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Engineering Experts Confirm Catastrophic Risks of Locating New Gas Pipeline Adjacent to Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

December 16, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: Thursday, December 15, 2016
Contact: Professor Yuri Gorby, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York

Engineering Experts Confirm Catastrophic Risks of Locating
New Gas Pipeline Adjacent to Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

Project Nearing Completion and Full Operation

Rensselaer, NY – Paul Blanch, a leading nuclear power safety expert with more than 50 years of experience in military and civilian nuclear power and a former consultant to New York State and the Indian Point nuclear power facility, demonstrated the potential catastrophic risks of siting a large diameter, high-pressure gas transmission pipeline directly adjacent to Indian Point located in Buchanan, New York, a suburb just 30 miles north of New York City. At a forum at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Mr. Blanch discussed calculations performed by other independent engineers corroborating his calculations of a blast radius from a potential gas transmission pipeline rupture at Indian Point using data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy, the plant owner and operator. The group of independent experts concur that the blast radius exceeds 4,000 feet and may engulf the entire nuclear site impacting more than 20 million people in the New York tri-state region and rendering the area within the 50-mile impact radius uninhabitable for generations. Potential economic losses could run into trillions of dollars.

Representatives from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Spectra Energy, and Entergy were invited to speak at the symposium but declined the invitation. Using methodology prohibited by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the NRC significantly reduced probability in its calculations without any supporting documentation.

Construction of the Spectra AIM pipeline adjacent to the Indian Point nuclear power plant is nearly completed and full operation is planned in a matter of weeks. The pipeline is a large 42″ diameter, high-pressure gas transmission pipeline that is sited only 105 feet from critical infrastructure vital to the safe operation of the facility. Calculating the risks of designing, siting, installing and operating a high-pressure gas pipeline in close proximity to an aging nuclear power plant is complex especially when sited in the most densely populated region in the nation. According to federal regulations, an independent, transparent risk assessment is required, however, was never conducted despite numerous requests by federal, state and local officials.

Nuclear expert, Paul Blanch, stated, “The NRC has underestimated the probability of a gas line accident impacting the Indian Point nuclear plant by at least a factor of 1,000. The NRC and Entergy have failed to provide any supportable documentation that Indian Point can safely shut down the plants in the event of a gas line rupture, and Entergy has no emergency procedures in place at Indian Point to respond to a gas line rupture. The blast radius from a gas line rupture would likely encompass the entire Indian Point site, disabling all vital equipment required to prevent core damage and major radioactive releases to the environment.” Mr. Blanch continued, “It is my expert opinion that once gas is introduced into the AIM pipeline there will be a grave and imminent danger to the surrounding area and residents. The consequences of a nuclear event at Indian Point may impact millions of lives in the Hudson Valley and New York City and cause social and economic impacts in the trillions of dollars range.”


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