Indian Point: Unnecessarily risky or indispensible?

| 08 Jul 2013 | 03:10

Why take the risk?

Another safety assessment of the Indian Point nuclear power plant has gone by and it’s business as usual, with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rubber stamping its approval and turning a blind eye to serious safety hazards existing at these aging nuclear reactors. This year, the agency stated that the plant “operated in a manner that preserved public health and safety” and noted it would reduce the number of resident NRC inspectors at the plant from four to three.

With an evacuation plan that the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently called inadequate to protect people within the 10-mile evacuation zone, and vulnerable and overfilled fuel pools which concentrate an enormous amount of radioactivity in close proximity to the most densely populated area in the country, this is a time for intensifying, rather than weakening safety and preparedness measures at Indian Point.

The NRC won’t allow the issues of emergency preparedness and spent nuclear fuel storage into the relicensing hearings for the plant, yet will enter unchartered territory and allow one of its reactors to operate without a license come this September, proving once again that the agency is more committed to protecting the interests of industry than the public’s safety.

The undercurrent of NRC’s complicity is the constant threat delivered by the plant’s operators that the lights will go off if Indian Point shuts down. The truth is that we don’t need the power Indian Point provides. A report by Synapse Energy Consultants provides a detailed roadmap for fully and affordably replacing the aging nuclear facility’s 2000 megawatts using entirely clean sources.

The risks of Indian Point are well known and the benefits of closing it are equally clear: dramatically reduced accident risk, and transitioning New York to a clean energy future. Closing Indian Point is the common sense choice.

Paul Gallay, president, Hudson Riverkeeper; Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River program director, Riverkeeper