New York Nuke Drill Includes Plane Crash Into Reactor
When New York state and federal
officials staged a disaster drill at the Indian Point nuclear power
plant, the scenario Wednesday included the crash of an aircraft
into the plant's containment building.
The drill began when Connecticut State Police reported pulling
over a car with two men of Middle Eastern descent. A search of the
car revealed automatic weapons and literature regarding the Indian
Point plant. In their roles according to the drill, state police
officers notified federal officials, who in turn told the plant's
owners the threat was a credible one. They said there might be an
aerial attack on the way and ordered the plant to shut down.
Within hours, the scenario called for an airplane to fly into
the plant and knock out a critical power relay. That caused a pump
inside the nuclear power generation facility to fail and threatened
a reactor-core meltdown.
Eventually, those participating in the simulation "evacuated"
more than 100,000 Westchester County (NY) residents from areas near
the plant and ordered everyone to take their iodine pills.
"Every event is different," he told the Westchester
Journal-News. "Every drill is different, and you can't predict how
everybody is going to respond when a real event occurs," said
former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, on hand to
assess the drill. "But the key to handling any event is planning,
practicing and preparing. Based on what I've seen, this is probably
one of the most secure plants I've ever seen."
But the drill was abruptly stopped before reaching conclusion.
In the scenario, there was no response to the potential for a
meltdown and the traffic almost sure to snarl roadways for hours
was never assessed.
"What good was any of this?" asked Susan Tolchin, chief adviser
to Westchester County Chief Executive Andrew Spano, at the
conclusion of the event. "We wanted the drill to test a
fast-breaking scenario. Not only did we not get a (radiation)
release, we only got a slow-breaking development that gave plenty
of time for evacuation, which only showed what they wanted to show,
that we can evacuate small numbers at a time. (Spano's) position
has not changed — he wants the plant closed."
But at least they broached the subject, said Senator Hillary
Rodham Clinton (D-NY), whose Chappaqua home is just 15 miles from
the Indian River plant. "It is vital that the threat assumptions
used in testing and improving Indian Point security reflect the
realities of the post-9/11 world, so mock drills that include a
terrorism scenario such as today's exercise are crucial to that