Indian Point Nuclear Plant Should Be Shuttered: Environmentalists

A new report commissioned by the National Resources Defense Council and Riverkeeper stated that there are alternative energy resources available to replace Indian Point should the Nuclear Regulatory Commission not renew the facility’s license.

It also said that neither the city’s nor the state’s "electricity reliability would be jeopardized."

Ashok Gupta, director of Energy Policy for the NRDC, said a number of alternative energy initiatives are underway in the New York. The question, Gupta said, is how to bring them together. "How do we assemble that diverse portfolio that will include a combination of wind and natural gas and solar and efficiency? And how doe we bring some of these resources that are hard to get to the New York City downstate market?"

But Arthur "Jerry" Kremer, chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance took issue with the report’s findings, saying that Indian Point is vital to New York’s economy. "To facilitate economic growth, meet the challenges of more businesses and people in our region, and to address air quality issues, Indian Point’s reliable, competitively priced, and for all intents and purposes non-emitting power will be even more important to the region in the future that it is today," Kremer said.

Energy Nuclear, Indian Point’s owner, is seeking a 20 year extension for the reactor’s licenses which is up in 2015. It’s a move that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo opposes.

In a related report released Monday, the NRDC said that an accident at the Indian Point nuclear power plant could cause a catastrophe worse than the disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

The analysis of the costs and consequences of an accident at the plant in Buchanan, New York, such as an earthquake causing a rupture of its spent fuel pools could create a plume with 17 times more radiation than was released at Chernobyl.

“It would require the evacuation of all 8.5 million people in New York City and it would make much of New York permanently uninhabitable,” said Robert Kennedy, Jr., an attorney for NRDC and Riverkeeper.

But Indian Point spokesman Jerry Nappi said, it wasn’t the earthquake that caused the Fukushima disaster, but the tsunami that followed. "We’re not susceptible to a 9.0 earthquake in this region, and we’re not susceptible to a tsunami, being about 40 miles north of New York Harbor on the Hudson River," Nappi said.