The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) chapter at SUNY New Paltz hosted a press conference on Wednesday, Nov. 14 to address the potential relicensing of two Indian Point reactors in Westchester County, N.Y., NYPIRG Project Coordinator Eric Wood said.
According to a NYPIRG press release, Indian Point is “seeking a 20 year renewal of their license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as the current licenses will expire in 2013 and 2015,” and if relicensed, the reactors will remain active.
Wood said the biggest concern about the reactors is that they are located at the center of the most densely populated area of the county. About 20 million people live within the 50-mile reactor zone, he said.
“If we had a meltdown like Fukushima, the area would be devastated,” he said.
According to the press release, three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi facility exploded and melted down due to the earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 and more than 80,000 citizens have been permanently displaced from a 17-mile evacuation zone. The release said the water and air around the plant still remains contaminated today.
Indian Point is one of the oldest nuclear reactors in the country, Wood said, and the plant has been cited for violations such as faulty wiring, transformers and small fires on location.
“We don’t want to see anything happen like what happened with Fukushima, or God forbid an incident like Chernobyl,” he said.
Coleen Higgins, a NYPIRG intern, was among the 12 interns and volunteers who helped coordinate the conference. Higgins said she decided to advocate against relicensing because of the recent natural disasters in our area such as Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. She said this is timely and appropriate because one of the reactors is up for renewal in less than a year.
“We don’t need nuclear power,” Higgins said. “It’s not a source of power we really need.”
Higgins said energy needs to be derived from cleaner sources such as wind and solar power because she believes they are safer and better for the environment. She said investing in these forms of energy would also be responsible for greater job creation and self sustainability.
In response to the contrasting argument of loss of jobs, Higgins said the plant would not be shut down right away and in working to close the plant, people would also be employed.
“It can’t be shut down overnight,” she said.
Higgins said the evacuation plan for an Indian Point meltdown is also ineffective. The plan would evacuate everyone within a 10-mile radius of the plant.
“The 10-mile evacuation plan won’t protect the public at Indian Point, so the concept of trying to evacuate millions of people within a 50-mile radius is unrealistic,” she said in the press release.
As of now, Higgins said NYPIRG does not have anything else planned on the topic of Indian Point, but she would like to have more informational events in the future.
“It’s so important,” she said. “This issue isn’t going to go away.”