Due to Indian Point’s vulnerability to terrorism, a laundry list of safety problems, the storage of 1500 tons of radioactive waste onsite, and the lack of a workable evacuation plan, Riverkeeper has been working toward the permanent shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. In fall 2006 Riverkeeper launched its Reenergize New York initiative to encourage state leaders to invest in clean replacement power and to encourage New Yorkers to use energy more wisely. In addition, Riverkeeper is working with elected officials and the community to prevent a 20-year license extension for the Indian Point 2 & 3, currently licensed until 2013 and 2015, respectively. Despite all the problems and public opposition to the plant, Entergy, the owner/operator, submitted its relicensing application to the NRC on April 30, 2007.
Although a new power plant’s initial operating license depends on consideration of many factors, including population density around the plant and the assurance that evacuation plans can be effectively implemented in the case of a radiological emergency, the NRC’s review for relicensing does not examine these public safety issues.
In fact, the license renewal process is limited, focusing on environmental effects, such as endangered species, the effects of cooling water systems on fish and ground water quality; and, physical plant safety, such as the long term maintenance of coolant system piping or steam generators, as well as motors, diesel generators, and batteries.
Every exposure to radiation poses health risks, including programmed cell death, genetic mutations, cancers, leukemia, birth defects, and reproductive, immune and endocrine system disorders. While government regulations allow “permissible” levels of contamination, there are no safe levels of exposure. And yet, exposure occurs constantly, since radiation is released regularly from Indian Point in the form of liquid, gaseous, and solid radioactive wastes.
Despite ongoing safety problems at Indian Point, Entergy, its owner, is seeking a 20-year license extension for both reactors. On April 26th, 2007, former Governor Eliot Spitzer asked the NRC to conduct an Independent Safety Assessment (ISA) at the Indian Point nuclear power plant. He received support from some of New York’s top Congressional delegates, who introduced legislation requiring an in-depth review of Indian Point’s vital safety and mechanical systems, spent fuel pools, and radiological emergency evacuation plans.
Despite advertisements depicting nuclear energy as a “clean energy source,” the life cycle of generating nuclear power – from mining to refining to transportation to storage – requires a tremendous amount of energy. And, while some tout nuclear energy as the solution to the global energy crisis, it actually accounts for only 2.5 percent of the world’s electricity needs.
Indian Point’s nuclear power is neither clean nor green, and the process needed to create fuel from uranium for its reactors is energy-intensive and creates greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Riverkeeper supports New York State’s plan for reliable, sustainable power sources. The investment in truly clean and green energy production such as wind, solar, and biofuels, and offering incentives to encourage Smart Energy use by consumers would drastically reduce our contributions to global warming and reduce our dependency on nuclear power. Learn More