New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has put Entergy Corporation on notice that he intends to shut down the Indian Point nuclear plant 35 miles north of Manhattan, likely representing yet another knock-on effect of the nuclear crisis at Fukushima in Japan.
As the New York Times points out in its coverage, this isn’t the first time that a politician has targeted Indian Point, which has a long record of safety and environmental problems. Most recently, the NRC put Indian Point first on the list of plants scheduled for a seismic risk assessment, citing recent geologic data indicating that the risk could be higher than previously believed.
Moreover, as our own analysis at Nature made abundantly clear (Indian Point is the big orange circle in this Google Earth graphic), the sheer number of people who qualify as neighbors – most of whom live downwind – would make the consequences of an accident that much worse. For perspective, if the US government’s recommendation for an 80-kilometre evacuation zone around Fukushima were applied to Indian Point, more than 17 million people would need to flee, including all of Manhattan.
But the Times suggests that Cuomo may be in a better position to follow through than other politicians in the past. First, the legislature is working on siting legislation that would allow the state to start thinking more strategically about energy facilities and power lines. Second, Indian Point’s two reactors are up for license renewal in 2013 and 2015, and to move forward Entergy will need environmental permits from the state.
For its part, Entergy has one big bargaining chip: at present, Indian Point provides roughly a quarter of New York City’s power.