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Indian Point Sirens Will Be Tested On May 31st

Indian Point Sirens Will Be Tested On May 31st

For more information, please contact The Ahearne Law Firm, PLLC at (845) 986-2777 for an initial consultation and case evaluation.

A full-volume test of the Hudson Valley’s Indian Point Energy Center siren system will be conducted between 10:00 and 11:00 AM on Wednesday, May 31st throughout the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone around Indian Point, including the sirens in Orange County. During this full-system activation test, sirens will sound simultaneously for four minutes. The sirens will sound at full-volume for the entire duration of the test. No action on the part of the public is necessary or required for this drill. If the sirens were sounded during an actual emergency, residents would listen to an Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio or television station for information and instructions about any action to be taken. Sounding the sirens is a signal for residents to listen to broadcasts for important information. It is not a signal to evacuate. The Indian Point Energy Center, located in Buchanan, New York, is a nuclear powered electric generating facility on the east bank of the Hudson River in Westchester County, close to portions of Rockland, Putnam, and Orange counties. In Orange County, that includes portions of the towns of Highlands, Tuxedo and Woodbury.

Nuclear Energy Liability & Insurance

Nuclear power plant owners in the United States are required by law to have liability insurance in place that covers any individuals and businesses located in the affected area who suffer damages in the event of a nuclear accident. A program for compensating the public for damage and injury caused by a commercial nuclear accident in the United States exists under the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act. First passed by Congress in 1957 and since renewed (in 2005, the act was extended through 2025 via the Energy Policy Act), the act governs liability-related issues for all non-military nuclear facilities constructed in the United States before 2026. The main purpose of the Act is to partially compensate the nuclear industry against liability claims arising from nuclear incidents while still ensuring compensation coverage for the general public.

The nuclear energy industry’s no fault-type liability insurance consists of two tiers:

  • The first tier provides $450 million in liability insurance coverage per reactor —the maximum amount available through private insurers. This coverage is provided by insurance pools, which are groups of insurance companies pledging assets that enable them to provide much higher coverage than an individual company could offer. Utilities pay an annual insurance premium for each reactor site. As of 2014, the average annual premium for a single-unit reactor site was $860,000.
  • If the first tier funds are not sufficient to cover claims arising from an accident, a second tier of financial protection applies. This tier offers additional liability insurance coverage up to $13.2 billion per incident. This amount is adjusted periodically for inflation, most recently in 2013. All operating nuclear reactors in the United States participate in the second-tier financial protection program. After a reactor incident, every plant would be required to pay a premium equal to its proportionate share of the excess loss, up to a maximum of $121.3 million per reactor per accident. This can increase to $127.3 million if a 5 percent surcharge to cover legal costs is included.

Congress can modify or increase the insurance liability coverage limits at any time through legislation. If the entire insurance pool is exhausted, responding organizations like state and local governments can petition Congress for additional disaster relief under provisions of the Price-Anderson Act.

Standard property/casualty insurance policies issued in the United States exclude coverage for property damage and personal injury caused by nuclear accidents, and all claims are handled through the nuclear power plant operator. Under Price-Anderson, claims can be for any nuclear-related incident including those that result from theft, sabotage, transporting or storing nuclear fuel or waste and the operation of nuclear reactors. Claims covered include bodily injury, sickness, disease resulting in death, and property damage and loss, as well as reasonable living expenses for individuals who are evacuated from an affected area.

Since Price-Anderson was enacted, the 1979 Three-Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant accident in Middletown, Pennsylvania has been the only major accident involving large scale liability payments to the public. Following the Three-Mile Island accident, insurance adjusters immediately advanced money to evacuated families to cover their living expenses, and reimbursed more than 600 individuals and families for lost wages. A class action lawsuit for economic loss was filed later in federal court on behalf of the residents who lived near the site of the power plant. Insurers paid approximately $71 million in liability claims and litigation costs associated with the accident. The payments all came from the primary tier of coverage ($140 million per reactor at the time). In addition to the liability payments to the public under the Price-Anderson Act, $300 million was paid by a pool of insurers to the operator of the damaged nuclear power plant under its property insurance policy.

For more information, including a list of Emergency Alert System stations, you may refer to the Orange County Indian Point Emergency Guide or visit Orange County’s Department of Emergency Management at www.orangecountygov.com/dem.

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For more information, please contact The Ahearne Law Firm, PLLC at (845) 986-2777 for an initial consultation and case evaluation.


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