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Letter to NRC on recurring leak inside containment at Indian Point Unit 2 (06/23/2010)

During every refueling outage since 1993 at Indian Point Unit 2 (New York), radioactively contaminated water has been leaking into containment at rates between two and ten gallons per minute. The water is leaking through the metal liner for the refueling cavity, an area that is emptied of water during reactor operation and filled with water during refueling to allow underwater transfer of irradiated fuel assemblies. The liner, according to the plant's safety studies, is supposed to be leakproof as part of the protection package in event of earthquakes. The plant's owner has tried a few times to patch the leaking liner, but those efforts to restore the facility to within its safety analysis framework have failed. The NRC is well aware of the problem and the repeated failures to correct it. But the agency is complacent about all of it, similar to the person who writes off a flat tire as only being flat on the bottom. The NRC is on record as accepting the recurring violations of the plant's safety bases because it only leaks during refueling.

The situation now at Indian Point Unit 2 is eerily similar to the situation at Davis-Besse. That plant's owner and the NRC were aware of recurring leakage in its containment. The plant's owner and the NRC accepted the unacceptable at Davis-Besse. The US Congress asked the NRC how they could have overlooked such obvious warnings signs at Davis-Besse that put the people of northern Ohio at undue risk. Congress probably did not mean for the NRC to take this as an invitation to replicate that same complacent regulatory neglect at Indian Point Unit 2.

NRC must take steps to get this safety problem fixed at Indian Point Unit 2. If NRC is not up to the task, the Congress must compel NRC to do it or find someone else to do NRC's job for them. The status quo is untenable.

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