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The Indian Point Debate: Safety Concerns Versus Energy Access

At a recent hearing regarding the NRC’s assessment report on Indian Point’s safety performance in 2015, a large number of speakers weighed in with their views on the plant’s future. Attendees were fairly evenly split between the pro- and anti-Indian Point viewpoint, and Putnam County Chamber President/CEO Bill Nulk visited the proceedings and made several observations.

A NRC panel of presenters comprised of veteran servicemen from the US Navy nuclear program explained the findings of the NRC regarding Safety Performance at Indian Point during the previous year. They described processes and procedures, and also addressed the recent tritium leaks, the transformer fire and the Algonquin Pipeline concerns. A public comment period followed.

Certain points of view seemed to be the most prominent. The “anti” speakers tended to discredit the competency and bias of the NRC panel and the accuracy of the report; “neutrals” commented on the importance of Indian Point to the economic and social aspects of the community; and the “pros” were complimentary regarding the stated dedication to safety by the Nuclear Energy industry.

In the end, the main issues were (1) is the reactor safe, or are the recent tritium link and other issues indicators of larger problems down the road, and (2) is Indian Point capable of being adequately replaced any time soon? Many of the anti-Indian Point people held signs saying “Shut It Down”, but what would be the result? Other energy sources have been considered, and one interesting estimate showed that a windmill farm to replace the plant would fill all of Westchester County!

Indian Point has a good record of safety and response to incidents. It would be expensive and probably not even practical to close Indian Point and still supply sufficient power to the lower Hudson Valley. For this reason, the Chamber feels that until alternative energy is sufficiently developed, Indian Point remains an indispensable part of our energy delivery system.

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce

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