Cuomo Orders Safety Review Of Indian Point Nuclear Plant

BUCHANAN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered a complete safety review of Westchester County’s Indian Point nuclear plant after startling new information was revealed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The NRC reportedly ranked Indian Point as the reactor with the highest risk of earthquake damage in the United States, even higher than the twin reactors in California’s quake zone, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

“The Indian Point power plant is the most susceptible to earthquake because reactor number three is on a fault,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Frankly, that was surprising to me. One normally doesn’t think of earthquakes and New York in the same breath.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Deadly Tsunami Hits Japan After 8.9 Quake

Experts say Indian Point is about one mile from the intersection of two faults, and that has the governor concerned.

The plant is just 24 miles from New York City, and according to the NRC, it’s the plant with the highest possibility of earthquake damage.

Cuomo wasted no time in ordering an immediate safety review.

“I’ve had concern about Indian Point for a long time. As attorney general, I did a lot of work on Indian Point,” he said. “My position was that it shouldn’t be relicensed. My position was that it should be closed. I understand the power and the benefit; I also understand the risk, and this plant – in this proximity to New York City – was never a good risk.”

The folks who run Indian Point, however, say they’re not worried about a Japan-like meltdown there.

“I say only if a tsunami could make its way…up New York Harbor and the Hudson River, somehow avoid New York City, and drench our plant,” Jim Streets, director of communications at Entergy Nuclear Northeast, said. “It just doesn’t seem very realistic to me.”

Indian Point’s licenses are up for review in 2013 and 2015. Cuomo’s involvement in the case, and the findings of his safety review, could have an effect on those licenses.

Do you think what happened in Japan could happen here? Sound off below!

More from Marcia Kramer
  • peter john

    To all those who don’t believe a tsunami can happen at indian point should know that a landslide can cause a tsunami. And a severe earthquake can cause the landslide. Cosidering what happen in Japan, a review of the Indian Point nuclear power plants would be a very good idea.

  • jr23

    if people conserve the slack will be used up with the greens buying plug in electric cars
    back to square 1

    instead make a backup plan and if any falsification of test is caught the manager goes to jail and the board is fired with no severance

  • James Fogel

    Unfortunately this is an issue that effects more than just the state of New York. If the plant is shut down the power that it produces is removed from a power grid that is already dangerously close to failing. We as a country need to be adding more energy producers to the grid before we can even consider removing any.

    Human error contributed greatly to the nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan, not natural disaster alone. The earthquake itself did very little damage to the plant compared to the tsunami, yet the reaction to the earthquake was to shut down the reactor and rely on the grid and backup generators to cool the plant. The subsequent tsunami wiped out both of those backup systems. If the plant had still been online and producing, there likely would have been no loss of power, cooling, or containment.

    The simple truth is that shutting down a reactor instantly during an earthquake is a pipe dream designed to make people feel more comfortable, when reality is that it makes the situation more dangerous. It takes days to shut down a reactor, waiting a few hours to ensure that external power to critical cooling systems is in place and reliable before beginning shut down after any natural disaster event should be the new standard practice.

    • Steve Laifer

      “The earthquake itself did very little damage to the plant compared to the tsunami…”

      Actually this is not really known since their was no full inspection of the plant in the hour between the earthquake and tsunami.

    • Wastrel

      Yes, it takes days to shut down a reactor, which includes cooling it down and removing the fuel. Not only that, but we’ve seen in the Japan earthquake and tsunami that the “emergency backup” systems simply don’t function in an emergency. The fact is, as you can read in article on the internet by people who ought to know, that the testing of these systems is inadequate, the engineering has the goal of cost-effectiveness, not safety, and the reports of tests are falsified.

  • Jake

    Higest risk does not mean that it is a realistic risk… just relative to all the other nuclear plants. This seems to me to be good news if a earthquake in New York is the “highest risk’ then we’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about.

  • Lazlo

    A bit higher electric rate would be trivial compared to the cost of a nuclear meltdown. Like the financial meltdown, taxpayers will be left to pick up the tab.

