Federal regulators have fined the operators of New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant $130,000 for failure to meet an April 15 deadline to install a new emergency siren system for the 10-mile evacuation zone around the plant. Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that the failure to get the replacement sirens working properly, even with a 75-day extension, was a “significant regulatory concern.” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said that Entergy Nuclear Northeast has 30 days to deliver a plan to get the new system online, the same amount of time company officials have to contest the fine.
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said it was too early to say when the new sirens would be fully operational, but the company expected to deliver its plan and respond to the enforcement action within the 30-day period.
In an April 12 test, 31 of the 150 new sirens failed, including all 14 sirens in Putnam County, one of four covered in the evacuation zone (with Westchester, Rockland and Orange). An antiquated system of sirens for the zone remains in place.
A staff attorney at the Riverkeeper environmental organization said the amount of the fine would adequate—if it were a fine for every day the plant operates without the overdue system. “Riverkeeper is encouraged by NRC’s action, but a one-time fine of $130,000 is small change for a corporation that makes $2 million a day in profit at Indian Point,” said Phillip Musegaas. “The NRC should exercise its full legal authority and fine Entergy $130,000 a day for each day Indian Point is in violation of the siren order. This situation demands the strictest possible enforcement.” (Lower Hudson Journal News, April 24)
Emergency sirens around the Indian Point nuclear plants were activated accidentally April 27, when a technician was performing what was supposed to be a silent test on the new system. Susan Tolchin, chief adviser to Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, an Indian Point critic, said of the accidental sounding, “It’s ridiculous. It’s one bungle after another.” The sirens wailed for 67 seconds, less than the four minutes prescribed for a real emergency. (AP, April 27)