Indian Point boss laughs off nuclear safety threat with quotes from alcohol-and-sex comedy “The Hangover”

Slide 2 of nuclear safety presentation from Entergy CEO Wayne Leonard

Energy Hangover

Yes, Leonard is the winner of this month’s “What Were They Thinking” Award:

The clueless CEO in charge of the upstate Indian Point nuclear plant had a stunning meltdown in judgment when he kicked off an investor meeting by displaying the quote from the movie “The Hangover,” “By the way, we’re all gonna die!”

In a bonehead attempt to ease fears about potential disaster, Wayne Leonard, the boss at New Orleans-based energy conglomerate Entergy, littered his 111-page presentation with pictures and lines from the hit 2009 movie.

The slides, making up the first five pages and then randomly scattered throughout, included the characters discussing how to pronounce “retard” and the question, “Would you please put some pants on? I feel weird having to ask you twice.”

The slug from the Daily News piece says it all:  nuclear_knucklehead.

In case you think that U.S. nuclear safety concerns in general — and at Entergy in particular — are a laughing matter, read the Sunday NYT piece, “Nuclear Agency Is Criticized as Too Close to Its Industry” and the new ProPublica expos©, “NRC Waives Enforcement of Fire Rules at Nuclear Plants,” excerpted below.

In case you think Entergy’s Leonard didn’t pull a Charlie Sheen — a guy who knows his way around a Vegas hangover — go through the full PPT yourself.  This slide in particular has that Sheen sheen to it:

Entergy Retard

Even the centrist Politico thought thought that opening with the quote “By the way, we’re all gonna die,” simply “may not have been the best message to precede the several well-constructed illustrations of the ill-fated Japanese reactors and the frayed nerves over the nuclear plant 35 miles from New York City.”

The irony of quoting the “The Hangover” at length in a presentation on nuclear safety isn’t totally lost on the Politico:

For the uninitiated, the alcohol-themed 2009 comedy features a simple Las Vegas bachelor party for four friends unfolds into a series of unmitigated disasters that are beyond their control.

Hmm.  Where have I heard about a series of unmitigated disaster that are beyond their control recently….?

But it does appear from the Daily News piece that the irony may be lost on Leonard:

It’s a comedy of how one things leads to another when you lose control of what’s taking place,” Leonard said of the movie, about a bachelor party in Las Vegas that careens wildly out of control.

Yeah, nothing to do with nuclear accidents….

He also dismissed the risks of nuclear energy by offering a bizarre array of more probable ways to die, including fireworks, legal execution, bee stings and lightning.

Of course the New York Daily News isn’t so amused given that it is based 35 miles from Indian Point.

Here’s ProPublica’s on Indian Point:

Fire exemptions are common. In a 2008 report, the GAO found that NRC had issued more than 900. ProPublica examined the agency’s current list of exemptions and counted nearly 700 at 56 reactors, most dating to the 1980s. Three plants with six operating reactors also have pending exemption requests or are planning to submit one.

Among the most controversial exemptions is at the Indian Point Nuclear Plant, 24 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River.

In 2007, the NRC granted an exemption to Indian Point, saying it was safe for certain cables to be protected with a fire barrier rated to last 24 minutes rather than the one hour required under NRC’s fire rules.

Opponents sued the following year, claiming that NRC’s analysis was inadequate and that the agency had violated its procedures. Federal district and appeals courts dismissed the suit on procedural grounds and did not examine the underlying safety technical issues.

“There is an incredible depth of fire protection at this site,” said Jerri Nappi, a spokesman for the plant’s owner, Entergy. “If the NRC believes the plant was not safe, they would shut it down.”

That is the thrust of Leonard’s Hangover-fueled PPT:  It can’t happen here.

Separately, Entergy has asked NRC for another exemption that identifies 33 instances in which Indian Point fails to meet fire rules. Nappi said the issue involves longstanding work-arounds that operators would perform outside the control room in the event of a fire.

The request has come under fire from New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. In a petition asking NRC to enforce its rules, Schneiderman said Indian Point does not meet requirements for protecting cables or installing fire detectors in 275 areas.

In an interview, Schneiderman called the situation “ludicrous.”

“It’s pretty hard to argue that the NRC should not enforce its own rules,” he said, “or that they should grant exemption after exemption.”

And here’s the NYT on another Entergy plant:

In recent years, the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vt., has had several serious operational problems.

Situated on the banks of the Connecticut River, the 39-year-old Vermont Yankee, whose reactor is similar in design to the stricken plant in Japan, suffered the partial collapse of a cooling tower in 2007. In January 2010, the plant’s operator, Entergy, discovered that nearby soil and groundwater had been contaminated by radioactive tritium, which had apparently leaked from underground piping. Just months before, the company assured state lawmakers that no such piping existed at the plant.

The Vermont Senate, concerned about the problems, voted overwhelmingly last year to prevent the plant from operating beyond the scheduled expiration of its license on March 21, 2012 “” invoking a 2006 state law, unique to Vermont, that requires legislative approval for continued operations.

