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As Indian Point shutdown approaches, safety and security measures must not be relaxed

Photo Courtesy Giles Ashford

With Indian Point nuclear power plant on track to shut down its remaining nuclear reactors by 2020 (Unit 2) and 2021 (Unit 3), protections against seismic, flooding, and cybersecurity risks remain just as vital as ever. This is NOT the time to relax those efforts.

Shutdown is a win for the more than one billion Hudson River fish and aquatic organisms this plant kills every year; the twenty million people who live and work within 50 miles of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, located just 24 miles north of New York City; and nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents who depend on a key reservoir just 15 miles from Indian Point for their drinking water. [Top 10  Reasons to Close Indian Point]

This timeline gives New Yorkers ample time to plan for a safe, prompt and effective decommissioning process. [Roadmap for Replacing Indian Point with Clean Energy]

But, in the meantime, Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, was recently granted an exemption to defer implementation of seismic and flooding evaluations—required nationwide in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan—until after permanent closure in 2021.

Entergy also wants to postpone its compliance with federal cybersecurity requirements while the nuclear reactors are still operating to reduce costs. Yet, only three months ago, the New York Times reported on the Department of Homeland Security and FBI’s urgent joint report confirming that U.S. nuclear facilities have been targeted by sophisticated international hackers.

Entergy is attempting to dodge these requirements at other nuclear plants. Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass) called out Entergy’s request to suspend cybersecurity requirements at the Pilgrim nuclear power station in a recent letter to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This is not the time to relax seismic, flooding, and cybersecurity protections at Indian Point so Entergy can save money. New Yorkers deserve safety and security at Indian Point both now and during the upcoming decommissioning process.

Read more about why our colleagues at the Union of Concerned Scientists agree that nuclear safety inspections like these are essential here.

UPDATED December 19, 2017

On December 8, 2017, the NRC granted Entergy’s application to postpone the compliance deadline for new cybersecurity requirements at Indian Point for an entire year, from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2018.

Unfortunately, Indian Point nuclear generating station continues to be plagued by unforeseen problems, highlighting the need for vigilant compliance with cybersecurity and other protections. As recently as November 1, 2017, Entergy was forced to undertake an unplanned reactor shutdown at Indian Point due to undisclosed issues.

For Hudson Valley residents and river species, closure of this deteriorating nuclear power plant cannot come soon enough.