Common Misconceptions Indian Point and Fukushima
It can’t happen here. We can’t have a tsunami here or a 9.0 earthquake. The plant is high above the river and built on bedrock. It is absurd to make a comparison. Besides, the reactors at Fukushima were a different type than Indian Point.
No one is talking about tsunamis in New York or New Jersey or different types of reactors. That is not relevant. We are talking high level radioactive waste at Indian Point. More of it is stored there than there was in all of the spent fuel pools in Fukushima. This waste is stored in commercial buildings like K Mart, not in a hardened building like the reactor. The Union of Concerned Scientists recommends dry cask storage because the current system is so dangerous.
There have been a lot of advances in the field of seismology since the plant was built 40 years ago. Scientists at Lamont Dougherty Earth Institute are concerned enough to raise questions. The NRC studied the results of the recent Virginia earthquake and found the results much more severe than anticipated .Fukushima now has a 12 mile exclusion zone. Those who lived there wil never be able to go home again. It would be much larger here given the amount of spent fuel. Is it worth the risk to life, property and the environment?
I work there. (or my husband, son, grandson, nephew, neighbor works there). I live in the community and have raised my family here. I would not work at the plant if it was not safe. I would never put my family in jeopardy. Therefore the plant is safe.
People work at dangerous jobs all of the time. It does not mean that the workplace is safe only that they have chosen to accept or ignore the risk. Look at our firefighters and police officers or uranium miners for that matter. In the case of Indian Point it is more than a personal decision. Indian Point affects the lives and property of 21 million people in a 50 mile radius of the plant. We need to look at the scientific evidence and listen to impartial experts in a case like this. Not what the company tells its employees who have such a strong vested interest in the status quo.
There is time for people to plan ahead and Local 1-2 representatives have stated that members would be transferred to another nuclear power plant. The operating licenses of Unit 2 and 3 do not expire until 2013 and 2015 and decommissioning will require expert workers. Entergy laid off a thousand people when they combined operations for Unit 2 and 3. It is a fact of life that businesses in any community can and do close for many different reasons.
If Indian closes we would have no other sources for electricity except coal and diesel fired plants. That would mean a lot more greenhouse gases and pollution that would disproportionately affect minority communities that are already dealing with high rates of asthma.
The generation of electricity is a big business which is regulated by the Independent Systems Operator. They vet all electricity providers and report a line of producers ready to step forward and fill in any gaps that develop. A cable under the Hudson River from NJ has already been approved. It will carry 500MW. An additional 3,600MW is under construction and will come on line by 2016. A cable from Canada running the length of the state is currently under negotiation. Demand for electricity is sluggish, and not growing nearly as fast as predicted. While this is partly due to the recession, it is also due to increased conservation and efficiency measures as businesses strive to cut costs and use less electricity for the same amount of work. NYC is already required to generate 80% of its power needs, so little change will happen there.
Indian Point supplies 30% of the electricity for our region. Without the 2,000MW of electricity from Indian Point the lights would go off and the subways would stop running. It is vital to our economy and without it the price of electricity would skyrocket.
How on earth do you figure 30%? The math just doesn't add up. We are not talking about 2,000MW’s of electricity that the plant can produce. We are only talking about what is used in the Westchester/New York City grid, 360MW. How many people pay thieir electricity bill to Entergy, the company that owns Indian Point? Nobody! Con Ed delivers all of the electricity in this grid and in their Annual Report from 2010 that is what they reported delivering from Indian Point, 360MW. Not a big deal out of the 11,000MW the grid might require on a typical day and certainly not 30% of what is used. The reactors go off line all the time, sometimes planned and sometimes not, and nobody even notices. Electricity is a commodity in a deregulated market which is quite healthy with a lot of providers. If your electricity is not delivered by Con Ed you get no electricity from Indian Point at all – 0MW’s.
Indian Point and the Hudson River
The Hudson river has never been healthier. Striped bass are thriving and the crabs love the warm water by plant. Just look at it – it is beautiful and clean.
The short response
It is hard to see what goes on beneath the water. The plant is in violation of the Clean Water Act because it kills more than 300 Billion fish per year and has altered the ecology of the River. The fact is that 13 native species are threatened and the short nosed and Atlantic sturgeon are endangered. Entergy is the largest user of water in all of NY State and is the most destructive of all commercial sites on the Hudson River. The thermal plume from the discharge pipe kills another half Billion fish annually. The state has ordered them to put in a radiator-type cooling system that eliminates water usage and fish kills by 95%. They are appealing this decision and are promoting a different system called Wedge Wire which does nothing for thermal pollution and is not approved for a fast moving river like the Hudson.
In 2009 Entergy went to the US Supreme Court to prove that Wedge Wire should never be used at a nuclear power plant and won. Nothing has changed since then except that they are now being required to put in a better system at more cost and now conveniently choose to ignore what they previously litigated.
Cooling towers are an unnecessary expense and would mean shutting down both reactors, eliminating hundreds of part time union jobs, and causing electricity costs to skyrocket.
The short response
The DEC did not order Entergy to build cooling towers, the most expensive form of closed cycle cooling. They ordered radiator type systems like the ones Entergy has at Vermont Yankee and Fitzpatrick. If Entergy chooses the more expensive towers, however, it would represent less than 5% of their projected $22 Billion profit and employ 5,300 workers for five years – instead of just several hundred for a 30-day refueling period every 18 months. It would be the largest most sustained construction project in the county in decades.
Nuclear power in other countries
What about France? They get most of their electricity from nuclear power and they don’t have any problems.
The short response
We are talking about Indian Point. Not about what happens in France. And, by the way, they face the same problems with their reactors as we do. You just don’t hear about it because the French government owns the reactors in that country and they have an official secrets act that makes it illegal to publish information about their nuclear program. Activists and journalists are arrested in France and have had their computers seized. Is that what you want here? And by the way, the leading candidate in their forth coming election is campaigning on a platform to reduce their reliance on nuclear power by a third.