    Nuclear Accident in U.S. Would Cost Taxpayers a Fortune
    Thursday, March 17, 2011
    Nearly half a trillion dollars. That’s how much a nuclear accident, similar to what’s occurring in Japan, could cost the United States if it happens here, with most of the expense being borne by taxpayers.

    A 2009 study by two university professors, Geoffrey Heal of Columbia and Howard Kunreuther of the University of Pennsylvania, calculated that a nuclear power plant meltdown would cause $384 billion in damages, and produce up to another $100 billion in economic costs. Their calculations were based on an accident taking place at the Indian Point nuclear-power station located 25 miles north of New York City. The death toll of such an accident was estimated to be 64,000 people.

    Thanks to the Price-Anderson Act, first passed in 1957, federal law limits the liability of individual power companies to $375 million, and an industry liability pool would be limited to paying $12.6 billion, leaving taxpayers to cover the remainder of any nuclear accident expense.

    • Jeremy

      The Nuclear industry will go down in its grave defending this, or any other power plant, even in the face of a meltdown. Look at what is happening in Japan. The logic behind the Nuclear industry is that for every disaster scenario, there is a plan. The problem is that, any disaster scenario should be avoided altogether. It is inevitable that Indian Point will one day face its day of doom, and that many many people will suffer from it. Whether that day is tomorrow or in 100 years is not known. But as the plant sits on a fault line, as humans are prone to error, and as spent fuel will outlive any method or materials of containment ever known to man, a disaster in inevitable. People ask if New Yorkers are actually prepared to make the change to another power source and whatever sacrifices this may entail in the short run. The question must be, are New Yorkers willing to go through a disaster, possibly greater than any ever experienced.

      Streets, Entergy and the NRC will go to their graves defending this plant. There is no piece of information that will make them change their minds. Even in the face of a meltdown, they would defend Indian Point. It is a matter of Industry, capital and money for them. It is time to shut down this plant now.

  • Steve Laifer

    Sorry, meant to agree with Lazlo’s post, somehow copied it over my comment.

    I believe the management of Indian Point is inflating the necessity of the plant, and painting a dire picture to counter the growing chorus for the closing.

  • Steve Laifer

    You think we need to have Indian Point power plant so badly that it is worth risking total catastrophe? Not so. If the plant was shut today, we would have to buy more expensive power from out of state until more local alternative sources and conservation programs (see below) are developed and come online. That slightly higher cost effectively buys an insurance policy against a disaster that could render an area the size of Pennsylvania uninhabitable and would kill 50,000 people (NRC study Calculation React to Accident Consequences 1984) .

    Also: Conservation Can Replace Indian Point

  • Lazlo

    You think we need to have Indian Point power plant so badly that it is worth risking total catastrophe? Not so. If the plant was shut today, we would have to buy more expensive power from out of state until more local alternative sources are developed and come online. That higher cost effectively buys an insurance policy against a disaster that could render an area the size of Pennsylvania unlivable and will kill 50,000 people (NRC study Calculation React to Accident Consequences 1982) There is also this:

    Conservation Can Replace Indian Point:

  • Bill Mc Quade

    You did not answer the question. Is NY ready for all the consequences of closing it? Do you seriously believe the community will let any power plant be built there to replace it?. If all you can say is close it without worrying about consequences that definitely will happen your arguement is all wet. People will be hurt with lost jobs & businesses going under or moving. These are real not a maybe in the future

    By the way, I have no connection at all to indian point.I am just a citizen who will be hurt like everyone else will. If you live in NY & during the summer you can not turn on an air conditioner you will be miserable . Maybe if everyone such as yourself would not have blocked every power plant proposal in recent memory, maybe we would not be so dependent on IP.

    By the way, what would you replace it with? Coal you are probably against . Oil pollutes & makes us more depenent on OPEC. Wind power is nothing but hot air. If you can magically get the power fairy to replace the power by snapping your fingers than close it. Otherwise…..

    • Sgeo

      Any chance it could be replaced with a more modern nuclear power plant? (Note: I suspect people wanting IP to be torn down would be against that, but if not…)

    • Steve Laifer

      Bill, are you ready for the consequences if we don’t shut it down?

