Attorney General, cost of clean-up, dry casks, Entergy, Eric T. Schneiderman, Indian Point Nuclear Power Station, Indian Point ruling, New York, New York City, NRC commission, nuclear accident, nuclear clean-up, nuclear risk, risk assessment, risk evaluation, severe nuclear accident, Spent Nuclear Fuel, spent nuclear fuel pool, US NRC, value of life
Chernobyl exclusion zone size superimposed on Indian Point Nuclear Power Station. Interactive Model from Greenpeace: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/code/2016/chernobyl/index.html
Press release from the New York AG followed by our commentary:
“Media Center » Press Releases » May 4th 2016
A.G. Schneiderman Applauds Major Decision By Federal NRC Commissioners To Require Re-Analysis Of Severe Accident Prevention Measures At Indian Point
Commissioners Of Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission Find Prior Analysis To Be In Violation Of National Environmental Policy Act
Schneiderman: Millions Who Live And Work Near Indian Point Deserve A Fair Assessment Of Upgrades Needed To Protect Them From Severe Accidents
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today applauded a decision by Commissioners of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to require NRC staff to conduct a re-analysis of the impacts caused by severe accidents at the Indian Point nuclear power facility and potential upgrades needed to protect the public against such accidents.
“I am heartened that the NRC Commissioners agreed with my office that Entergy and NRC staff have systematically undercounted the costs and impacts associated with severe reactor accidents at the Indian Point plant,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The Commissioners’ decision requires the NRC staff to do what should have been done years ago: provide an accurate account of cost-effective upgrades at this aging nuclear plant that can prevent or minimize severe accidents. While some might prefer to treat severe accidents as impossibilities, the millions of people who live and work near Indian Point deserve nothing less than a full and fair assessment of the plant upgrades needed to protect them against such accidents.”
In today’s unanimous decision, the Commission reversed an earlier administrative ruling, and found that NRC staff’s analysis of severe accident minimization at the Indian Point facility violates the National Environmental Policy Act. The decision directs NRC staff to redo its analysis, and consider additional severe accident minimization at Indian Point. NRC staff had relied on data from other sites, including sites surrounded by farmland, instead of site-specific data for Indian Point. The ultimate source of the data used by NRC staff could not be found – but the agency went on using the data without substantiation.
In its decision, the Commission explained that “[w]hile typically we decline to second-guess the Board on its fact-specific conclusions, here the decision contains obvious material factual errors and could be misleading, warranting clarification.” The Commission found that New York State’s evidence and legal arguments were persuasive and had the potential to materially affect the analysis of severe accident minimization measures and their cost-effectiveness for Indian Point.
Today’s decision by the NRC Commissioners represents a significant event in the history of the Indian Point site.
The Attorney General’s office has worked to improve Indian Point’s accident preparedness, and ensure the protection of public health and the environment of the surrounding region. After Entergy submitted an application to the NRC to renew the operating licenses for an additional 20 years, the Attorney General’s Office submitted Contention 12, which argued that Entergy’s environmental report failed to accurately model the cleanup and decontamination costs for a severe accident in the area surrounding Indian Point, which includes the New York City Metropolitan Area.
In 2010, NRC released its final supplemental environmental impact statement for Indian Point – a document that continued to fail to properly analyze and disclose to the public severe accident risk and mitigation.
In response, the Attorney General’s Office submitted expert testimony, reports, legal briefs, and over 100 exhibits demonstrating the inadequate analysis of severe accidents and severe underestimation of the costs of a severe accident at Indian Point. Entergy and NRC Staff challenged the State every step of the way, repeatedly lodging challenges to the Attorney General’s arguments.
In November 2013, the Board’s resolved Contention 12 in favor of NRC Staff and Entergy. Almost immediately, Attorney General Schneiderman filed to a motion to reopen the record and for reconsideration of the contention, which the Board denied. The State appealed the Board’s decision on Contention 12 to the NRC Commissioners, and briefing on the appeal was completed in 2014. Today’s decision is in response to the appeal by Attorney General Schneiderman.
The Indian Point facilities are located 24 miles north of New York City, 35 miles from Times Square, and 38 miles from Wall Street. The facilities are 6 miles from one of the reservoirs that make up the New York City drinking water system. According to Entergy, approximately 19 million people will live within 50 miles of Indian Point by 2035. Indian Point has the highest surrounding population of any US reactor; Indian Point has more than twice the surrounding population as the next nuclear plant site.
The initial 40-year license terms expired in September 2013 for Indian Point unit 2 and December 2015 for Indian Point unit 3.
This matter is being handled for the Environmental Protection Bureau by Assistant Attorneys General John Sipos, Kathryn DeLuca, and Laura Heslin, with the assistance of Environmental Scientist Jodi Feld. The Environmental Protection Bureau is led by Lemuel M. Srolovic and is part of the Division of Social Justice, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg.” Emphasis our own, original here: http://www.ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-applauds-major-decision-federal-nrc-commissioners-require-re-analysis
One important point of the US NRC ruling seems to be: “we agree with New York that it is inappropriate to discount altogether the example of the Fukushima accident as an irrelevant “extreme” or “worst case” scenario, as the Staff and Entergy argue” (Note that they say “discount altogether” meaning that they still discount it.)
