"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
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:
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.
- NY Times: “It Could Happen Here”
- Intro to nuclear power
- What is the future of nuclear power in this country?
- The Nukes of Hazard
- CNN opinion: Japan and future of U.S. nuclear power, “The U.S. government and nuclear industry must take new actions to ensure that nuclear power is safe for the American public.”