FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2015
A Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) report on the recent operation of Entergy’s FitzPatrick nuclear reactor near Oswego, New York reveals multiple safety violations that went unnoticed or unreported by the company in late 2015.
The report comes at a time when Entergy’s other nuclear reactor in New York – Indian Point – is under increased pressure and scrutiny by New York Governor Cuomo due to a significant radioactive water leak and other operational problems. At the same time, the Governor and other New York officials are working to secure a massive consumer bailout for the unprofitable FitzPatrick reactor, declaring that the Upstate nuclear reactors don’t pose a safety and environmental risk to the public.
Anti-nuclear watchdogs today pointed to the violations revealed at FitzPatrick as evidence that Entergy is mismanaging both plants and that no subsidies should be extended to FitzPatrick. Specifically, the report reveals:
- Entergy operated during the previous fuel cycle (October 2013-October 2015) without the required number of Safety Relief Valves. The NRC did not catch this problem. It was eventually realized by Entergy and voluntarily reported to the NRC.
- In November 2015, Entergy took one of the emergency diesel generators (backup power supply) out of service while another generator was already offline for service, raising the safety risk of the facility against its own maintenance protocol. Without backup generators, operators at FitzPatrick would not be able to prevent a meltdown and massive radiological release if offsite power were lost.
- In December 2015, Entergy failed to tell NRC about an incident in which the secondary containment ventilation system was inoperable. Secondary containment pressurization is a vital safety function, to prevent radiation from entering the control room and forcing the operators to evacuate.
Meanwhile, at Entergy’s Indian Point reactor, a major leak is in progress, with detected levels of tritium (radioactive water) dramatically rising since first detected. (See: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/indian-point-power-plant-radioactive-leak-worse-article-1.2526779) Governor Cuomo has initiated a multi-agency investigation into Entergy’s management of the Indian Point plant.
“Entergy’s mismanagement of nuclear power plants has never been confined to Indian Point,” said Tim Judson, Executive Director of national Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS). “FitzPatrick has long posed very serious nuclear safety threats, and the violations revealed today demonstrate Entergy’s systemic mismanagement and reckless disregard for safety. New York should embrace Entergy’s decision to close the plant, and not force New Yorkers to spend potentially billions of dollars propping up this old, dirty, and dangerous reactor.”
In true NRC fashion, the regulatory agency categorized all of the findings at FitzPatrick as having a low safety significance because the risks did not result in an accident or radiation exposure. The NRC also chose not to fine Entergy for these violations.
“The NRC always lets nuclear operators off the hook, even when their failures increase the risks of an accident. As long as no accident actually occurs, all is forgiven and forgotten,” said Jessica Azulay, Program Director of the Alliance for a Green Economy, a Syracuse-based organization that has been watchdogging FitzPatrick for four years. “But for those of us living in the shadow of this aging and dangerous reactor, we will not forgive or forget until this reactor is shut down and we are truly safe. We in Upstate New York deserve the same protection and level of concern as those living downstate when it comes to the nuclear threats in our region.”
Entergy has announced its intentions to shutter FitzPatrick, due to an inability to turn a profit at the plant. Nevertheless, state officials are working to create a policy that would require all New York electricity customers to pay more for their energy in order to subsidize FitzPatrick and other struggling nuclear plants in Upstate New York. For FitzPatrick, the subsidy would likely amount to more than $60 million per year. So far, Entergy has continued to say that its plans to shut FitzPatrick are firm.
The inspection report can be found here: http://www.allianceforagreeneconomy.org/sites/default/files/Fitz%20IR%20…