Orange Environment, Inc.

September 24, 2007 – OE President Submits Indian Point Testimony

September 24, 2007 – OE President Submits Indian Point Testimony

Indian Point Testimony

TESTIMONY OF MICHAEL R. EDELSTEIN, PH.D. President, Orange Environment, Inc.


September 19, 2007 Cortland Manor, Putnam, County

I am President of a 501C3 organization, Orange Environment, Inc.,

that for the past 25 years has been deeply involved in the crucial environmental, community and sustainability issues affecting Orange County, New York and its region. OEI has intervened in numerous permit hearings for hazardous facilities. OEI is a member of the Indian Point Coalition, which includes Riverkeeper and other organizations. I am speaking tonight on behalf of OEI.

	I am Professor of Psychology at Ramapo College of New Jersey,

whose campus and nearly 6,000 students and staff are also potentially within an impact region for the Indian Point Complex. At Ramapo, I head the Environmental Studies program and co-direct the Institute for Environmental Studies.

	I am also a past candidate for Orange County Executive. During

my campaign, I took the position, which I still hold, that the reactors in question today represent a hazard for the residents of Orange County and should be closed and deactivated.

	My scoping input for the environmental review of the continued

operations under a renewed license of Units 2 and 3 at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant is informed by my nearly thirty years of work as an Environmental Psychologist studying the social and psychological impacts resulting from environmental exposures and disasters. My book, Contaminated Communities (Second Edition, Westview Press, 2003/4) is considered to be the classic text for understanding such environmental impacts. My most recent book, Cultures of Contamination Elsevier Press, 2007), contrasts the response to toxic and radioactive contamination in the U.S. and Russia, including extensive discussion of Chernobyl, the Mayak disaster and the Hanford Nuclear Complex in the U.S. In the course of my research and practice, I have given testimony for toxic torts litigation and administrative hearings involving hazardous facilities and worked as a consultant on several state study teams examining the potential impacts of siting a high level nuclear waste repository.


  1. My scoping list begins with the need to review the assumptions of the original Reactor Safety Study by Rasmussen, the basis for the position that nuclear reactors are safe, i.e., that the likelihood of a high consequence accident is sufficiently remote to make the building and operation of reactors acceptable.
    1. Whatever the merit of these assumptions when written, how would they be revisited given our experience witnessing just how high the consequences of a plant accident can be?
    2. How commonplace non-catastrophic events have been?
    3. And that even unlikely serious events are still likely enough to occur unacceptably often?
    4. This analysis should develop a catalog of potential events, ranging from small to worst case catastrophic disaster, indicating all likely scenarios for each event type. This typology will then be used throughout the document as a template for outlining the supporting analysis for every topic. Each typology should be accompanied by a spatial impact zone analysis for the event as well as an analysis of the type of impacts expected.
  2. And how is the likelihood of failure (and plant safety) affected by the continued operation of a nuclear reactor well beyond its original design life?
  3. The review must thoroughly address implications for Indian Point of the failure of the civilian nuclear waste disposal program following the Nuclear Waste Policy Act as passed and subsequently amended calls into question the wisdom, safety and feasibility of permitting any new or renewed nuclear plant licenses because there are no acceptable long term waste disposal options. It is not sufficient to say that Yucca Mountain might open or that temporary onsite storage might suffice. At a minimum, the document must address the issue of wastes in the short, intermediate, long and perpetual term, giving a full impact analysis of all issues associated with onsite storage, transportation of wastes and eventual disposal. If this issue cannot be addressed with a level of completeness, and showing satisfactory avoidance of impact, then the project is not permitable.
  4. The assessment must also address the specific conditions that face Indian Point’s operation in context, some of which were evident at the time of the siting but are further understood today. These issues for scoping include:
    1. The Ramapo fault line as a threat to reactor integrity. Is this a geologically appropriate location for a nuclear facility?
    2. The proximity and susceptibility of populations in potential and perhaps likely harms way should an accident or release materialize. What are the changed demographics and population conditions within a worst-case zone around the plant?
    3. The issues of human and design error that, since Three Mile Island, have been recognized as commonplace, expected and, in the language of reactor and hazardous facility expert Charles Perrow, “normal accidents.” What are the implications of “normal accident” theory for these plants?
    4. The abominable record regarding plant integrity that has plagued Indian Point, as evidenced by tritium leakage and other threats to the Hudson River, groundwater and the surrounding population and biota.
    5. The questionable record of security amassed by Entergy, the plant operator.
    6. The issue of terrorism and new security threats (for example, complicated by onsite waste storage).
    7. The repeated and endemic failure of sirens and warning systems. There is a contradiction presently between the failure of mandated warning capability and the continued permitting of the plant that cannot be perpetuated in a new permit. The study must address the issue that such mitigations, when unrealized, represent a failure of the level of protection that was deemed requisite for permitting to begin with. Are mitigations only rhetorical or must they be substantive as well? What has the failure of regulation been to date that has allowed rhetorical mitigation to suffice?
    8. The warning failures are coupled with the impossibility of evacuating at risk populations even if warning devices functioned properly. Studies need to thoroughly review and test the feasibility of any evacuation scenario that is considered in the decision to reauthorize. Evacuation cannot be considered a protective mitigatory option if it is not going to happen. These evacuation issues include but are hardly limited to the facts, to be confirmed in the study, that:
    9. Evacuating populations would have great difficulty moving west across the Hudson River crossings.
    10. That once across the river, they would find it difficult if not impossible to move out of likely fallout or impact zones due extreme baseline congestion problems on the New York State Thruway, New Jersey roadways, Rt. 17/6/86 and Rt. 84. These roads have unacceptable LOS rates during portions of the week.
    11. That proposed development, including proposed casinos in Sullivan County, New York, threaten to make congestion problems intractable in the foreseeable future. How does evacuation occur in a zone of perpetual immobility?
    12. That the availablility of evacuation vehicles and drivers for populations is not certain. Katrina was a test case for the issues of unrealized evacuation.
    13. That evacuation areas for populations are inadequate and not sufficiently isolated from potential impacts. A review must address where evacuated people will gather and be cared for at a level of potential successful implementation, something currently lacking. Furthermore, the length of evacuation and the possibilities for relocation if evacuation is long term or permanent must be fully explored, along with all of the attendant impact issues (loss of jobs, livelihood, property loss and replacement, the readiness of current insurance policies to address liability issues, evacuation and care for injured in short and long term, costs of cleanup, rehabilitation and reconstruction, etc.)
    14. That evacuating populations on the west side of the river would block or be blocked by those evacuating from the east side of the river. The prospect of people being blocked by congestion from fleeing during a disaster demanding their evacuation promises enormous trauma and no mitigation of risk of exposure.
    15. .That under the best circumstances, some residents of evacuation zones would remain at home, workplace or community even if ordered to leave or would delay departure (looking for their family members, animals, securing homes against vandalism, or doubting the need or efficacy of escape). While this trend would ease road congestion, what are the possibilities for people to ride out nuclear disasters caused by Indian Point at home?
    16. Is the iodine distribution process adequate to the test of a real disaster?
    17. That the overall inability to safely evacuate populations at risk during an Indian Point event (even if no release eventually occurred) parallels the factual basis for the decision to never start up the Seabrook Nuclear power plant on Long Island even though the plant was newly built and never operated. If New York determined it too dangerous for Seabrook to open, in what ways are conditions at Indian Point different enough to justify a different outcome?
    18. That development of air traffic at Stewart Airbase in Newburgh and realigned air routes by the FCC associated with Newark Airport further compound congestion on land and by air in the region of the plant.

