A former supervisor at the Indian Point nuclear power plant was arrested Tuesday for allegedly falsifying records in an effort to keep the plant from having to shut down. It's just the latest headache for owner Entergy Corporation, which has been trying since 2007 to get the plant's two 40-year-old reactors relicensed.
According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Daniel Wilson, a 57-year-old Walden resident, was the plant's chemistry manager from 2007 through 2012. Among his jobs was ensuring fuel for the plant's back-up diesel generators met federal particulate standards. Such generators turn on in an emergency and can ensure nuclear material doesn't melt down. Clean fuel is necessary for the generators to operate effectively.
But in 2011 the fuel failed to meet federal standards, according to the complaint against Wilson. Instead of fixing the problem, he allegedly falsified testing data to make it seem like the issue was resolved.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission became aware of the false data and investigated. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York charged Wilson on Tuesday with deliberate misconduct and making false statements. Wilson admitted under oath to fabricating data, according to the complaint.
Jerry Nappi, a spokesman for Entergy, said it was Indian Point employees who first suspected wrongdoing and notified the NRC.
Even though the fuel did not meet federal standards, the generators would still have worked and the public was never in any danger, said Diane Screnci, a NRC spokeswoman.
Despite those assurances, Tuesday's arrest provided more fuel to opponents of Indian Point, which is about 35 miles from Times Square.
"These are very serious allegations and there is really no margin for error when it comes to operating a nuclear plant," said Phillip Musegaas, a program director for environmental group Riverkeeper.
Indian Point replaced the diesel fuel in the plant's reserve tank in December 2012, according to the complaint.