Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Hard Question

If you have a nuclear plant less than 30 miles away from one of the largest urban populations in the country, should your emergency warning system be equipped with a backup power supply?

This, believe it or not, is the thorny philosophical conundrum currently bedeviling the most powerful brains at the NRC:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will decide in about a month whether to consider requiring nuclear power companies, including Indian Point's owner, Entergy, to install backup power systems for their emergency notification systems.

The federal agency held a nationwide conference call yesterday with environmental activists and others who worried that a power outage could hamper nuclear facilities' emergency alert systems. Several representatives from Riverkeeper, the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition and Westchester and Rockland county legislators said it was absurd not to have a backup system, such as batteries, to help warn residents about a radioactive leak. An Entergy representative participating in the call said the company was opposed to the idea.
Sure, batteries would work. Solar would work too, and would add a pleasing note of irony to the proceedings.

My view, of course, is that Indian Point should be shut down entirely. But if it must stay open, then you may count me as one feeble voice raised in support of emergency backup power.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, sure, they should get a back-up power supply for the warning system. That's pretty obvious. We have a nuclear plant about 35 miles away, as the crow flies. The plant is also within wind distance of metro-New Orleans. What do we do if we are warned? Will they tell us which way to run? What if wind direction changes? The back-up power supply for the warning system won't soothe me a whole hell of a lot.

Phila said...

It's true...many nuclear warning systems are essentially useless. I used to live about two miles south of Westchester County, and I can say with assurance that there's nowhere to run from a disaster at Indian Point.

That said, I'd still rather have a working warning system with a power backup. If your plane crashes into the sea, you probably won't survive...but that doesn't mean you'd feel good about being on a plane without flotation devices or lifejackets!