Section II

The document must also address health consequences, incorporating psycho-social as well as physical health consequences. Because there is a long history of Indian Point, historic and current impacts can be assessed to serve as a guide to future impacts. There is also a substantial literature related to the psycho-social impact issues of plant siting and plant events and accidents. For example, Three Mile Island, while its impacts are thought to be relatively minor in terms of radioactive release, were not minor in terms of stress and psycho-social impact (let the study review the very extensive literature) and of course, that TMI involved the near status of a major accident. Likewise, Chernobyl and other types of human-caused disasters have a known and documented legacy that should be discussed in light of the historical and proposed future operations of Indian Point.

Accordingly, the study must assess:

    1. the contributions of the plant to stress experienced by those living and working in the surrounding and potentially impacted communities,
    2. perceived threats and their correspondence to the typology of reactor events
    3. an assessment of the everyday impacts of the plant’s operation
    4. An analysis of the psycho-social consequences associated with bounding of risk (the creation of demarcations on a map of risk zones, as currently practices) and the corresponding reality of such lines on a map.
    5. Psycho-social consequences associated with such events as chronic and acute leaks, accidents, breaches of security, terrorist acts, warning system failures, evacuation system failures, loss of political support, loss of public support, etc. This analysis shall include for all events, including everyday operation, impacts to perceived safety.
    6. An assessment of the historic impact of the plant on property values, tax collection, home sales and economic activity and development that shows lost opportunities and costs as well as benefits. This analysis shall include assessments of residents, home buyers, realtors, business investors, renting behavior, people evaluating where to live in the region, effects on tourism, and all areas of economic impact at outward spheres of impact, including existing risk zones, and beyond. The level of analysis will include an understanding of the type of land use and residential decisions that are made and what choices are foregone due to the plant.
    7. .An assessment of Environmental Justice impacts associated with demographic influences or economic consequences of the plant.
    8. An analysis of perceived and confirmed health consequences of living and working in the potential impact zones of the plant.
    9. An analysis of perceived impacts to psychological well being, overall quality of life and people’s sense of control over their lives for the various impact zones around the plant due to the existing and re-permitted facilities.
    10. An analysis of perceived impacts to people’s feelings about the safety, desirability and integrity of the local environment due to the existing and re-permitted facilities and impacts for their connection to place.
    11. An analysis if the perceived impacts to people’s feelings about the safety and desirability of their homes and any changes to behavior toward homes, the quality of home life and home ownership or rentership and the use of homes due to the existing and re-permitted facilities.
    12. .An analysis of community life as affected due to the existing and re-permitted facilities.
    13. An analysis of local economic life due to the existing and re-permitted facilities and contrasting re-permitting to closure.
    14. An analysis of how effects to patterns of behavior and lifestyle due to the existing and re-permitted facilities.
    15. An analysis of changes to the experience of childhood in the surrounding and impacted communities due to the existing and re-permitted facilities.
    16. An analysis of changes to the quality of family relationships and experiences due to the existing and re-permitted facilities.
    17. An analysis of community cohesion and conflict as affected by the existing and re-permitted facilities.
    18. An analysis of how the impact region would be different at different future intervals comparing re-permitting to closure and decommissioning.
    19. An analysis of the psycho-social consequences (behaviors, cognitive and emotional) and victimization conditions associated with all scenarios and types of plant events for the existing and re-permitted facilities.


