What to Do About Indian Point?

Three Letters to the NY Times

Re “Taking Aim at Indian Point” (editorial, Dec. 5), about the relicensing process for the two nuclear reactors in Westchester County:

I live 10.69 miles from the Indian Point nuclear plant, and the .69 keeps me out of the emergency evacuation plan.

Frankly, if something happened, evacuation wouldn’t matter, as I’d be toast. It’s easier to replace power than people. Power can be replaced by using existing grids. With 20 million people within 50 miles, this is no place for a nuclear plant.

I applaud Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo and Gov. Eliot Spitzer for leading the way to closure. We have enough catastrophes on the planet right now. Let’s remove the possibility of one more.
Maxine Margo
Chappaqua, N.Y., Dec. 5, 2007

To the Editor:
Controlling energy demand should be at the forefront of any plan to replace Indian Point’s power. A 2003 report prepared for New York State found that the state realizes only one of seven kilowatt hours of potential efficiency savings (roughly 14 percent). That means a lot of energy is being wasted.

Reducing energy use has major benefits. The report also estimated that capturing only one-third of unrealized cost-effective efficiency savings would produce almost $3 billion in net benefits in five years. New York cannot afford to ignore these untapped savings.

Earlier this year, Gov. Eliot Spitzer presented a plan to ensure that New Yorkers use less electricity in 2015 than in 2007, using new programs and modern efficiency standards for products and buildings. Some of these efforts can be focused on the region served by Indian Point.

Adding clean, new renewable power and modernizing fossil-fuel-fired plants to increase production while decreasing pollution are good ways to enhance the grid.

New York State can use these methods to address rising energy bills and power plant pollution and to replace Indian Point’s current capacity.

Jason K. Babbie
New York, Dec. 5, 2007
The writer is a senior environmental policy analyst at the New York Public Interest Research Group.
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To the Editor:
It is good that this paper sees the merit of New York State’s having a seat at the table when deciding whether Indian Pont should be relicensed, but some other points need to be made.

First, nuclear energy is not free of fossil emissions. The mining, enrichment and transport, as well as the heavy construction, all create a large carbon debt before a single emission-free megawatt is produced.

Further, Indian Point’s spent fuel pools are built only partly below grade; have been restacked to contain far more high-level wastes than the original design estimated; have been leaking radioactive elements into the groundwater below the plant for years; and are so full that Indian Point is laying a large, open concrete slab to hold the overflow of deadly wastes.

Continued operation will not help that situation.

Gary Shaw
Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., Dec. 5, 2007
The writer is on the steering committee of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition.