Blogs > Indian Point > Nuclear-energy advocates try to exploit COVID-19 fears to keep Indian Point open

Nuclear-energy advocates try to exploit COVID-19 fears to keep Indian Point open

Media sources publish disinformation without checking the facts.


COVID-19 fearsOver the past week, nuclear-power advocates have opportunistically used regional media outlets to link the imminent closure of Indian Point 2 with the region’s response to COVID-19. In the pages of The New York Post and on the Gotham Gazette website, they’ve resorted to the false claim that the region will face blackouts when Indian Point shuts down, possibly resulting in hospital ventilators going offline. This cynical fear mongering is wholly devoid of any factual support, impractical and is the opposite of what we need right now, which is solutions-oriented forward thinking.

Far from threatening blackouts, the current crisis has actually driven down power demand in New York City by 12%, a hard fact conveniently omitted by the fearmongers. As a science-driven organization, Riverkeeper takes great exception to distortions and cherry-picked facts, but we find it equally upsetting that news organizations publish such irresponsible claims without bothering to fact-check them. Further, the Department of Public Service has unequivocally refuted the nuclear-advocates’ claims, stating, “There is no reason nor need to allow Indian Point to remain open because of the pandemic” and decommissioning can continue as planned.

While their attempt to create panic in New York’s time of crisis is abhorrent, it is not surprising. The pro-Indian Point advocates have long relied on fear and disinformation in their vain attempts to keep this aging, dangerous and unneeded plant open.

Study after study shows there is plenty of power without Indian Point and the grid will be as reliable as ever. The latest study by PSE Healthy Energy published only this week confirms that even without any new gas plants reliability would not have been an issue. The same study shows that since the closure was announced in 2017, New York has added enough renewable energy and energy efficiency to replace Indian Point 2. In short, we’re in the midst of a public health crisis, but we do not have an energy crisis.

Indian Point 2 is already well into the process of shutting down, as its fuel rods run out of juice. Power is down by 18% and you’d need 18 months’ lead time to refuel it. In addition, Entergy has requested approval of state and federal regulators to transfer the plant to a different owner for decommissioning. Even if we were experiencing an energy crisis, which we are not, Indian Point would not be the solution.

Finally, the closure agreement only allows the state to extend the operation of the plant if there is an emergency “by reason of war, terrorism, a sudden increase in the demand for electric energy, or a sudden shortage of electric energy or of facilities for the generation or transmission of electric energy.” Since none of these conditions exist, the closure agreement requires the plant to cease operations.

Indian Point is a safety risk due to aging, potential for earthquakes, its proximity to a high pressure gas line, and the impossibility of evacuation in case of an accident. Its outdated once-through cooling system also kills billions of aquatic organisms every year damaging the ecology of the Hudson River. Indian Point’s closure will create a safer region poised for new, more sustainable sources of energy and conservation that will put thousands to work. It will also lead to recovery of the Hudson River’s ecosystem once its destructive cooling system ceases operation. Right now, we should all be focused on protecting the health and safety of our fellow New Yorkers, not getting sidetracked by those seeking to use the current crisis as a pretext to call into question sensible forward thinking decisions made years ago.

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