Blogs > Docket > Riverkeeper presents comments on proposal of permanent fish protection outages at Indian Point

Riverkeeper presents comments on proposal of permanent fish protection outages at Indian Point


Photo: Deborah Brancato
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Photo: Deborah Brancato

Photo: Deborah Brancato

On July 22, 2014, Riverkeeper submitted its oral public comments at the public legislative hearings on NYSDEC’s alternative proposal of permanent fish protection outages at Indian Point, as set forth in its May 2014 Fact Sheet.

Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director, reiterated Riverkeeper’s position that closed-cycle cooling at Indian Point is the “gold standard for protecting the river”, while stating Riverkeeper’s support for “DEC’s decision … to consider this alternative proposal…at Indian Point, in the unlikely event that closed cycle cooling cannot be built or will not be permitted for some reason at the plant.” These oral comments are in addition to Riverkeeper’s more technical written comments, submitted on July 11, 2014.

Mr. Musegaas clarified the record by presenting the facts of the case and correcting misleading statements and fearmongering expressed by Entergy supporters during the public hearings.

The following is the excerpt of Riverkeeper’s public statement from the July 22, 2014 public hearing:

My name is Phillip Musegaas. I’m the Hudson River program director at Riverkeeper. We have about 5,000 members that live and work in the Hudson Valley, and our core mission, as many of you probably know, is to protect and restore the Hudson. So we’ve been working on Indian Point in one form or another for about 40 years.

… I think our history on this is well known. Our positions are well known. For this particular issue that’s before us today, Riverkeeper does support, and we strongly support, DEC’s decision to have this — to consider this alternative proposal of permanent seasonal outages at Indian Point, in the unlikely event that closed cycle cooling cannot be built or will not be permitted for some reason at the plant.

We have had several weeks of hearings on this idea of cooling towers and building cooling towers at Indian Point over the past summer, and we have enough paperwork and enough reports to probably fill half this room that talk about how Indian Point can retrofit to cooling towers, how they are cost-effective, how they can be built, and how they are the gold standard for protecting the river.

And when it comes to jobs, doing a major construction project like retrofitting a power plant and building cooling towers creates jobs, it doesn’t lose jobs.

So I would encourage the union members here and the folks that are here with signs to think about that idea of job loss and who is really proposing creating jobs and who is proposing losing them.

Entergy’s position for a long time now, we’ve heard folks talking tonight about this idea that nothing has happened for four years and Entergy proposed these wedgewire screens a couple of years ago and they could have built them by now.

Well, the State of New York and the Department of Environmental Conservation came out with a draft permit eleven years ago that laid out in very simple terms that Indian Point, in order to get its permit renewed, in order to keep operating, and if it got its license renewed from the NRC, Indian Point would need to retrofit to closed-cycle cooling, and they laid out a schedule for how it could be done, and that wasn’t done. Entergy has been fighting the idea of cooling towers for 11 years.

So when you talk about who’s caused delay and who’s responsible for what proposals, you need to look at the entire history here.

One thing on outages that I want to make clear: Riverkeeper supports this proposal, but our position is that any outage that is ultimately decided to be used has to be as protective of the Hudson River as closed-cycle cooling, and we’ve gone into some detail on this. We’ve filed written comments with the Department of Environmental Conservation that are in the record. So we go into detail there.

The impacts on the Hudson River from Indian Point’s operation, despite what you heard tonight, I think when you look at the science – I don’t know if Fred is here any longer, but Fred talked about science and the reliance on it. When you look at the science, the science shows Indian Point kills over a billion fish and other aquatic life a year, every year, every year it operates. Indian Point’s been operating since the mid-1970s. So you can do the math on that.

Riverkeeper did a report, hiring an independent biologist back in 2008 — we’re going to update his report this year — that takes Entergy’s own data, the data they collected in the river on how many fish are in the river, and looked at 13 key Hudson River fish species, and that report showed 10 of those 13 species are in long-term decline. Unfortunately, the news that’s going to come out this year is probably not going to be much better.

And Indian Point contributes directly to that decline. It’s not the sole cause; it’s one of many causes. But it contributes directly, and it contributes significantly. And the science shows that….

I just want to spend a couple of minutes responding to some of the other comments we’ve heard tonight. This question about the risk of blackouts: This is pure fearmongering, as the prior speaker said very eloquently. All of the evidence that’s been put in this case, and I encourage folks — it’s a slog, reading through expert reports, reading through testimony in a hearing. But it’s publicly available.

I encourage you all to look at that evidence, look at the reports that have been done –not only by Riverkeeper, but by the Department of Public Service, the Staff of the Public Service Commission, the agency in New York that helps to regulate the electrical grid.

They concluded and our experts conclude shutting down Indian Point will have no impact on reliability. We will not have blackouts. The last time we heard talk about blackouts was after 9/11, when thousands of people in this community were concerned about Indian Point’s safety and Entergy raised the specter of blackouts and people dying in the streets, people dying because their air conditioner goes off. That will not happen. That is factually not accurate. So I encourage you to look at the record. Don’t believe me. Look at the record, look at what the experts say…

…We’ve also heard people talk earlier today about the idea that this is valuing fish eggs over valuing public health. There’s no link between replacement power that might be needed and the combination of replacement power to be needed to replace Indian Point; there’s no evidence in the record that that directly leads to increased asthma rates and that directly leads to people dying. That’s fearmongering and that’s scare tactics.

What this is really about is having a healthy river and healthy communities versus having a single company that owns this power plant continue to make record revenues and record profits from operating this power plant, using the Hudson River, which is a public trust. That river belongs to all of us. The fish in that river belong to all of us. I grew up fishing. I love to fish. People grew up fishing on the Hudson, and the fish are contaminated now. There are less fish in the river. That’s something to think about when you think about who owns this resource.

Just a quick mention of energy replacement: We’ve heard a lot of talk about that. New York State is actually taking action. They have a New York Energy Highway proposal, which you can look up online. They have a legal proceeding called the Indian Point contingency proceeding before the Public Service Commission, where they are specifically planning and they have an approved plan to upgrade transmission and to ensure enough new generation to replace Indian Point. And they’re planning to do that by the summer of 2016.

So the plans are in place, and the plans are being implemented to replace Indian Point. There are a number of new power plants. If you look online, new gas plants, some of them, new transmission lines, that will easily replace Indian Point in the next few years.

… I just want to reiterate that Riverkeeper’s core mission is to protect and restore the Hudson. We are dedicated and we will stay dedicated to making sure, if Indian Point keeps operating, it operates in a way that the river is fully protected, and we will do everything we can to ensure that. We can have a healthy river and we can have healthy communities both. This is not mutually exclusive.

In the end, this is Entergy’s choice. They were given a choice 11 years ago and a way to upgrade the plant and keep operating, and they chose not to do that. That’s one reason why we’re here today. Thank you.

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