“CORTLANDT, NY — Activists who have long fought to have the Indian Point nuclear power plant shut-down are “cautiously optimistic” about a report from the New York Times that an agreement has been negotiated by New York State with the plant’s owners, Entergy.
According to the Times, the company would shut down Unit 2 in 2020 and Unit 3 in 2021. (Unit One, which did not meet earthquake standards, closed in 1974.) But the governor’s office isn’t confirming and Entergy isn’t responding to requests for comment.
“The Times article was a sorry piece of journalism. They didn’t have one fact that was right and the rest was just rumor,” said activist and Cortlandt resident Marilyn Elie. “Show me some facts, please. And quit saying that Indian Point furnishes 25 percent of the electricity for NYC and Westchester. It’s a blatant lie. How much is it really? 5 percent — 560 megawatts go to Con Ed.”
The news leaves activists in the same place they’ve always been, she said, still calling for the plant to shut down.
Elie said one angle of the supposed agreement she is concerned about is that state officials would drop their multi-front legal fight against Indian Point and Entergy — something they’ve been successful at.
“If they do that in return for a 2021 closing which could be re-negotiated, with what would the state renegotiate if they’ve already closed out all their big cards?” she asked.
On the other hand, reaction from Hudson River Sloop Clearwater was “cautiously optimistic. ” Citing dangers to public health and safety and ecological damage to the Hudson River, the environmental nonprofit based in Beacon has long pushed for the plant’s closure.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it still leaves us in danger for three to four more years. Indian Point has had an abysmal history of emergency shutdown, radioactive leaks, equipment failures, transformer explosions, degraded bolts inside the reactor core, and other problems. Without a viable evacuation plan, if something should go wrong between now and then,” said Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, “the 20 million people that live or work within 50 miles of the plant and beyond remain in danger.”
Clearwater is also calling for a comprehensive plan to ensure safe decommissioning that is funded by Entergy, and doesn’t end up becoming a burden to ratepayers or taxpayers.
Entergy has asked the state to turn over the Indian Point decommissioning fund first set up by the state power authority, which contained about $683 million at the end of 2015.
Green said that recently a phase out plan was negotiated for Diablo Canyon, the last operating nuclear plant in California, scheduled to close in 6 years. Their transition plan includes replacing the aging nuclear facility with 100 percent renewable energy, while retaining the most valuable workers, and retraining those who are not as needed after closure for jobs in the renewable energy industry.
“The good news is that they have agreed to move old (but still highly radioactive) fuel rods from the severely overcrowded fuel pools, to safer dry-cask storage, to make long-overdue repairs, and to allow more inspections and better oversight” Greene added.”
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