With Japan in Crisis, Cuomo Renews Calls to Close Indian Point

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Photo: Wikimedia

As Japan frantically tries to control a worsening nuclear crisis, Governor Cuomo is stepping up calls to shut down Indian Point, the nuclear power plant that provides a third of New York City's power. A federal report issued this week found that of all the reactors in the United States, Reactor 3 at Indian Point in Westchester posed the highest risk of core damage from an earthquake. The governor has long opposed the plant. As far back as 2007, he said Indian Point was a "catastrophe waiting to happen." But as the world watches the disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant unfold, Cuomo now has a much stronger case. Citing findings from the report, he said, "It should be closed. This plant in this proximity to the city was never a good risk."

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission put the annual risk of an earthquake at Indian Point at about 1 in 10,000. But the plant has not been without incident. Over the past 40 years, the plant has faced "radiation leaks, useless warning sirens, transformer explosions and oil spills," says the New York Daily News. Just two weeks ago, a Manhattan federal judge upheld the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to allow Entergy, Indian Point's operator, to cut back on meltdown prevention and use insulation that withstands fire for only 27 minutes.

Twenty million people live within 50 miles of the Westchester County plant, and local politicians and environmentalists oppose extending its license, which expires in 2013. Critics say the plant would never be built today, and its risks have been ignored for too long. But some residents see the plant as more benign. Charles Lynch, a 70-year-old resident of the nearby village of Buchanan, told the New York Times:

“I’ve been here too long to worry about whether it’s safe. You have to trust that it is. The only people who complain about it are the people who move here from New York City.”

If you think the governor isn't serious about pursuing the shutdown now that he has his chance, you've got another thing coming. As a show of commitment, Cuomo was even willing to come back from a ski vacation this week in the Adirondacks to issue a statement. On Tuesday, as state lawmakers fielded lobbyists asking for relief from budget cuts (and the world appeared ready to implode), Cuomo took his daughters skiing, followed by some time at Saranac Lake. According to Us Weekly, the lake is First Girlfriend Sandra Lee's favorite vacay spot, along with the Isle of Capri.

It's too risky to keep Indian Point nuclear power plant open: Gov. Cuomo [NYDN]
Living With a Nuclear Question Mark in the Backyard [NYT]
Cuomo? Oh, There He Is [City Room/NYT]