What’s Next for Indian Point?



Like many aging nuclear reactors, Indian Point, which has defined the Town of Buchanan for 40 years, was caught up in declining electricity prices and declining demand when its owner, Entergy Corporation, decided to shut the plant. In addition to lower revenues and costly upgrades, Entergy was facing an expensive court case plus hearings before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. In 2017, after high-level negotiations, the environmental organization Riverkeeper and New York’s attorney general agreed to drop proceedings against Entergy, and the corporation announced it would close Unit 2 in 2020 and Unit 3 in 2021.    

Now that Indian Point is closing, the next step is cleaning up the mess. Decommissioning a nuclear reactor is a huge, potentially dangerous process. With any big deconstruction job, contractors and owners may be tempted to cut corners and maximize profits. Supervision from authorities may be lax. The primary concern of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is what happens inside contaminated buildings. The state task force on Indian Point will disband when Unit 2 closes. Cortlandt established a local task force, but its purview is mostly replacing lost tax revenue. So who will watch the store?

Needed: A Citizens Oversight Board

We need a legislated oversight board of knowledgeable citizens representing all the stakeholders involved in closing Indian Point. A Citizens Oversight Board could keep up with the cleanup process, translate reports from the decommissioning company and the NRC into plain language and hold public meetings. Then it could make recommendations to help protect people and the environment from exposure to the high-level radioactive waste that will be stored at Indian Point for decades. There are about 1,500 tons of high-level radioactive waste at Indian Point from the many fuel assemblies used to power the reactors. This waste will be deadly for 240,000 years. That’s how long it takes for the plutonium to decay. Most of the used fuel assemblies remain in the fuel pools at Units 2 and 3. Some are entombed in steel canisters inside massive concrete pillars sitting on a concrete pad on the property. The closing agreement stipulates that Entergy will put all of the used fuel assemblies into dry-cask storage, a decades-long process. There is nowhere else to send this waste material. No community wants to accept it, and transporting it is dangerous. We created it and enjoyed its benefits, and now it’s ours to keep.

Unanswered Questions

Who pays for all this, and who’s in charge? No one knows if the decommissioning fund, which ratepayers have long contributed to through their electricity bills, will be enough. How the contractor will spend that money is an open question. During a decommissioning in Vermont, Entergy was using it to pay taxes, not for cleanup. A Citizens Oversight Board could help oversee the expenditures and keep the public informed.

While people tend to assume that the NRC will be in charge and enforce standards during cleanup, its supervision will be limited to the interior of contaminated buildings. The Environment Protection Agency will be involved, although given the cut backs in regulations, it’s hard to know how effective their oversight will be. Based on computer modeling, the casks could last 300 years or less. What happens after that is unknown. A Citizens Oversight Board—composed of community members—could track all this, make sense of the varying standards and requirements, and report back to the public as well as various levels of government.

How to Help

This fall, the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) will present state legislators with a proposed bill to establish a Citizens Oversight Board. The draft legislation is online at ipsecInfo.org. Many of our legislators aren’t familiar with this idea yet. They need to hear from people in their district.

You can support this effort by contacting your state legislator. There’s a list of elected officials at Elections.ny.gov. Find your state senator or House representative, and then go to his or her website and leave a note, send an email or, best of all, call and speak to a staff member. Let them know how important this issue is. Ask for their support and their vote for a Citizens Oversight Board.

For more information, contact IPSEC at 1-888-474- 8848 or visit ipsecInfo.org.

Marilyn Elie is co-founder of Westchester Citizens Awareness Network and a member of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, a coalition of grassroots and environmental organizations in the Hudson Valley dedicated to the closing of Indian Point and its safe and timely decommissioning.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

News Briefs

Equilibrium Studio Opens in Pawling

Equilibrium Studio Opens in Pawling

Equilibrium offers yoga, Pilates and Barre, as well as stretching and strengthening classes designed to help people rehabilitate from injuries and improve their athletic performance.
Dance the Weekend Away in Saratoga

Dance the Weekend Away in Saratoga

February 15 through 17
Natural Remedies Can Boost Immunity in Winter

Natural Remedies Can Boost Immunity in Winter

There is scientific evidence that acupuncture has a positive effect on the immune system.
Facial Massage Has Holistic Benefits

