State Legislation Would Require Indian Point to Notify Public of Radioactive Emissions; Establish 24-Hour Hotline

April 28, 2008

New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahan (R-C-I-WF), a member of the New York State Senate Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs Committee, who represents Rockland and parts of Orange County, today joined with Assemblywoman Sandy R.Galef (D-I-WF ), who represents parts of Westchester and Putnam Counties to announce legislation (S.7308, A.10051) requiring the operator of the Indian Point Energy Center to fully inform the public and key officials of any radioactive emissions, as well as to establish and maintain a toll-free telephone number to provide 24-hour updates on unplanned, unscheduled and/or inadvertent releases of radioactive materials to the environment.

Their announcement coincides with a public meeting being held today in Cortlandt, in which the public will have the opportunity to offer opinions and suggestions to a panel of experts looking into safety at Indian Point. The panel was commissioned by the owners of Indian Point, to conduct an independent safety evaluation of the nuclear plant.

“Experts and advocates have provided Assemblywoman Galef and my staff with data showing that nuclear power plants routinely release radioactive materials to the environment. These radioactive materials are generally released in a controlled manner and within the limits established by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But some of these releases have been unplanned, unscheduled and inadvertent. On occasion, they exceed technical specification limits. Radiation at any dose level has a finite risk. Therefore the public welfare of residents impacted by the Indian Point nuclear facility would be significantly improved if the public were fully informed of any radioactive emissions to the environment,” said Senator Morahan.

“The safety of the Indian Point Energy Facility is of paramount importance to the twenty million citizens who live in its vicinity,” said Assemblywoman Galef, “and the functioning of Indian Point is especially significant to those citizens residing in my district where the plant is located. I have introduced this legislation because it is critical that the public feel as safe and secure as possible. This bill would provide public access to comprehensive information about the radioactive emission levels, helping ensure operator accountability and allaying safety concerns. The state of Maine currently maintains a toll-free telephone number that provides 24-hour updates on its nuclear power plant. It is time for Indian Point to do the same.”

The legislative requirements for public notice include the following:

  • Notice of emissions would be made available to the public via a toll-free telephone number; to the commissioner of health; to the chief executive officer of the county in which the plant is located; and to the chief executive officer of the city, town or village where Indian Point is located
  • Public notice would be required at least 24 hours before scheduled releases, and as soon as possible, but not more than 24 hours, after unscheduled releases, breakdowns or malfunctions
  • Public notices would contain the total amount of radioactivity released; the estimated individual dose that may occur due to the release; weather conditions at the time of the release; the area affected; the equipment that malfunctioned, if any; and the corrective actions taken
  • The operator of Indian Point shall submit an annual report to the public utilities commission and the New York State Library including the following information
  • Any safety-related incidents reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the previous year, including a statement of the cause of the incident, its effects on human health and the environment, corrective measures taken and cost.

This legislation would improve the public's access to full information about the operation of the Indian Point Energy Center and thereby help to ensure operator accountability and allay public concerns for safety. The state of Maine currently maintains a toll-free telephone number that provides 24-hour updates on their nuclear power plant.