BEACON, NY – Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, America’s Environmental Flagship who has long fought for the closure of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan, NY received news this afternoon that the power plant would be closed in 2021, as the result of an agreement being negotiated by New York State with the plant’s owners, Entergy. Reactor Unit 2 of the plant is due to close in April 2020, and Unit 3, which would close down the plant for good, is due to close in April 2021. Unit One, which did not meet earthquake standards, closed in 1974.
Citing dangers to public health and safety and ecological damage to the Hudson River, Clearwater has long advocated for the closure of Indian Point.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it still leaves us in danger for three to four more years. Indian Point has had an abysmal history of emergency shutdown, radioactive leaks, equipment failures, transformer explosions, degraded bolts inside the reactor core, and other problems. Without a viable evacuation plan, if something should go wrong between now and then,” said Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, “the 20 million people that live or work within 50 miles of the plant and beyond remain in danger.”
“The intense water withdrawals used to cool the plant will continue to harm Hudson River fish and other aquatic species. This means four more years of massive fish kill, including billions of eggs and larvae through April 2021,” said Dave Conover, Clearwater’s Interim Executive Director.
“The good news is that they have agreed to move old (but still highly radioactive) fuel rods from the severely overcrowded fuel pools, to safer dry-cask storage, to make long-overdue repairs, and to allow more inspections and better oversight” said Greene.
To execute the shutdown, a transition plan must protect workers; retaining those who have institutional memory to ensure safe decommissioning. Recently a phase out plan was negotiated for Diablo Canyon, the last operating nuclear plant in California, which is scheduled to close in 6 years. Their transition plan includes replacing the aging nuclear facility with 100% renewable energy, while retaining the most valuable workers, and retraining those who are not as needed after closure for jobs in the renewable energy industry. Clearwater believes that the New York plan for a “just” transition, should include New York’s entire nuclear fleet of six reactors, and be based on realistic but accelerated implementation of on- and off-shore wind, community and large-scale solar, more large and low-impact hydroelectric facilities, with robust storage systems to ensure reliability.
Even without a plan for renewable replacement energy in place, both the NY State Independent System Operators and the NYS Department of State have determined that there is currently sufficient energy on the grid to do without Indian Point due to energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption and the rapid increase in renewables resources.
Clearwater is also calling for a comprehensive plan to ensure safe decommissioning that is funded by Entergy, and doesn’t end up becoming a burden to ratepayers or taxpayers.
With regard to the Article 78 lawsuit recently filed by Clearwater, Goshen Green Farms and others challenging the NYS Public Service Commission’s 12-year mandatory Tier 3 Nuclear Subsidy, Greene said, “The $7.6 billion dollar subsidy was designed mainly to bail out unprofitable nuclear plants in the western part of the state – and remains an unacceptable use of ratepayer dollars, which would be better invested in renewable energy infrastructure, storage and energy efficiency.”
An amended petition is due to be filed next week.
Media Contact: Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater (845) 807-1270.