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Radiation risksNY’s Indian Point nuclear plant to close after many “safety events”

Published 11 January 2017

New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant will close by April 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday. “For fifteen years, I have been deeply concerned by the continuing safety violations at Indian Point, especially given its location in the largest and most densely populated metropolitan region in the country,” Cuomo said. “I am proud to have secured this agreement with Entergy [the plant’s operator] to responsibly close the facility fourteen years ahead of schedule, to protect the safety of all New Yorkers.”

New York's Indian Point nuclear power plant // Source: commons.wikimedia.org

New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant will close by April 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

“For fifteen years, I have been deeply concerned by the continuing safety violations at Indian Point, especially given its location in the largest and most densely populated metropolitan region in the country,” Cuomo said. “I am proud to have secured this agreement with Entergy [the plant’s operator] to responsibly close the facility fourteen years ahead of schedule, to protect the safety of all New Yorkers.”

The New York Times reports that the plant has had forty “safety events,” “operational events,” and shutdowns since 2012. The shutdowns highlighted fragility in the nuclear facility’s workings: in December 2015 the plant was shut down for three days after droppings from a “large bird” caused an arc between power lines and a transmission tower. In April 2016, Entergy, the plant’s operator, admitted it had found that bolts holding together the interior of one of Indian Point’s reactors were damaged and, in some cases, missing.

Last year, Entergy was subject of criticism when it allowed a natural gas pipelines to be built on Indian Point property, without adequately addressing the damage to the plant which would result from a breach of the lines.

Environmental groups in New York have been campaigning for the plant’s closure for years. The plant employs about 1,000 people. They were thanked by Entergy’s chairman and CEO, Leo Denault, who said the company was “committed to treating our employees fairly and will help those interested in other opportunities to relocate within the Entergy system.”

Paul Gallay, of activist group Riverkeeper, said: “Given the scope of the risk Indian Point poses, this is an essential step to a safer and more secure New York.”

Gallay said that the announcement about the plant’s cl sure was encouraging, but that the project of decommissioning was just beginning. “The very first priority is to get the spent fuel out of the overpacked storage pools where it’s resided for the whole 45-year length of the operation of the facility,” he said. “This agreement requires that and must be followed by prompt and full radiological decommissioning.”

He added that with Indian Point closed, “necessary cleanup work can begin in earnest.”