New Film on Indian Point Explores 'Nuclear Power in the Age of Fukushima'

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New Film on Indian Point Explores 'Nuclear Power in the Age of Fukushima'

Film alleges former nuke commission chair was ousted by pro-industry forces who thought he was being 'too aggressive' in his efforts to protect the public.

Indian Point sits on the east bank of the Hudson River in Buchanan, New York, just south of Peekskill. (Photo: Indian Point Film)

A new documentary, premiering Friday at the Tribeca Film Festival, provides a glimpse inside the aging nuclear plant known as Indian Point—as well as a slew of new arguments against nuclear power. 

The 94-minute film, titled Indian Point and directed by Ivy Meeropol, features unprecedented footage of the three-unit nuclear power plant station, which was designed in the 1950s and sits in Buchanan, New York, just 35 miles up the Hudson River from Times Square. 

In an interview, Meeropol said the film is "about one aging and controversial nuclear power plant in the age of Fukushima. The story is told from both inside and outside the plant, through characters who care deeply about its future."

It delves specifically into the story of Gregory Jaczko, who was chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) when Japan's Fukushima power plant suffered a major meltdown in 2013. The film alleges that Jaczko—an advocate of tightening safety controls at America's aging nuclear facilities after the Fukushima disaster (his was the only dissenting vote on plans to build the first American nuclear plant in 30 years)—was ousted from the NRC by pro-industry forces who thought he was being "too aggressive" in his efforts to protect the public.

When asked by IndieWire what she wants people to think about after seeing the movie, Meeropol responded: "That there are consequences to our insatiable demands for energy and there are no easy answers for how to capture that energy safely. But even more pressing, since we are currently using nuclear power across the country and the globe, nuclear power plants must be regulated, and we need to be certain that our regulatory bodies are not compromised by their relationships with industry."

The Daily Beast describes Indian Point as "a cautionary tale about a technology once seen as an abundant and non-polluting energy source, but with downsides that could make oil spills and electrical brownouts seem as minor as a fender bender."

Just this week, the Disaster Accountability Project, a nonprofit organization that monitors responses to nuclear emergencies, called on the NRC to establish a 50-mile disaster warning zone for Indian Point. Currently, the NRC requires communities located within 10 miles of nuclear power plants to develop emergency plans.

But the Wall Street Journal reports that the NRC, "in response to the Disaster Accountability Project’s recommendations, said that the current 10-mile zone for emergency planning is appropriate and that plans in those areas will provide adequate protection to the public in a nuclear accident."

Meeropol and Jaczko will participate in a Q&A following the film's premiere on Friday evening.

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