But one day before the quake and tsunami that set Japan’s crisis in motion, the N.R.C. approved Vermont Yankee’s bid for license renewal “” just as it has for 62 other plants so far. Its fate is now the subject of a federal lawsuit.

“How does a place like that get a license renewal?” Mr. Lochbaum said. “Because they asked for one. Absent dead bodies, nothing seems to deter the N.R.C. from sustaining reactor operation.”

Indeed, no renewal application has been turned down by the agency since the first one was granted in 2000, although some have been sent back for more work before winning approval.

If anyone should be getting a hangover, it’s the people who live near any plant overseen by Entergy and its CEO.

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13 Responses to Indian Point boss laughs off nuclear safety threat with quotes from alcohol-and-sex comedy “The Hangover”

  1. catman306 says:

    He’ll probably get his life back.

  2. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You’d call it hubris, but it really doesn’t rise to the level of tragedy. It is just invincible ignorance, smug self-satisfaction and ‘going along to get along’. One consequence of the radically hierarchical and totalitarian nature of capitalist enterprise, where, in the fashion of the Murdochcracy or the Kochtopus, the ‘great Man’ at the top makes all the decisions, and his myriad minions jump to attention to obey- or else- is that capitalism is populated by complacent, compliant, ‘Yes-Men’. Not ‘Mad Men’, as they don’t really rise to the level of mental derangement. Not ‘tragic heroes’ but wannabe stand-up comics, sucking up the soma of the rabble’s raucous, thoughtless, merriment. Nothing but obedient, unquestioning, robopaths. This poor drone probably thought that he was ‘being funny’, such a requirement these days in the culture of short-term memory loss and existential amnesia. Keep ’em laughing, and they won’t notice the dread glow on the horizon, the birds falling dead from the sky, or the black rain tumbling down outside.

  3. Alex 77 says:

    …cue standard Republican non-apology apology…”I regret if anyone was offended or disturbed by the content of our presentation…”

  4. Cugel says:

    Had my belief not been beggared long ago, this would have done it. It’s a brilliant cherry-pick for the next time someone crticises your messaging.

    Great post again. I don’t know how I’d get by without Climate Progress.

  5. Alex 77 says:

    Mulga…you really should have a blog of your own…your writing reminds me of that from Driftglass, (google it), with a climate focus. It fires me up.

  6. Mark L says:

    Spot-on comment, Mulga!

  7. FS says:

    This is really sad. If this would get proper placement in the media, I guess there would be a demo organised within hours… Sure the millions of people living in NY do care about the probabilities on how they are going to die.

  8. Richard Brenne says:

    Peasants worked to enrich their King, a thousand years later their CEO.

  9. Joan Savage says:

    The Daily News missed that J. Wayne Leonard is CEO of all Entergy, not just the Indian Point Nuclear Plant.

  10. Joan Savage says:

    My bad. Daily News got it right later on, they just did a local-interest lead-in.

    I’m so preoccupied with the experience of techs who work in nuclear that I was stuck on what the staff at the Indian Point Power Plant must be thinking about their CEO, and about fire safety.

    I hope I get this right. There are three nuclear power plants downstream of the crest of the Mississippi flood: Grand Gulf (near Vicksburg MS), River Bend (near Baton Rouge LA) and Waterford (near New Orleans LA).

    The US Energy Information page shows all three are operated by Entergy.
    does not have an emergency evacuation plan posted on its webpage.

    And, Mulga..thank you for yet another timely revival of a succinct word, this time, robopaths.
    Blog on!

  11. Vic says:

     In an analysis to be published in a future issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE, Derek Abbott, Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Adelaide in Australia, has concluded that nuclear power cannot be globally scaled to supply the world’s energy needs for numerous reasons.

    He estimates that to supply the current global energy consumption of 15 TW with nuclear only, we would need about 15,000 nuclear reactors. In his analysis, Abbott explores the consequences of building, operating, and decommissioning 15,000 reactors on the Earth, looking at factors such as the amount of land required, radioactive waste, accident rate, risk of proliferation into weapons, uranium abundance and extraction, and the exotic metals used to build the reactors themselves.

    “The dream of a utopia where the world is powered off fission or fusion reactors is simply unattainable. Even a supply of as little as 1 TW stretches resources considerably.”

    Accident rate: To date, there have been 11 nuclear accidents at the level of a full or partial core-melt. Considering that these 11 accidents occurred during a cumulated total of 14,000 reactor-years of nuclear operations, scaling up to 15,000 reactors would mean we would have a major accident somewhere in the world every month. 

  12. catman306 says:

    Vic, thanks for this comment and link. Like coal, nukes are another ‘dead man walking’.

  13. catman306 says:

    I went to the source for a definition:

    Robopaths – People as Machines (1972)
    by Lewis Yablonsky
    4.33 · rating details · 3 ratings · 1 review
    Yablonsky coins & explains the concept of the “robopath” in this sociology bk. On the back cover blurb is written: “The robopaths are the people who pull the triggers at My Lai, Kent State, and Attica, make policy in Washington, and live next door. Dehumanized by regimentation, bureaucratization, and indiscriminate violence, they are growing more numerous in today’s society.”

    Yes, Mulga’s comments are always appreciated. More please.