Friday, March 25, 2011

Have Bicycle, Will Flee

By now everyone in New York City should have realized that we live within 50 miles of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.

This realization has perhaps raised its ugly head again since the awful catastrophe in Japan, with no less than six Tokyo Electric Fukishima reactors suffering breakdowns and emitting harmful levels of radiation that have affected people, food, air, and water.

The workers in those plants will probably be very sick, and may die. The unknown is how many other people who lived near the plant--and that includes up to 90 miles where the wind blew harmful radiation, will be affected.

What's maddening is that the officials at Japan's nuclear agency deemed the safety precautions taken by Tokyo Electric to be sufficient, just as the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given their seal of approval to the much aged Indian Point Power Plant.  The final license renewal was completed in December, 2010.

Not much has been said about the Buchanan, NY based plant since it had a series of leaks about 10 years ago, when as a journalism student at Columbia University I did a story about the age and fitness of the plant and the area's evacuation plans.

At the time, the plant was already considered old. It had recently been taken over by Entergy Corporation which had gone on a buying spree across America scooping up old plants and making them more efficient by firing excess staff and streamlining operations.

But already then there had been several leaks, some into the air, and some into our very own Hudson River. Concerned local residents stocked up on Potassium Iodide in case of a major leak. But most of all, concerned citizens said that in the event of a major leak at Indian Point, the evacuation plans will yield not fleeing people--but a parking lot.

Riverkeeper, an advocacy organization that focuses on the environment along the Hudson River stated, "Due to Indian Point’s vulnerability to terrorism, a laundry list of safety problems, the storage of 1500 tons of radioactive waste onsite, and the lack of a workable evacuation plan, Riverkeeper has been working toward the permanent shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant."

Now with the breakdown of the Japanese reactors, Riverkeeper is calling for the immediate shutdown of Indian Point.  The group is not without its power brokers, with Robert Kennedy Jr. acting as their primary counsel.

Since I wrote that story in 2002, it was my greatest concern to protect myself and my family, arming myself with a bicycle (which I already had) and a trailer for young ones who can't ride.

As it turns out, any major explosion or breakdown at Indian Point will create gridlock of epic proportions all the way up and down the northeastern corridor.  The best way to flee will be by bicycle.

My advice is this: if you don't already have a bicycle--get one. Learn to ride, and make sure everyone in your family is suitably outfitted, either with a trailer for smaller children, tricycles or pedicabs for the older person in your family, and trailers for your belongings. Just think if it this way: if nothing happens at least you'll lose some weight.

We're not hysterical, crisis-driven, negativity forecasters: just realistic.

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