Indian Point could have been much worse...

It doesn't take an earthquake or tsunami to expose us to the risks of nuclear power. Last week, a transformer fire caused an explosion and oil leak at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in New York State.

That incident left a sheen of oil on the Hudson River, and it left one of the two reactors offline for the foreseeable future. More importantly, that fire served as a reminder of the dangers of operating a nuclear power plant less than 30 miles away from our nation's largest city.

It's too soon to determine whether the fire and leak pose an immediate threat to our environment or public health, but we already know that it's just a matter of time before the aging plant is a problem for New York City.

According to a 2011 report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an accident at Indian Point “could require the sheltering or evacuation of as many as 5.6 million people,” and it could “make Manhattan too radioactively contaminated to live in.”

Last week's incident occurred because of a simple transformer fire, and it wouldn't take much more to leave that plant vulnerable to a meltdown. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is in the process of considering whether to extend Indian Point's operating license for another 20 years, when they should be considering how to safely shut it down for good.

Although our regulators haven't seemed to notice, the rest of the world has come to the realization that there is no such thing as safe nuclear power. And, we have a ticking time bomb at Indian Point. We have the technology to make the switch away from dangerous energy, and the risk is too high to continue using nuclear.

As Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “This plant is the nuclear plan that is closest to the most densely populated area on the globe. If something goes wrong here, it can go very wrong for a lot of people.”

We were lucky that this incident only resulted in a small oil spill, but it's time to shut down that plant – and all the others – before the next accident has a more tragic result. No nukes!

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