Town Board Passes Resolution Seeking 50-Mile Indian Point Evacuation Zone

Joins County and Village Governments in Urging Safety Measure

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

The Philipstown Town Board last week added its voice to the growing grass-roots demand for greater public protection in the event of a radiation disaster and urged extension of the Indian Point nuclear power plant evacuation zone from 10 to 50 miles.

Operated by Entergy Corp., the Indian Point facility has been the focus of a burgeoning citizen-environmental-governmental movement, spurred by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan, where radiation spread 140 miles to threaten Tokyo’s water supply. Indian Point is located along the Hudson River at the edge of Peekskill, just beyond the Philipstown border.

The plant contains three nuclear reactors, two of which are active, with the third no longer in use. Critics contend that, among other serious safety hazards posed by Indian Point, the current 10-mile evacuation zone is dangerously inadequate.

Meeting in a workshop on June 12, the Town Board voted 3 to 1 in favor of the “Resolution for Public Health and Safety regarding Indian Point Nuclear Plant.” Supervisor Richard Shea and Councilors Nancy Montgomery and Dave Merandy backed the measure, Councilor John Van Tassel opposed it, and Councilor Betty Budney was absent following the death of her husband, Mackey Budney. (The Town Board consists of the supervisor and four council members, known as councilmen or councilwomen, or simply as councilors.)

In its resolution, the Town Board observed that after the Fukushima accident, President Barack Obama and Gregory Jaczko, then-Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, both called for evacuation of Americans in Japan within 50 miles of Fukushima.

Among other points it made, the resolution observed that reservoirs for Westchester County towns, Putnam County communities, and New York City lie within 20 miles of Indian Point and that a New York state-commissioned report found the state’s emergency plan for Indian Point “inadequate to protect the public from radiological exposure.” It declared that those deficiencies must be remedied; that better storage of spent nuclear fuel rods at Indian Point should be implemented, along with other upgrades; and that the “Town Board for the protection of its citizens calls for the emergency evacuation zone around Indian Point to be extended from 10 to 50 miles.”

The Putnam County Legislature passed a comparable resolution in April and in May overrode County Executive MaryEllen Odell’s veto of the measure. Likewise in May, Cold Spring’s Village Board of Trustees approved a resolution similar to the Town Board’s.

Indian Point falls under the jurisdiction of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Legislation approved at the village or county level thus imposes no clear constraints, although it makes a statement to higher-level regulators of grass-roots government concerns and gives nuclear safety advocates another tool for molding public opinion.

4 thoughts on “Town Board Passes Resolution Seeking 50-Mile Indian Point Evacuation Zone

  1. So, when they close Indian Point because they realize they can’t possibly evacuate all of New York City, which is within the 50-mile radius, where will we get our electricity from, Obama?
    Shame on the Town Board, you fell into the unthinking emotional trap, just like you were supposed to. Same with the Republicans on the County level. How much will this raise our taxes, oh I am sorry, our electric bill.

  2. We can’t ignore the fact that toxic plumes of airborne radiological particles released in nuclear accidents can easily travel 50 miles. The Philipstown Board’s call for a 50-mile evacuation zone is a considered and appropriate response to the scientific facts. I applaud the board for their careful evaluation and for making public safety a priority.

    Putnam County gets absolutely no power from the Indian Point Nuclear Plant, so it has no effect on our electric bills. For the people of Westchester and NYC where the plant supplies approximately 5 percent of their electricity, there are multiple projects underway that will more than make up for Indian Points power generation well before it’s needed.

    Indian Point has waged an effective misinformation campaign — $6 million spent on advertising, lobbying, public relations and creating fake grassroots organizations to distort the truth.

  3. In Cold Spring we are a mere 17 miles away. What disturbs me is that I am frequently hearing horns and sirens from Haldane and elsewhere and never certain what they are for. It would be helpful for the village to delineate these alerts so we know what is what.

    • Indian Point’s reactors are actually even more uncomfortably close to Cold Spring village than that – only 10 miles away. That is why you get the pleasure of warning sirens, which currently only sound within a 10-mile radius. It is even worse for the Garrison area of Philipstown near the Bear Mountain Bridge at only about 4 miles away.

      You know, Philipstown is so incredibly beautiful. What a tragic loss it would be if it was turned into a radioactive wasteland. Yet our government allows continued operation of this old 1960’s technology that has the potential to do just that. Even worse, we don’t even need it any longer.