/Indian-Point-Orange-Emergency-Guide-PDF, or call the West Point Emergency Manager at 845-938-7092.

Readiness, through education and preparation, is the best defense. Are you radiological ready?

Indian Point closes but not before the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

Indian Point closes

By MARIE J. FRENCH, SAMANTHA MALDONADO and MARCUS NAVARRO

04/30/2020 10:00 AM EDT

— Opponents of Indian Point’s scheduled shutdown today hold a Zoom protest starting at 2 p.m. The mayor of the village of Buchanan is scheduled to speak, according to organizers.

— While natural gas is likely to fill in the gap left by the plant’s closure in the short run, environmentalists supporting the closure and policymakers point to a regional cap on emissions from the power sector as evidence that overall carbon pollution will continue a downward trajectory.

— Parks in New Jersey will reopen, Gov. Phil Murhpy announced.

The Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y. | AP Photo

NUKE NO MORE — POLITICO’s Marie J. French: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s quest to shutter Indian Point will enter the final stages as an operator at one of the nuclear plant’s units flips a switch Thursday. Under an agreement reached with Cuomo, Entergy is scheduled to shut down one of its 1,000 megawatt reactors at 11 p.m. The move will reduce the amount of zero-emissions power consumed in downstate New York and increase demand for gas-fired plants in the short run. Most environmental advocates have hailed the closure as a victory — and have for years raised safety concerns and issues with the plant’s impact on the Hudson River, They say it will not ultimately impede achievement of the state’s ambitious renewable energy goals, arguing new fossil fuel plants are not “needed” to replace the nuclear plant.

NJ PARKS TO REOPEN — POLITICO’s Sam Sutton: Democratic and Republican lawmakers in New Jersey are taking credit after Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Wednesday that will allow parks and golf courses to reopen in time for Saturday morning tee times. But Murphy said his decision to reverse his April 7 order to shut down state and county parks had little to do with the three weeks of pleading and cajoling that’s gone on publicly and behind the scenes. … Murphy said he decided to reopen parks and golf courses only after similar actions were taken in Pennsylvania and New York, thereby ensuring New Jersey’s facilities wouldn’t be inundated by out-of-staters.

— Following Murphy’s announcement, the New Jersey Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch and League of Conservation Voters — issued statements praising the move to re-open state and county parks and forests. (Note: New York never closed its state parks, but did briefly close golf courses.)

RGGI REGS OUT — Bloomberg’s Keshia Clukey: “New York state plans to lower its cap on carbon dioxide emissions by about 1.4 million tons in 2021, and by nearly 1 million tons annually through 2030, according to a proposal published Wednesday. ‘The RGGI program demonstrates how states can work together to respond to the climate crisis in a way that advances our economies,’ DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a news release. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state DEC won’t host a public hearing on its proposal, but will accept public comments through June 29.”

— Environmental advocates praised the DEC’s extension of the RGGI rules to small peaker plants that had previously been left out of the cap.

POLITICO Pro is here to help you navigate these unprecedented times. Check out our new Covid-19 Coverage Roundup, which provides a daily summary of top Covid-19 news coverage from across all 16 federal policy verticals as well as premium content, such as DataPoint graphics. Please sign up at our settings page to receive this unique roundup sent directly to your inbox every weekday afternoon.

Around New York

— Tesla’s solar energy business took a step backward to start the year, with installations dropping as the coronavirus outbreak started to spread through the economy.

— OPINION: State Sen. Todd Kaminsky says New York should begin reopening its economy with green projects.

— The South Fork offshore wind farm will “very likely” be delayed beyond its planned 2022 completion date, according to a top official for project developer Orsted, who cited a “prolonged” federal review of U.S. wind projects and the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Cleaning product manufacturers say the Covid-19 crisis should prompt New York state to delay by one year its ban on all but trace concentrations of 1,4-dioxane in their products.

— The New York Power Authority returns to the market after a multi-year absence, with a $1.1 billion bond offering including its first-ever green bonds.

— BLOG: Andrew Ratzkin, an energy sector lawyer and member of the Westchester County Climate Smart Communities Task Force, advocates for a carbon tax.

— Manhattan residents are using up to 25 percent more energy during the day amid the coronavirus lockdown.

— Flooding along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario may not be as bad as feared. Regulators of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River say water levels this year are expected to peak “well below” the record-highs of 2017 and 2019.

— The Cohoes Common Council unanimously approved a one-year moratorium Tuesday night on the burning of firefighting foam with potentially hazardous PFAS compounds, effectively preventing Norlite from restarting the incineration process that it used to fuel part of its operations.

— Rockland County parks, which were closed April 7 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, are readying to reopen, County Executive Ed Day announced Wednesday.

— Dairy farmers in upstate New York who faced the wrenching task of dumping their milk earlier this month as the novel coronavirus spread are now confronting a grim future: months of low prices that could squeeze them out of business.

Across the River

— Since the coronavirus, the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority and plants around the country, have seen an increased number of disinfectant wipes, latex gloves, and face masks being flushed down toilets, creating clogs, blockages, and other damage to critical infrastructure.