    • wolfgang

      would you feel better with an air conditioner knowing that 50.000 people are at risk of death for you to have it?

  • Frank D

    Since the State is preempted by Federal Law and Andy the poliitican/laywer knows that- it’s just politician hot air to sound good. State law has NO JURISDICTION whatsoever. But so what- right?

    Worst rating? Jump on the band wagon and yell. Anyone even know what constiutes violations? Transformer oil spills? Probably not. Again who cares!

    Better yet. Anyone even know what a melt down really is? Right WHO CARES!!

    Build another 1000MW power plant that uses no fossil fuel to replace it for NYC. As long as they are not built around here.

    Let’s all be like our windbag politicians and moan and groan.

  • Pat

    Mr. Streets is just another short-sighted industry rationalizer. No, a tsunami will not roll over the NY nuclear plant, but any number of other events could cause the same problem…terrorist strike for example. Anyone who continues to advocate nuclear power after this, must have a financial interest in it.

    • Frank D

      You ever wonder why these plants are 40 or 50 years old?

      There are no new ones. Everything is “life extension.” And there are no replacement nuclear plants and never will be. The nuclear industry is on life support and there have been no US reactor suppliers (nor subsequent plant builders) for nearly 25 years.

      Obama may think it’s a good idea but the US nuclear construction industry died
      decades ago. It’s long gone.

  • d.oliva

    We have been told theres no need to worry..I wonder if this is the same thing the Japenese were told by theyre Government…I think that one can never be too safe when it comes to explosions,earthquakes,hurricanes, ect ..when mother nature strikes theres no manpower that has been able to avoid the damages since the beginning of mankind…why play so safe or better said so arrogant to our abilities…all nuclear plants should be checked..regardless,better yet to somehow train the population in case of such events…we have been told that in case of a nuclear power going off the United states is ready..recently the iodine pills..not to worry..I thinkg the Government should make it a point to really have more to say than just not to worry…how good is the U.S.A prepared for a catasptrohy as big as the one that Japan just went thru..Japan thought they were prepared …I think the Government should really concentrate in case of such happening here are we preapared are the hospitals equipped with enough personel trained in the area to treat radiation exposure,equipment,what ever is needed in case,food water,medicine ,personel…frankly I get concern when I’am told to not to worry….I think Cuomo is doing a good job to have ‘”Indian Point” checked into..Didn’t Japan think that there nuclear plants were safe…all nuclear plants should be checked can never be too safe….

  • Steve Laifer

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission basically just rated Indian Point as the most dangerous nuclear plant in the United States. What about that is unclear? If you had to pay a little more for electricity, isn’t that better than risking clouds of radiation emanating throughout the region? You can’t be serious. Generating power from that aging time-bomb is not worth risking the deaths of thousands.

    • Sgeo

      “The N.R.C. continues to believe that all U.S. plants are capable of withstanding the strongest earthquakes that can be expected at any given site.”

      • Steve Laifer

        Unfortunately the NRC’s dual mandate – both to regulate and promote the nuclear power industry – is a contradiction and gives them dubious credibility. The banking regulators also had a dual mandate when they assured us for years that everything was fine prior to the banking collapse. Part of the problem is also the revolving-door of government regulators and industry. For example:

        “Twelve days after leaving his position as Commissioner for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, [Jeffery S.] Merrifield joined the The Shaw Group, Inc. as vice-president of the company’s power group. The watchdog group Project on Governmental Oversight noted that, in his last few months at the NRC, “Merrifield vigorously championed several major policy initiatives that directly benefited his future employer,” including a change that reduced government and public oversight of new nuclear power plant construction, and changes to the approval process for new nuclear plant construction that scaled back public hearings and public comment periods.”
        – Sourcewatch

      • Lazlo

        “The N.R.C. continues to believe that all U.S. plants are capable of withstanding the strongest earthquakes that can be expected at any given site.”

        They continue to say this even as new information shows far higher magnitude quakes are possible at Indian Point “than expected” at that site.