Facial Massage Has Holistic Benefits

“A well-performed facial massage is a glorious treat that will reduce puffiness, improve skin tone and enrich complexion."
‘Grandfather of Integrative Dermatology’ to Teach His Methods

‘Grandfather of Integrative Dermatology’ to Teach His Methods

“I encourage anyone living with unsolved chronic skin conditions to make an appointment and see how we can help you.”
Opioid Crisis Focus in Somers

Opioid Crisis Focus in Somers

1 to 3 p.m. February 7
Valerie Nivar Offers Natural Solutions for ‘Invisible Illnesses’

Valerie Nivar Offers Natural Solutions for ‘Invisible Illnesses’

“I am passionate about empowering my clients to achieve motivation and confidence and to live their best life.”
Sugaring Program at Sugar Hill Farm

Sugaring Program at Sugar Hill Farm

February 23
Holistic Chamber of Commerce Adds Poughkeepsie Chapter

Holistic Chamber of Commerce Adds Poughkeepsie Chapter

The new chapter will promote and support holistic and sustainable professionals and business owners in the Hudson Valley.
Synchronicity Brings Healing through Psychic Readings

Synchronicity Brings Healing through Psychic Readings

“These readings help offer guidance and insight into life situations.”
Microdermabrasion Now Offered by Daniela Hortencio

Microdermabrasion Now Offered by Daniela Hortencio

“It’s basically an exfoliation and skin rejuvenation procedure that leaves skin looking softer and brighter.”
Alternatives to Violence Project Seeking Workshop Facilitators

Alternatives to Violence Project Seeking Workshop Facilitators

The next Basic workshop in Westchester will take place March 8 to 10.
Quit with Quinn Introduces Free Info Sessions

Quit with Quinn Introduces Free Info Sessions

Quit with Quinn specializes in helping people quit drinking, smoking, eating sugar, using drugs or overeating, or overcome behavioral blockages.
March Retreat Focuses on Mastering Personal Energy

March Retreat Focuses on Mastering Personal Energy

March 8 through 10
Program Helps Seniors Conquer Fear of Falling

Program Helps Seniors Conquer Fear of Falling

Classes meet from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. The next session begins March 6
Self-Care Retreat for Women at Balance Wellness Studio

Self-Care Retreat for Women at Balance Wellness Studio

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on February 17
Stronger Together Solidarity Fair in New Rochelle

Stronger Together Solidarity Fair in New Rochelle

9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on February 3
Renovated Pellegrino Healing Center Opens in Hyde Park

Renovated Pellegrino Healing Center Opens in Hyde Park

"We tailor our services to each individual and create a safe and restorative space for healing.”
Stony Kill’s Winter on the Farm

Stony Kill’s Winter on the Farm

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on February 16
Autism's Gut-Brain Axis

Autism's Gut-Brain Axis

A Promising Approach to Healing
Universal Healing Arts Touching Lives in Cortlandt Manor

Universal Healing Arts Touching Lives in Cortlandt Manor

"The staff heals on a physical, mental and spiritual level."
Indigo Helm—‘More Than Yoga’—Opens in Cortlandt Manor

Indigo Helm—‘More Than Yoga’—Opens in Cortlandt Manor

"This is a discovery place! Drop-ins are welcome."
Fluoride Dangers Focus of Holistic Moms Meeting

Fluoride Dangers Focus of Holistic Moms Meeting

7:30 p.m., December 6
Voice Empowerment Workshop with Ronni Sarrett Lederman

Voice Empowerment Workshop with Ronni Sarrett Lederman

1 to 4 p.m., December 2
SearchLight Medical Featured on Comcast Cable Show

SearchLight Medical Featured on Comcast Cable Show

Laurie Mallis, M.D., a licensed acupuncturist, discusses and demonstrates AcuGraph Qi Analysis and Auricular (ear) Acupuncture
Flawless Skin Is a Popular Holiday Treat

Flawless Skin Is a Popular Holiday Treat

Through December, all clients will receive a free gift of anti-aging serum.
Weekly Qigong Classes in Two Dutchess Locations

Weekly Qigong Classes in Two Dutchess Locations

“No experience is necessary—your practice is based upon never exceeding your own capacity.”
Holistic Health and Wellness Series in Beacon

Holistic Health and Wellness Series in Beacon

“Each workshop will focus on the most important information for you to make positive changes in your life."