Indian Point: Nuclear power plant too close for comfort?

The Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant sits on the banks of the Hudson River in Buchanan, N.Y.

New concerns were raised yesterday about a nuclear power plant just a few miles north of Manhattan, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly said he wants to shut down.

According to a report released yesterday by Environment New York, an environmental advocacy organization, a radiation leak at Indian Point Nuclear Plant could put the drinking water supply of millions of New Yorkers at risk of contamination.

“The drinking water for nearly 10 million people is too close to an active nuclear power plant,” said Eric Whalen, field organizer with Environment New York. “An accident or a radioactive leak could spew cancer-causing radioactive waste into the drinking water of millions of New Yorkers.”

According to the report, 11.3 million people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut depend on water supplies located within 50 miles of Indian Point, in Buchanan, N.Y. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, food and water supplies within 50 miles of a plant are considered at risk for contamination. More specifically, 8 million New York City residents rely on drinking water sourced near the plant, the highest population in the United States at risk of exposure.

“Indian Point is so close to our water supply that virtually any radiation exposure could contaminate our drinking water and increase the risk of cancer and other illnesses,” said Whalen.

Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy, the company that owns Indian Point, rebuffed the study.

“There is no issue with drinking water if there is no Fukushima,” Steets said, referring to last year’s earthquake in Japan that compromised a nuclear reactor and local water supplies. “We’ve devoted all of our attention to preventing anything like Fukushima from occurring in New York.”

Governor, a nuclear foe

Since taking office, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly voiced his opposition to nuclear power.

Next year, the license for one of Indian Point’s reactors will expire, and the plant will seek a 20-year extension from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The state government can slow down that process by refusing to provide permits to allow the plant to use Hudson River water as a coolant.

Earlier this month, the plant suffered a water pump failure and shut down for an emergency repair.

Eric Whalen hopes the report will sound the alarm against the nuclear plant.

“New York should deny Indian Point’s relicensing,” said Whalen. 

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyAEpstein



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