By William Opalka
Six environmental groups called Wednesday for the immediate closure of the Indian Point nuclear plant.
The Sierra Club, Riverkeeper, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, Scenic Hudson and Physicians for Social Responsibility asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to suspend plant operations until Indian Point’s safety is reviewed by state and federal investigators.
The plant is under investigation following a series of mishaps in recent months, including radioactive water leaks and two unplanned outages. NRC is investigating the leakage of radioactive water into test wells. The New York departments of Health and Environmental Conservation are conducting their own investigation along with the Public Service Commission. (See NRC: No Further Leakage at Indian Point.)
“Currently Entergy is unable to properly access its aging labyrinth of more than 3 miles of pipes beneath the Indian Point site,” said Sierra Club President Aaron Mair. “Entergy focuses on tritium, but the actual leak likely contains a collection of radioactive elements, including Strontium-90, Cesium-137, Cobalt-60 and Nickel-63, that could migrate off the property.”
Federal officials and plant owner Entergy say the incidents have not endangered the public.
Entergy dismissed the most recent criticism. “Some organizations who are longtime opponents of nuclear power will take opportunities to try and frighten the public. The fact is this issue cannot have any impact on public health or safety,” spokesman Jerry Nappi told RTO Insider Friday.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said he understands critics’ frustration and said he was among the plant’s harshest critics. But he also told the Mid-Hudson News Network that the plant’s continued operation is vital to keeping electricity affordable.
“I have told some of the environmental people, if you can show me a plan to figure out a way to replace that electricity, fine, but if you can’t, it’s going to raise electricity rates 30% or 40%, [rates] which are high enough on average people and that’s not the way to go. In the meantime, I have emphasized very strong safety,” Schumer said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has advocated the plant’s closure due to its proximity to New York City.
“The NRC shouldn’t ask the public to take its chances when so many questions are unanswered and the stakes are so high,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “Since May 2015, Indian Point has suffered seven major malfunctions, from pump failures to transformer explosions, to radiation leaks, power failures, fires and oil spills. … Pending completion of the state and federal investigations, we must close Indian Point. These mishaps are happening on an accelerated pace. We shouldn’t be asked to wait for the next one.”