  • Truth

    So far 8 comments, if it is closed and your electric bill doubles, you’ll have 45787 complaints. Time for renovations!

    • James Cole

      Not necessarily. If someone takes a leadership role and explains to the region that we’re going to have to pay a little more for a little while as the price of safer existence, it will go down easy with the populace. After all, the Governor’s father negotiated a deal to shut down the nuclear plant at Shoreham on Long Island in the early nineties and was applauded for it even though there were rate increases.

  • Sgeo

    I think it should be shut down if and only if the review finds that there is a serious likelihood of issues similar to what’s going on in Japan happening here if there’s an Earthquake or other natural disaster.

    I do support nuclear energy in general, but do wish to make sure we’re using modern, safer designs.

  • Gary Lyon

    With regard to the possibility of a tsunami moving up the Hudson and damaging the plant, there actually is a possibility of that. The Canary Islands off West Africa are seismically active and a portion of one of the islands is on the verge of collapsing into the sea. It is estimated that this could produce an enormous tsunami of over 100 meters on the West African coast and about 60 -70 meters on the US east coast. That seems like a serious threat to me.

  • Nancy Syrop

    There is no place to store the spent fuel which is the major problem with nuclear energy. The spent fuel rods are filling up in pools at Indian Point and in all the rest of the 104 reactors all over the US. Indian Point 1 was the first Nuclear Plant to be licensed in the US in the 1950’s and in the 60’s Reactors 2 and 3 were built. The amount of spent fuel sitting in such proximity to NYC is very dangerous. When Indian Point was built the engineering and seismological technology wasn’t as sophisticated. We now have new information that Indian Point sits within one mile from a fault line and we should error on the side of caution. The NRC today said that Indian Point is at the highest risk of danger of all the plants in the US because of the fault line that it’s near.

  • Larry D

    Gov. Cuomo said. “Frankly, that was surprising to me. One normally doesn’t think of earthquakes and New York in the same breath.” No, one certainly doesn’t. Neither does one think of asteroid impacts in the metropolitan area.

    I hope he does shut it down, and every other one in the state. Fire up those coal plants, NYC !

    • Frank D

      Good poiint! What if an asteroid hits it? Are we ready?

      They have not even tested for asteroid withstand capability. We are all doomed.


  • Tracy Brown

    I commend Governor Cuomo for taking a pro-active position in reviewing the safety at this plant. I hope he will bring the full powers of his office to bear to get this tired old plant shut down and incentivize New Yorkers to conserve. We can do better.
    Here is a study on the seismic faults under Indian Point from Columbia University-

    • Frank D

      Yes, let start building NYC buildings with windows that open instead of those power sucking pig air conditioners that run all year round 24 hours a day.

      GEEZ!! When was the last time you heard or saw an actual person intentionally wasting electricity. It’s not reality.

      Let’s talk about goverment and the corporations that own them. That’s a different story. Look at our electrical black hole called Times Square. Turn that off first off ?

  • Ace Hoffman

    Cuomo ordered an immediate review? He should have ordered an immediate (and permanent) shutdown and enforced it with the National Guard or something! What powers does he think a review will grant him that being Governor doesn’t grant him? IP is a “clear and present danger” with or without an earthquake!

    • William Mc Quade

      NY city & surrounding area get over 30 % of their power from IP. If you want blackouts, brownouts & massive rate hikes close it down. To think you can make it up by conserving is beyond naive. Maybe if people such as yourself did not get their knickers in a twist whenever any type of plant it planned we might not have this problem now.

      • Steve Laifer

        The Nuclear Regulatory Commission basically just rated Indian Point as the most dangerous nuclear plant in the United States. What about that is unclear? I wonder what it would take for Indian Point supporters to understand that the catastrophic consequences of radiation clouds emanating throughout the region are simply not worth the risk? It seems that nothing short of widespread radiation poisoning or turning the Hudson Valley into a “no man’s land” would cause you to rethink your position – and maybe not even then. Perhaps you are connected to the plant or industry in some way, otherwise I can’t imagine what is causing you to stubbornly insist that generating power from that aging time-bomb is worth risking the deaths of thousands.

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