Indian Point Fire Sparks New Calls for Closure

BUCHANAN, NY – The transformer explosion and fire at the 40-year-old Indian Point Nuclear plant on Friday, May 9, appears to have resulted in an oil spill, as photographs taken over the weekend show a tell-tale sheen on the surface of the water. It also generated renewed calls to close the plant.

Photo by Riverkeeper

Photo by Riverkeeper

Clearwater’s Environmental Action Director Manna Jo Greene says, “What is not yet known for sure is whether the oil is from the foam used to put out the fire or from the transformer that caught on fire. What we know for sure is that these are symptoms of a significant problem at an aging, leaking plant that is unsafe and should be retired.” (To see news story, click here.)

This is the third transformer fire at the plant in the last eight years. On Sunday morning, Riverkeeper patrolled the Hudson off Indian Point, looking for signs of discharge from the transformer fire or firefighting foam into the Hudson. The boat crew found areas of sheen north and south of the plant, across the river on the western shoreline, but not at the Peekskill waterfront.

After a 2010 explosion and fire at Indian Point, plant operator Entergy was fined $1.2 milion by the New York State DEC for non-compliance, since it failed to make improvements to avoid a repeat of a 2007 incident. Indian Point Unit 3 is set to have its license expire in December of this year.  Indian Point 2 is the only nuclear plant in the country that operates with an expired license.

NYC drinking water supply, the Kensico Reservoir, which supplies drinking water for New York City, is only 17 miles from Indian Point, noted Gary Shaw, a member of the Leadership Council of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC).

The Kensico Reservoir, which supplies drinking water for New York City, is only 17 miles from Indian Point, noted Gary Shaw, a member of the Leadership Council of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC).

Clearwater’s Greene pointed to a new study – from City University of New York – that indicates an immediate shift to reliance on solar power could take up much of the slack from a decommissioned nuclear plant.

CUNY’s C.A.R. Si.I. Center recently created a Sustainable NYC Solar Map that analyzed solar potential for every square meter of each of New York City’s 1 million buildings.

“From this analysis,” said Professor Sean Ahearn, the Director of the C.A.R.S.I. Center, “we  calculated the total usable roof area for solar PV installations for the City to be approximately 615 million feet.,” said  “This represents a solar potential of 5,800 MW at peak output,  or over 40 percent of the City’s electrical demand at peak times.”

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