Billboard on Route 202 that has drawn attention once again to the future of Indian Point.

North County News
A group dedicated to closing and decommissioning the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan has brought new attention to its cause.

A billboard was recently erected off Route 202 in Cortlandt by WestCAN, one of several environmental, health and public policy organizations that formed the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The billboard, which costs about $700 a month and will be in place for at least six months, urges passersby to oppose any efforts by Entergy to have the controversial nuclear plants relicensed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

“The community surrounding the Indian Point nuclear power plant has repeatedly shown its desire for the Indian Point nuclear power plants to be closed,” said Mark Jacobs, a local activist with WestCan.

“This billboard brings essential information to area residents: namely that Entergy plans to run these plants for 20 years longer than its original license (which was for 30 years),” Jacobs said. “We expect citizens’ outrage to be loud and clear when they realize Entergy wants to risk their lives by keeping an old, run-down plant operating well past the nuclear plant’s planned lifetime.”

The current license for the Indian Point 2 reactor expires in 2013, with the license for Indian Point 3 expiring in 2015.

Entergy must apply for a new license from the NRC at least five years prior to the current licenses expiring, which has led some to speculate the company may apply sooner.

In fact, Entergy has already reserved a slot with the NRC this summer, which may or may not be to discuss Indian Point’s future operation, since they also own eight other nuclear plants throughout the country.

Licenses for two of those plants, Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim Nuclear in Massachusetts, both expire in 2012. The license for the James Fitzpatrick plant expires in 2014.

Several lawmakers, including Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano and County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz (D/Somers), have filed papers with the NRC in an attempt to change the relicensing requirements.

Spano told North County News this week he has been negotiating with Entergy to have the company consider providing an alternative form of energy to the region.

“It’s in their best interests to make a deal,” Spano said. “You don’t just close a nuclear plant. It will take three to five years to replace the energy.”

Approximately 20 million people live within 50 miles of the Indian Point plants.

Entergy spokesman Jim Steets scoffed at the importance of the billboard, which he said he hadn’t seen yet.

“They’ve done this before. We’re just not that fazed by it,” he said yesterday (Tuesday). “We don’t think people are going to pay attention to the sign. Our feeling is that people are going to dislike it. The whole issue of Indian Point has been beat to death. People have run out of interest, and the sign is funded by people with extremist views.”