Indian Point’s 100% Replacement Energy in Place Now – to Power the Bronx and All of New York City

 [The following opinion article is a rebuttal to one posted by Frank Fraley that posted on February 4, 2016 in the Norwood News. ]

(Op-Ed) Indian Point’s 100% Replacement Energy in Place Now – to Power the Bronx and All of New York City

By CATHERINE SKOPIC

We applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo’s support for the closure of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. As he has clearly stated there is no evacuation plan and it is too close to New York City. No need to worry. New York City does not need Indian Point to keep our lights on.

New York State energy regulators have already evaluated any potential reliability issues that could occur when Indian Point is closed and created a plan to ensure they are addressed: the Indian Point Replacement Contingency Plan is already being implemented by Con Edison and the New York Power Authority.*(Nuclear Information and Resource Service http://www.nirs.org)

To give you a little more of the specifics, lest you have any question or have read previous false reports, Indian Point reactors can generate a total of 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to light 130 million household light bulbs. The plan addresses a possible gap of just 1,450 MW when Indian Point shuts down, and the following outlines the measures being implemented to reduce this gap to zero:

  1. A new 660 MW power line from NJ to NYC, already operational
  2. 600 MW in electric transmission upgrades, now being installed
  3. 185 MW of energy efficiency, demand response, and energy storage * (NIRS)

So, not only the Bronx with all its growing electricity needs, but all five boroughs of New York City will have their energy demands met when Indian Point closes. You may recall that on May 9, 2015, there was a transmission fire at Indian Point – (the third in eight years) – yet not one person’s lights went out in New York City.

There are many such examples one could cite showing that we are not dependent upon Indian Point for our electricity.

I’d like to make four points in this brief Op-Ed. The first I’ve already made:

1) Indian point is not needed.

2) Indian Point is dangerous and becomes more so with each passing day. Reactor #2 – license expired in 2013; and reactor #3 – license expired December 12, 2015; so both reactors are operating without a license. In addition to the 3 transformer fires, the spent fuel pools are leaking contaminated water into the Hudson River and ground water. Just this past week-end, February 6, 2016, tritium leaks were reported, and now, the leak is now at 14,000,000 pCi/l – 700 times worse than the safe drinking water limit and more than 10 times higher than a year ago. Perhaps what is even more disturbing than this tritium leak, is the response – or lack thereof – from those responsible and their not having yet stopped this dangerous leak. And remember, Indian Point sits at the center of our water shed.

Indian Point takes in 2.5 billion gallons of water daily from the Hudson River- killing fish during intake – to circulate through and cool the plant and then returns it to the Hudson – but now at 110° F – too hot for most fish eggs, fish and aquatic life. The DEC will not grant IP a water permit because of this. Entergy, the company that owns and operates Indian Point could build cooling towers or stop operation during the months the fish are spawning but they refuse to do so. They are required to use the most up-to-date operational technology and yet have not.

Roughly 300,000 people live within 10 miles of Indian Point and 20 million people live and/or work within 50 miles of Indian Point. For comparison, after Fukushima, our government warned that all Americans in Japan should evacuate Fukushima by at least 50 miles. Where does that leave us here in NYC that live within 50 miles of Indian Point – and the Bronx is even closer, about 25 miles? (And for anyone who has ever tried to drive out of NYC on a Friday, you know there is no possible evacuation route for millions of people.)

To make matters worse, Indian Point was built on two fault lines; and there is a gas pipeline running under IP and a 42″ gas pipeline – AIM (Algonquin Incremental Market) – project planned to go in within 100′ of IP, whose turn-off valve would be in Texas. It is difficult to comprehend that anyone – let alone our federal agencies – could plan for, allow and implement such obvious, egregious dangers, putting us all at risk!

The two spent fuel pools are 5 times more crowded than they were designed for; and, were there to be a further breach of the protective water in one or both of these pools – something like seismic activity that might crack the walls of the pools, draining, leaving the spent fuel rods – already in too close proximity to each other – uncovered, there could be spontaneous combustion. Were this to happen, it could be worse than a melt-down. This is a lot of if’s – but not outside the realm of possibility.

The NRC requires 1-hour fire-rated cables for safety – actually the insulation. Entergy applied for an exemption to this requirement and asked for 24-minute fire-rated cables – less than half the requirement – and the NRC granted this exemption. Entergy has over 100 such exemptions – most of them for cutting costs – cutting safety as a result.

More examples could be given of Indian Point’s dangers; but I think you get the picture.

3) “Entergy’s Myths.” Entergy, the company that owns and operates Indian Point, has been putting forth some, shall we say, “untruths.” I call them “Entergy Myths.” “Nuclear power is clean and green.” Nothing could be further from the truth. From extraction to delivery, the process of uranium mining causes tons of CO2 to enter our atmosphere, to say nothing of how it poisons people, plants, animals and the environment for thousands of years. During certain processes, radiation is released from the nuclear power plant. In case you aren’t aware, radiation can cause cancer. Google “Sacramento Rancho Seco,” and you will read about this nuclear power plant in California that had to be shut down before its scheduled closure because of multiple problems.

As a result, scientists then had more than a 20 – year period to study the cancer rates of the population within proximity of this plant before, during operation and 20 years after its closure. They discovered a decrease in some 40 types of cancer after the plant was closed – 17 of them were significant, especially for children, women and Hispanics.

Another “Entergy Myth” is that “There will be more asthma if Indian Point is closed.” The opposite is true – there will be LESS asthma because not only will the plant be closed, the replacement power is renewable, clean energy. This will allow asthma and other lung-related diseases to decrease and medical costs to be reduced over the short and long term.

“We have layers of Safety at Indian Point” – one of the easiest myths to prove false with all the safety exemptions Entergy has requested over the years, all the accidents, all the near misses, all the corners being cut to save costs, all the safety measures not being taken, all the workers laid off, the over-crowded leaking spent fuel pools, all the close calls, the fact that the actual 40-year old construction materials of the plant are deteriorating and on and on – Indian Point is NOT safe!

Of all the nuclear power plants Entergy owns, Indian Point is the only plant making money for them – said to be $1,000,000.00 dollars a day profit. Can you wonder why they are fighting so hard to keep it open no matter how much it endangers us?

4) For the first time ever, the New York City Council introduced a resolution to close Indian Point – Int. 0694-2015. If you see any truth in this article or research some or all of what I have said and find it to be true, share this with your family, friends, neighbors and call your New York City Council Member and ask her/him to sign Resolution 0694 if they haven’t and thank them, if they have. We need 16 more signatures for a veto-proof resolution. If passed, this would not mean that Indian Point would instantly close – it would mean that Entergy knows that the people of New York City have said, “ENOUGH! We know the truth! We want this aging, 40-year old, dangerous plant closed.” And that would surely help get us closer to the actual closure of Indian Point!

Catherine Skopic is the Chair of the Legislative Committee of Shut Down Indian Point Now and Co-Chair of the Legislative & Executive Action Committee of The People’s Climate Movement-New York. 

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