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!


Richard Offhaus's picture
Richard Offhaus 8 years 1 week ago

Nuclear power is the most pollution free source of energy we have, properly managed. While I agree that the siting of a nuclear power plant near a major metropolitan area is a bad idea it doesn't follow that we should abandon nuclear power. France has a big percentage of their power from nuclear plants. Years ago we had a knee jerk reaction to Three Mile Island and stopped building nuclear power plants. That was a mistake in my opinion.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 8 years 1 week ago

Richard, I suggest you make a thorough on-site inspection of the Fukushima reactor and report back to us. We eagerly await your report.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 8 years 1 week ago

In spite of all the controversy surrounding nuclear power, we still have nuclear subs and war ships that never get mentioned when talking about this power source. I don't think it's going away any time soon.

micahjr34 8 years 1 week ago

I think that any problem we have with any nuclear reactor is a wake up call for renewable energy. However, it won't be until an extremely bad accident happens in this country til people here get the point.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 1 week ago
Quote Richard Offhaus:Nuclear power is the most pollution free source of energy we have, properly managed.

Richard Offhaus ~ Nuclear power produces radioactive wastes that are dangerous for centuries and are almost impossible to dispose of safely. (In Fact, the cost of safely disposing the wastes far exceeds the profit made from the energy; which, is why Nuclear power plants are so highly incentivized to improperly dispose of it.) Coolant water in reactors become radioactive and cannot be disposed of properly without contaminating the environment for centuries to come. All the plants have the potential for accidents that can render an entire region of Earth uninhabitable for generations.

Exactly how is that safer than almost ANY other form of energy? Just because it doesn't emit greenhouse gases during normal use? Perhaps not, but what it does emit during an accident, or otherwise during normal use, is far more dangerous and polluting than any other source of energy known to man. Our "knee jerk" reaction to Three Mile Island was a result of the general public seeing first hand evidence of what activists have been warning them about. Now, after Fukushima Daiichi there will be a world wide "knee jerk" reaction that even Nuclear Industry paid shills like YOU won't be able to smooth over. Nice try.

David32's picture
David32 8 years 1 week ago

Thom, your campaign against nuclear power needs to end and end now. The damage to the health and welfare of mankind from nuclear power is miniscule when compared to burning fossil fuels. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 4.6 million people die every year as a result of using fossil fuels for power, transportation and heating. Since Chernobyl the WHO claims 100 million people have died as a result of fossil fuel pollution vs 4000 officially from the Chernobyl accident. Why aren't you campaigning equally hard for elimination of fossil fuels?

Its time to acknowledge that nuclear energy is the only source of energy that can replace fossil fuels. I'm not talking about current technology but a technology discarded 50 years ago. That technology is the Liquid Fuel Thorium Reactor. America abandoned mining rare earth metals used in most electronics devices because we didn't know what to do with the Thorium waste so now we import over 90% of rare earth metals from, guess who, China. Thorium is so abundant that unlike fossil fuels and uranium (that will also be used up this century) the earth will never run out of Thorium for thousands of years. Were we to begin again to mine rare earth metals a by-product would be enough Thorium to power the world for centuries. BTW, guess who is now building LFTR's using our abandoned intelectual property, China. I'm, frankly, surprised that you aren't aware of these facts. Search Youtube for Thorium and you will find ample support for LFTR technology.

Secondly, Elon Musk announced recently the Powerwall, a solar charged 10KW battery power pack (expandable in 10KW increments up to 90KW, more than enough for most residences. Oh, a 10KW pack costs just $3500. He is taking orders now for delivery next year. Musk claims he is gearing up to manufacture these units by the thousands. He also announced a much larger megawatt power unit for industrial use. There appears to be many competitors emerging in the battery business, enough so that I am convinced that the technology is real and ready for mass implementation.

These two technologies I believe can provide a fossil fuel free future if only you and your peers will get on board and stop the perpetuation of the myths regarding nuclear energy. Granted, the present LWR's need to be phased out as quickly as possible and replaced by safe LFTR's that produce no pollution or spent fuel. There are also technologies that can use the spent fuel from LWR's and solve the waste problem.

In conclusion, I urge you to stop your scare mongering about the present nuclear energy technology. Rather spend your time reviewing and reporting on future technologies that show promise for the long haul. In summary, they are battery power, nuclear power (LFTR) and fusion power.

Given these facts, I believe the worlds energy future holds enormous promise if we can convince politicians and corporate interests that there is no long term future for fossil fuels and our focus must be on developing battery and LFTR technologies in the short term with fusion power down the road, that is, if mankind has any expectations of surviving the damage we have already caused.

David E. Myhr

upperrnaz12348's picture
upperrnaz12348 8 years 1 week ago

I scratch my head as I read the comments that look to nuclear power plants as the ulitmate solution--there are other alternatives, no? Some people are already using them, all over the world. The Dutch use wind, people in the American Southwest use solar power, and there are other sources. The question is you can't make as big a profit on those alternatives as you do on nuclear. Some of those alternatives are available to people "on their own", so, other than some arrangement with local utility to cover shortfalls, and in some cases "sell" the surplus to the utiltiy in the even that occurs. I can understand why the corporate media isn' encouraging the other alternatives. What you don't know enables the billionaires to stay rich.

Legend 8 years 1 week ago

Nuclear in the USA would not exist if it was not subsidized by the Price Anderson Act. We the people pay the insurance for these plants. We the people are also paying for the long term temporary storage of the spent fuel in casks next to the plants. The plants have bloated staffs that make the plants too costly to operate, Indian Point alone has about 400 security guards. It needs this kind of security because of terrorist threat, Yet it has no protection from aerial attack. The industry has had 50 years to solve the waste problem and has done nothing. Decommisioning costs for the plans that have been recently shut down are going through the ceiling, They have 40 year schedules for decommisioning pawning the problem off to the next generation. The bad outweighs the good.

Marsh In Florida's picture
Marsh In Florida 8 years 1 week ago

Richard, you've totally omitted from your opinion any suggestions that address nuclear waste. In Washington state there is a major catastrophe happening - that's been happening for years - where the waste was placed into metal drums and buried underground. Unbeknownst to anyone was the fact that the drums eventually leaked causing death and destruction all around the area, from cancer to flora and fauna deaths. And it's still happening. What about the cleanup? What about the cost of "proper" storage. And we may as well prepare for the Fukashima happening here since Oklahoma has become a hotbed of earthquakes thanks to fracturing, yet plans are to build another nuclear plant not far from there. No thanks, I'll place my bets on renewables.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 5 days ago

Everyone who is objecting to Richard is complaining about LWRs. Does anyone know anything about LFTRs (I don't)?

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