WASHINGTON—The following is a statement by the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer, Joe F. Colvin, in response to the draft report, “Review of Emergency Preparedness at Indian Point and Millstone,” released in New York last Friday by James Lee Witt Associates LLC. New York Gov. George Pataki announced last August that Witt Associates would review emergency preparedness for the area around the Indian Point Energy Center and for that portion of New York in proximity to the Millstone nuclear power plant in Connecticut.
“The nuclear energy industry’s longstanding commitment to emergency preparedness has created emergency plans that are second to none. The value of these plans has been demonstrated repeatedly over the past 20 years in non-nuclear emergencies in communities that have experienced chemical spills, fires and major storms.
“As part of our continuous commitment to emergency planning, the Nuclear Energy Institute in 1998 and again last year coordinated industry self-assessments of on-site elements of emergency preparedness programs and is integrating improvements into companies’ respective programs. The Witt Associates report will have tremendous value in that ongoing effort.
“Mr. Witt also has pinpointed some generic emergency preparedness issues that are central to the broader homeland security discussions. Since the tragic events of September 11, issues of communication and coordination among industry, local law enforcement authorities, and various state and federal agencies have received considerable attention. NEI believes this area must remain a priority for the new federal Department of Homeland Security, with the recognition that this aspect of emergency preparedness is by no means unique to the nuclear energy industry.
“As the Witt report notes, safety at nuclear power plants is rooted in a ‘defense in depth’ strategy. This strategy begins with robust plant designs and structural strength, and extends to operational excellence and the defense of our facilities, with the ultimate goal that emergency plans will never need to be implemented.
“U.S. nuclear power plants were the best-defended industrial facilities in the nation prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, and they are even more secure today. Some of the steps taken include extending the on-site power plant security zones, increasing patrols within those zones, and increasing the size of our security forces by 33 percent, bringing us to 7,000 armed, well-trained security officers today at 67 sites. Since September 11, nuclear power plants have spent a combined total of an additional $360 million on security-related capital and manpower improvements.
“Following the events of September 11, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission initiated a comprehensive review of requirements for plant security safeguards and policies. New requirements focused in part on emergency preparedness at plant sites in response to terrorist threats. Industry, in coordination with the NRC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is implementing these measures. The refined guidelines address areas that include on-site evacuation, off-site communications, emergency staffing, procedures and plans responding to a terrorist attack.”
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.