The review of Indian Point 2 and 3 reactors must attain a level of criticality and thoroughness if there is any chance of justifying a permit renewal. In this regard, the review, for each of the issues raised for scoping, must thoroughly evaluate the critical issues of NEPA. Specifically,

  1. Need for the plant renewals must be examined in a comprehensive manner, both from the perspective of the public and Entergy. It is noted here, that unless issues such as the lack of any long term nuclear waste disposal options can be addressed and unless the entire nuclear cycle is thoroughly included in the analysis, nuclear power cannot be justified as a greenhouse friendly technology.
  2. Alternatives must be thoroughly reviewed for their feasibility and impacts. In particular, a thorough and honest review of the use of conservation, renewable energy and other emerging innovations must be included that explores the use of these approaches to replace the contributions made by Indian Point. It will not be sufficient to use coal fired or other fossil fuel technologies as a straw dog to justify nuclear power.
  3. Mitigations that are suggested must be explored in depth and established with contingencies should they fail to be implemented or work.
  4. Secondary and further impacts must be explored beyond primary impacts, as well as the relationship between different levels of impact.
  5. Cumulative impacts for all scoped areas of consideration must be fully explored. For example, a serious accident at an Indian Point Reactor would have multiple responses, all affecting the same populations and responders, infrastructure and region. As these simultaneous subevents occur, they will interact with each other, potentially changing, magnifying or causing other interactive and synergistic outcomes. These need to be fully explored.
  6. Short term, Intermediate term, Long term and Perpetual Term consequences need to be assessed. A serious nuclear event is likely to extend far into the future, as is indicated by the consequences of the Chernobyl and Mayak accidents and by releases at American and foreign nuclear reservations and facilities. During the high level nuclear waste studies, my former colleague Michael Brill did a consulting report on how one would communicate danger to people approaching a nuclear site many tens of thousands of years from now, when no current language would be understood.
  7. Energy Impacts. An event at Indian Point would impact energy availability and potentially cause additional energy impacts. Regional fires might cause microclimatic effects, reducing the effectiveness of solar panels, etc.
  8. Irreversible and irretrievable impacts. As indicated by the Chernobyl accident, which occurred in a very different reactor but was human caused, consequences of a nuclear event can be widespread and so long lasting as to require effectively permanent land use changes. Ecosystem impacts and health impacts can be widespread. Even fundamental social change was induced by the accident and the way it was initially handled. The dead zones around Chernobyl and Mayak are echoed by American dead zones in some of our nuclear reservations. And the issue of creating nuclear wastes for which there is no reasonable disposal option is itself and irreversible and irretrievable change.

For a permit to be issued for the Indian Point Reactors, the NRC must weigh and balance data of environmental, economic and social impact. As lead agency, the NRC must first demand a level of review that will produce information capable of informing that judgment. And, key to this crucial decision will be revisiting the central question of acceptable risk in the context of Indian Point. If you have any questions or require additional guidance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Sincerely,

Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D.

Orange Environment, Inc., Box 25 Goshen NY 10924. 845 294 5252.
PURPOSE: To discuss the environmental scoping process for These meetings will provide members of the public with the opportunity to provide comments regarding environmental issues that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should consider during its review of the LRA. These meetings are being conducted as part of the scoping process outlined in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 51 (10 CFR Part 51) to support development of an environmental impact statement related to the LRA. See the enclosed Agenda. The LRA is available at and in the Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (Accession Number ML071210507). Jill Caverly, Project Manager /RA/ Environmental Branch B Division of License Renewal Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation Nuclear Regulatory Commission