Lowey: Indian Point Expert Evaluation Team Findings Must Lead to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reform
Lowey secures public meeting for community around Indian Point to address IG Report and NRC Expert Evaluation Team findings
Expert Evaluation Team findings substantiate many in IG report: Approval for gas line near Indian Point was based on faulty analysis, NRC needs to better coordinate with federal agencies
WHITE PLAINS, NY – Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that today’s report by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Indian Point Expert Evaluation Team reflects concerns she and her constituents raised starting in October 2015 and substantiates many of the claims made in the NRC Inspector General (IG)’s February 2020 inquiry. In March, Congresswoman Lowey requested and secured a public meeting for community members to voice concerns and speak directly to the Expert Evaluation Team.
The Expert Evaluation Team’s report on the concerns pertaining to the Algonquin Incremental Market pipeline’s proximity to Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) found that Entergy, the owner of the nuclear reactors, and the NRC made “optimistic assumptions” in analyzing the risk of the natural gas transmission pipeline. The team concluded the reactors would remain safe even if the pipeline were to rupture. The report also found that Entergy should do further analysis and that NRC processes and practices hindered cooperation and communication between and among agencies.
“I am grateful the NRC fulfilled its duty to investigate the IG’s findings, and I am relieved the experts working on its evaluation team found that the risk facing the communities surrounding Indian Point is very small,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “But this report cannot be the end of the story. The NRC must implement the recommendations outlined in the report and, if necessary, take regulatory action to ensure that Entergy does the same. I am particularly concerned that federal agencies such as the NRC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission need to work much more closely on important safety and health issues regarding nuclear reactors and natural gas pipelines.”
Congresswoman Lowey has been a fierce advocate for the safety of the communities surrounding IPEC for more than two decades. Along with other stakeholders, she has repeatedly raised concerns about the safety of this pipeline project. In October 2015, Congresswoman Lowey wrote a letter to then-NRC Chairman Stephen Burns to disagree with NRC’s position that further study of the risks associated with the Algonquin pipeline was unnecessary. More than four years and multiple meetings with stakeholders later, many of the concerns raised in that letter have been validated by the NRC IG findings and the Expert Evaluation Team’s report.
On March 3, 2020, Congresswoman Lowey met with NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki to discuss the NRC IG findings and the NRC’s failure to be a competent federal partner. Congresswoman Lowey called on the NRC to hold a public meeting following the public release of the Expert Evaluation Team’s findings.
“With the spread of the coronavirus throughout the Lower Hudson Valley, our community is focused on protecting our loved ones and saving lives,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “We can do that while continuing to ensure all operations and projects related to Indian Point Energy Center and its decommissioning do not put the surrounding communities at risk. I hope the past five years have taught the NRC that it should listen to stakeholders, because the Indian Point community’s concerns were valid. I’m glad the NRC has agreed to conduct the public briefing I requested and hope that it is conducted as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The NRC Expert Evaluation Team’s full report can be found here.