— State regulators are giving solar installers more time to show that their arrays qualify for Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), if they have not formally completed their applications by the end of April because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Residents of a community destroyed by Superstorm Sandy have won a court victory that will restart their long-delayed plans to rebuild more than eight years after the devastation, according to their attorneys.

The History Of New York Earthquakes: Before The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/normantranscript.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/08/408bdb1d-8734-5959-b892-f359fe1bf6b9/54382834d5e4b.image.jpg

Historic Earthquakes

Near New York City, New York

1884 08 10 19:07 UTC

Magnitude 5.5

Intensity VII

USGS.gov

This severe earthquake affected an area roughly extending along the Atlantic Coast from southern Maine to central Virginia and westward to Cleveland, Ohio. Chimneys were knocked down and walls were cracked in several States, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Many towns from Hartford, Connecticut, to West Chester,Pennsylvania.

Property damage was severe at Amityville and Jamaica, New York, where several chimneys were “overturned” and large cracks formed in walls. Two chimneys were thrown down and bricks were shaken from other chimneys at Stratford (Fairfield County), Conn.; water in the Housatonic River was agitated violently. At Bloomfield, N.J., and Chester, Pa., several chimneys were downed and crockery was broken. Chimneys also were damaged at Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Allentown, Easton, and Philadelphia, Pa. Three shocks occurred, the second of which was most violent. This earthquake also was reported felt in Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Several slight aftershocks were reported on August 11.

Indian Point Shutdown Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Indian Point

Indian Point to Begin Shutdown

 

The Indian Point nuclear power plant near Peekskill (Photo by Mihai Andritoiu)

 

First of two reactors will go offline next week

After decades of production and protests, theIndian Point nuclear power plant will begin to shut down next week with the closure of one of its two remaining reactors.

Reactor No. 2 is scheduled to shut down on Thursday (April 30), with No. 3 to follow in April 2021. The plant was built in 1962; No. 2 went online in 1974 and No. 3 in 1976. (No. 1 was shut down in 1974 because its cooling system did not meet regulatory requirements.)

The scheduled closure was announced three years ago by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Entergy, which owns and operates the plant on the Hudson River near Peekskill.

The question of who will be decommissioning Indian Point to secure its radioactive material is unresolved. Entergy wants to transfer its license to operate the plant to a firm called Holtec International but has met opposition.

Under guidelines established by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), a nuclear plant that closes must be decommissioned within 60 years. Many plants do this through a procedure called SAFSTOR, in whichthe facility is mothballed for 50 years to allow the radioactive material to decay. Holtec wants to begin work immediately to have the plant free of nuclear material within 15 years.

Although Holtec’s finances and some of its business dealings have drawn criticism, the Ossining-based environmental group Riverkeeper said it would like to see a quicker decommissioning process, in part to provide immediate employment for plant workers.

“We want this to be a win for everybody, and we don’t want to see some communities left behind,” said Richard Webster, its legal program director. In the meantime, Riverkeeper has joined forces with other organizations to launch a Beyond Indian Point campaign for renewable energy. Webster said that since the shutdown was announced, a reactor’s worth of renewable energy has come onto the state grid.

Although some level of risk will remain as long as radioactive material is on the site, the risk of an accident will fall significantly when Indian Point is no longer operational, said Richard Chang, a representative for the NRC. “The highest classification of an emergency for a permanently shut-down nuclear power plant would be an ‘alert,’ which is the second-lowest of the four levels of emergency classification used by the NRC,” he said.

Chang said that although the plant will still have emergency procedures after 2021, “changes in reduction and scope will occur.”

What About the Pipeline?

Even with the Indian Point plant closing, there remain concerns about the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline. The 37.6-mile, 42-inch-wide natural gas pipeline, which came online in early 2017 and transports more than 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day, passes through the Indian Point site.

In February, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was told to conduct a new safety review after the agency’s inspector general found that an initial study touting the pipeline’s safety used “backward engineering.” The new report, created with specialists from outside the agency and released on April 8, said that although the first report made “optimistic assumptions,” the pipeline is indeed safe.

The new report says that a rupture in the pipeline is unlikely because it “was installed using modern techniques, stringent quality standards and construction precautions.” Even if a break were to occur, the power plant would remain protected because its safety systems are far from the pipeline, the investigators concluded.

Given that both reactors will be offline in about a year, it said, the risk of a rupture affecting them is “very small,” the report said.

The report drew immediate condemnation from local lawmakers. “An independent risk assessment will provide a modicum of reassurance,” said Sandy Galef, whose state Assembly district includes Philipstown and Indian Point. “It is truly the least we can ask for.”

At Riverkeeper, Richard Webster said that while the risk of a rupture is low, the lack of an independent, peer-reviewed study is troubling. “This is an assurance from an agency that has repeatedly said in the past that something wasn’t a problem, and has then had to backtrack,” he said. “When they say the risk is not excessive, what does that mean? At the moment there’s no review and no clear standard.

“The bottom line is that the AIM Pipeline reduces safety. It’s bound to reduce safety, you can’t put a pressurized pipeline next to a nuclear plant and not reduce safety,” he said. “The question is, does it reduce safety to the point where it’s a problem?”