On the other hand: “the SAMA analysis does not include various categories of costs, including for example, hospitalization or other medical costs (the analysis instead assesses costs based on radiological dose the population receives), loss of tax revenues, deployment of the National Guard, and litigation expenses. NEPA requirements are “tempered by a practical rule of reason.”
How is it either “practical” or “reasonable” to make insurance companies and ultimately the US taxpayer and communities responsible for these extra cancers and other health impacts? How are they getting by with this? Why are people letting them?
And, “Population dose is converted to a monetary value through use of an NRC-recommended monetary conversion value (currently $2,000 per person/rem).“ http://www.ag.ny.gov/pdfs/2016_05_04_CommissionersDecision.pdf
1 rem is 1000 mrem, i.e. 10 mSv. Thus 1000 mSv exposure is valued at $200,000. According to evaluation of a recent US government (and other gov) funded study of nuclear workers, 1000 mSv (1 Sv) exposure causes an estimated 152 EXCESS cancers in a population of 100 people (though it is generally discussed in terms of 100,000 people, ie. 152,000 excess cancers per 100,000 people; On average these radiation induced cancers shorten life by 14 or 15 years – BEIR’s “life-shortening effects”).
So, 100% excess cancer risk kicks in at a much lower value of approximately 658 mSv, valued by the NRC at $131,600. This is only 3 1/3 years worth of a $40,000 per year salary. How much is medical care? Some life-extending cancer drugs cost $200,000 per year. And loss of care-giving by the victims who are often grandparent age, and loss of work for care-givers of the victims? For more details see: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/another-look-at-the-recent-low-dose-radiation-exposure-study-inworks/ How is it reasonable not to consider medical and other social costs?
Depending on where the “person rem” “collective dose” falls and its distribution, the risks for an individual, or particular population, will be higher or lower, but the risks are there. Does “person rem” include many people walking back and forth through a contaminated area in a busy metro area? Acute rad syndrome and possible death kicks in as low as 1000 mSv: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acute_radiation_syndrome Generally pro-nuclear Wikipedia (since the nuclear industry is allowed to pay people to monitor and write on Wikipedia) argues that “Particularly the collective dose will not give a good indication of health consequences where the doses to some individuals are large enough to cause to deterministic effects“. [Deterministic means things like acute radiation syndrome (illness) and short term death.] “The cancer risk due to a unit dose of radiation depends on the age and other characteristics of the population… Releases of radioisotopes can expose future generations to ionizing radiation and the calculation of the collective dose from such releases will contain uncertainties. For example, it is impossible to be sure of future population sizes and habits (e.g. diet and agricultural practices). Also the effects of a given radiation dose in the future may be greater (longer life expectancies) or less (improvements in cancer treatment) than for current exposures./ When calculating the total collective dose due to a release of long-lived radionuclides (e.g. Carbon-14) it is necessary to make assumptions about the habits and population sizes of future generations, and sometimes it is assumed that population sizes and behaviour remain the same for all time.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_dose
When dealing with the USNRC getting anything is generally said to be a “win”. So, though this doesn’t sound like one it probably is:
“In seeking our review, New York’s petition calls the Board’s April 1, 2014 order
“inextricably linked to, and part of, the Partial Initial Decision.” Among other claims, New York argues that the Board overlooked New York’s evidence that using a “365 day TIMDEC for the four most severe accidents Entergy modeled (while maintaining Entergy’s values for all other parameters) would almost double the offsite economic cost risk.” While we granted review of both related Board decisions, we need not reach the various arguments on the Board’s April 1, With respect to Contention NYS-12C, we reverse the Board’s decision in LBP-13-13 in regard to the TIMDEC and CDNFRM input values, and direct the Staff to run sensitivity analyses for those values, as indicated. New York’s petition for review of the Board’s April 1, 2014 decision is denied. Our decision today becomes part of, and serves to supplement, the environmental record of decision for this matter.” http://www.ag.ny.gov/pdfs/2016_05_04_CommissionersDecision.pdf
The ruling actually appears to have to do with the risks associated with a spent fuel pool accident, which might take 365 days to clean up due to magnitude. Where is the ruling or discussion re the impact of leaking spent nuclear fuel casks and the need to better cover them for protection? The New York AGs office knows about these dry casks risks. They have been presented with expert models. Did they present the information to the USNRC? Is the NY AG ignoring the expert models or is the US NRC ignoring the information? Did the New York AG force experts to testify only to ignore them? If not, where is the info? If so why is the information being ignored?
Showing the high levels of radiation present in spent nuclear fuel in both the spent fuel pool AND dry casks for Cesium 137 only, at San Onofre in California.
Image by Donna Gilmore of San Onofre Safety, https://sanonofresafety.org/