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A LESSON IN NUCLEAR SHUTDOWN: INDIAN POINT

  • By Admin
  • April 15, 2024
  • 95 Views

Indian Point Energy Center is a nuclear power plant found in Buchanan, New York, situated on the east bank of the Hudson River, about 36 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. The facility consists of three nuclear reactors: Unit 1, which operated from 1962 to 1974; Unit 2, which began operations in 1974; and Unit 3, which began operations in 1976. The plant had been a significant provider of electricity to New York City and surrounding regions for many years; however, it had also been the subject of controversy due to concerns about safety, environmental impact, and its proximity to densely populated areas.

In January 2021, Unit 2 ceased operations; In April 2021, Unit 3 was shut down permanently, marking the end of commercial operations at the Indian Point Energy Center. The closure was part of an agreement between New York state and the plant’s operator, Entergy Corporation, which had faced increasing pressure from state officials and environmental activists to close the facility.

The closure of Indian Point Nuclear Station was cause for jubilation for some, especially those preferring the “green energy” approach and fearful of perceived risks with nuclear energy. But in the aftermath, Buchanan and New York has had to suffer the loss of jobs, tax revenue, and most importantly, the loss of carbon-free electricity generation. The loss of power from this nuclear facility had to be offset by natural gas rather than solar and wind renewables. This left New York City seeing their power grid yielding more carbon emissions than before. Some say the result was predictable – nearly everywhere nuclear plants have been shut down, fossil fuel power plants have had to make up the difference.

Today, most analyst say the closure of Indian Point was a mistake. 

Given current events, many environmentalists have set aside their reservations about nuclear and accepted it as an important part of a transition to zero-carbon emissions. The hard part for nuclear’s future, aside from the public’s misunderstandings about it, is the industry must figure out how to reduce costs. Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and Advanced Reactors seem to be a step in that direction, but for now nuclear must rely on political gamesmanship to get any public funding.

Although Indian Point has closed, hopefully New Yorkers will ensure that such a misguided decision isn’t repeated at their three remaining nuclear facilities: Fitzpatrick, Ginna, and Nine Mile Point. Public support could be decisive in protecting these clean-energy powerhouses. New Yorkers could also look to a new nuclear future with SMRs and advanced reactors. Who knows – maybe the Indian Point site could become home for a nuclear plant again.

Photo credit: Tony