Getting Back to Indian Point

By Jeffrey Page

Indian Point

Indian Point

I had conveniently forgotten to think about Indian Point and its attendant horrors, but as always seems to happen when you’re in a state of denial, the truth taps you on the shoulder and howls in your ear.

Several days ago I was at breakfast with some friends, a regular Friday event. I don’t recall what led to talk about Indian Point, but all of sudden there it was, the silent monstrosity that sits on the banks of the Hudson seeming to bide its time. I think everyone at the table harbored a fear that one of these days, Indian Point will do the unimaginable.

It will explode, or it will leak, or it will send plumes of radioactive smoke into the sky and force millions of people to wait to see where it comes down. Or it will be visited by people who despise us and it will fail to stop them from making off with material to make dirty bombs.

There seems to be enough radioactive waste stored at Indian Point to make more than a few such bombs. In fact, Riverkeeper estimates that Indian Point now holds about 1,500 tons of waste material – with no place to dispose of it permanently.

I have to wonder about security at Indian Point. A couple of years ago, a photographer and I chugged up the Hudson to do a story on sailing the river and the Erie Barge Canal. We were in mid-river as we passed Indian Point. My friend attached a very long lens to one of his cameras and started shooting pictures of the plant. Then the two of us waved.

Response from the ever vigilant Indian Point?

There was no response. No federal agents, no armed guards in fast boats, no loud warning buzzers played over big amplifiers.

If all this is not enough for the feds to reject the application by Entergy – the Indian Point operator – for a 20-year extension on its operating license, there is the matter of the size of the population near Indian Point. There’s another problem: Entergy’s evacuation plan is utter nonsense.

On a map, draw a circle with a 50-mile radius around Indian Point, step back and understand that roughly 20 million people are in that circle. People in Goshen, Middletown, Newburgh, the mid-Hudson, North Jersey, etc. Let us not forget that there’s an important federal interest in taming Indian Point – its proximity to West Point, just five miles up the river.

And there’s the little matter of New York City. Indian Point is about 23 miles from Times Square.

The word “evacuation” should not be allowed when discussing Indian Point. Not when 20 million mostly panic-stricken people would be trying to leave the 78 square miles around the plant all at the same time.

You can’t evacuate an area when the evacuation routes are clogged. Ever notice what happens on Route 17 when two cars smack each other in Sloatsburg during the morning commute? The backup builds quickly and there’s no way out. And that’s just for a jam of a few hundred cars. Now picture that traffic knot with thousands upon thousands of cars trying to escape.

Indian Point needs to be taken more seriously by people like me – people who have managed not to think much about it lately. It needs to be always in the public consciousness. Remember, most of us never heard of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima until they blew.

And may I offer a piece of gratuitous advice for nuclear regulators: Before that license extension is considered, I suggest that the officers and directors of Entergy be required to move – with their spouses and their children – to Buchanan, N.Y., home of Indian Point.

I’m sure this has been suggested before. It’s time to suggest it again.

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3 Responses to “Getting Back to Indian Point”

  1. Steven Fleckenstein Says:

    Indian Point is certainly a significant concern for all residents in the Hudson Valley, but should it be replaced by natural gas fired power plants, steam rolled onto a public that doesn’t want them (I’m thinking CPV in Wawayanda), Supported by a governor who takes close to $100k in campaign contributions from CPV and the fracking industry, artificially made profitable by forced increases in electric rates, excessively long PILOTs offered by the IDA resulting in higher taxes on residents to make up for the shortfall, turning once green farmland and wetlands to brownfields… and to top it all off built on land adjacent to a possible earthquake fault line. Blessed by the goernment agencies that are supposed to protect us. Greed is good.

  2. Fran Cox Says:

    Powerless about a power plant! Thanks for letting me know

  3. Randy Hurst Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Steve Fleckenstein. He nails it as do you, Jeff, about Indian Point. Both of these power generation plants “suck” to put it bluntly, and, they, as well as the proposed Cricket Valley Energy Center in Dover, Dutchess County, are all unnecessary. Check out all of the transmission upgrades proposed to carry cheaper, cleaner upstate and Canadian power to the Lower Hudson Valley now under review at the NY PSC and Dr. Mark Jacobson’s et al Solutions Project, which demonstrates that we can begin the transition NOW to Wind, Water, Solar and Geothermal to meet ALL OF OUR ENERGY NEEDS!

    CPV will not only cause a NEEDLESS dependency of at least 30 years or more on Hydrofracked Marcellus and Utica Shale Gases and other unnatural and un-researched gases, but it will emit methane gases, even more potent a global warmer than CO2, along with 2.2 million tons of other toxic, carcinogenic VOC’s and other contaminants into the already Ozone non-compliant atmosphere of Orange and lands where the winds carry the emissions; its construction and operation, as well as all of the necessary infrastructure to fuel it, will be SUBSIDIZED by taxpayers and ratepayers throughout the Hudson Valley. This is insane and obscene when we think of our children’s and grandchildren’s future.

    Bottom line! Join the fight to oppose the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s New Capacity Zone, which is one of the governmental methods of forcing us to subsidize these power plants and also join the fight to oppose the encroachment of shale gas infrastructure development/construction, like the Minisink Compressor Station and the Millennium, NY Marc Connector and Columbia pipelines to cite just three; there are many more. Google pipelines.

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