“Entergy Corp. on Friday defended its nuclear plants outside New York City as safe and well-operated after a Connecticut money manager earlier this week joined environmentalists in calling for the closure of the plants.
Paul Tudor Jones, a hedge fund manager based in Greenwich, Conn., told analysts and investors at the New York Mercantile Exchange that the two Indian Point reactors, which are 33 miles north of New York City, face too great a threat of a terrorist attack.
He said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks showed that the threat to these facilities, which are near 20 million people in the New York City region, is too great. He said an attack might spread radiation and “take out the financial capital of the U.S.”
Jones manages $8 billion through his Tudor Investment Corp., which uses techniques such as buying and shorting stocks to enhance returns.
He said the federal government should immediately assume responsibility for security at Indian Point and that spent fuel at the facility should be moved to “hardened” storage bunkers. He called for the plants to be closed in five years.
The steps he advocates correspond with those of Riverkeeper Inc., a Garrison, N.Y., environmental group that is campaigning to close the plants.
Jones’ financial support of Riverkeeper is termed significant. “We are going to be able to gear up this campaign” because of his financing, said Robert Kennedy Jr., senior counsel for Riverkeeper.
Alex Matthiesen, Riverkeeper’s executive director, said support among money managers is growing. He and Kennedy declined to say how much Jones and other Wall Street supporters have donated or promised to the organization.
Among its supporters is Louis Bacon, chairman of Moore Capital Management Inc. His spokesman said there is no organized effort by the hedge fund community regarding Indian Point but that managers had reached the same conclusion individually. Moore also has about $8 billion under management.
Entergy, until recently Louisiana’s only Fortune 500 company, has expanded its nuclear power holdings in recent years. Although nuclear power has long been opposed by some environmentalists, opposition from the financial community is rare.
Arthur Wiese, vice president of corporate communications for Entergy in New Orleans, said the utility does not see this as a move by the financial community to join forces with the environmentalists. He said Jones is a known supporter of Riverkeeper and has hosted at least one of its fund-raisers.
Wiese added that Riverkeeper has not provided the names of other financial supporters.
“We feel these plants at Indian Point are absolutely secure, operated very safely and the electricity they produce is essentially irreplaceable and extremely important to the economy of New York City and southern New York and the whole Northeast,” he said. “We think the plants will continue to operate for many years.”
Any decision to close a nuclear plant would be made by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which licenses and regulates the plants. While the commission has temporarily shut plants for safety problems, it has never permanently closed one.
Entergy operates 10 nuclear plants, five in the Southern states where its core operations are located and five in the Northeast. The utility began buying the plants in the Northeast in 1999 as it moved to become one of the largest nuclear plant operators in the country.
Entergy purchased Indian Point 3 in Buchanan, N.Y., in 2000, and the nearby Indian Point 2 in 2001, just days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Wiese said this week the utility has hired the security consulting firm of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani but that the move was not related to the financial manager’s opposition. He said the firm would handle emergency planning and be a consultant on security to all of Entergy’s Northeast plants.
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Bloomberg News contributed to this report.“
This article originally appeared in the New Orleans Times Picayune