Gregory Jaczko, who led the five-member commission during the triple meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station and resigned last year after intense clashes with the industry and the other four commissioners, said in a wide-ranging interview that:
Emergency plans for Indian Point only teach officials how to make the best decisions in a bad situation and minimize the extent of contamination for those within 10 miles of the Hudson River site. The plans will do nothing to protect the 21 million people living within 50 miles, including New York City, northern New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and western Connecticut.
With the exception of Allison M. Macfarlane, his replacement as NRC Chair, the four commissioners “were brought onto the commission because they were more interested in looking at the impact of regulations on the industry rather than on the possible impact on the safety of the public.”
The agency’s risk assessment, which undergirds its regulatory structure and determines what practices are safe, is seriously flawed because of a basic assumption that worst case scenarios cannot happen. As a result, there is little thought given to the consequences of accidents — even though it is certain that some will occur.
Because the consequences of a meltdown at Indian Point are incalculably catastrophic, it would be best if the plant were closed.
For Kan, closing reactors is a mission, almost atonement for the calamity caused by the meltdowns at Fukushima. Kan, speaking through an interpreter, said part of what drives him involves the sheer scale of the nuclear disaster to hit his land.
“Fukushima Daiichi has old reactors, just like Indian Point,” said Kan in a late night interview.
And you have an even larger population around Indian Point than we did around Fukushima. I wanted people living in the vicinity of Fukushima to get out of there as quickly as possible. That was my thinking. I ordered an evacuation from five kilometers around the plant, then 10 kilometers, then 20.
And all the while I thought about how this would affect them. What is going to happen to those people in their future? They are going to lose their homes and lose their jobs and lose their way of life. Everything they depended on will be destroyed. I felt really bad for those people who had to leave everything — who lost everything.
As head of state, the responsibility of not being able to prevent this from happening was a really great burden.