NY Nuke Plant to be Shuttered, But Will Cuomo Turn to Dirty Gas Instead?

Indian Point nuclear power facility in Buchanan, New York. (Photo: Nuclear Regulatory Commission/cc/flickr)

NY Nuke Plant to be Shuttered, But Will Cuomo Turn to Dirty Gas Instead?

Radioactive tritium-contaminated water had been leaking from Indian Point nuclear plant, which sits on the bank of the Hudson River

New York's "dangerously decrepit" Indian Point nuclear power plant will officially shut down by April 2021, according to an agreement reached this week between the state and Entergy utility company.

A source "with direct knowledge of the deal" told the New York Times that one reactor will "cease operations by April 2020, while the other must be closed by April 2021," the paper reported on Friday.

In recent years, radioactive tritium-contaminated water had been leaking from the aging Westchester County facility, which sits on the bank of the Hudson River, just 25 miles north of New York City, spurring calls for its closure from activists and concerned residents.

Recognizing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's history of supporting New York's upstate nuclear facilities, including a $7.6 billion bailout this August for four other plants, anti-nuclear campaigners reacted to the news with caution.

"Does Indian Point #nuclear shutdown announcement in reality signal Entergy could sell the plant to Exelon? Shut down deal is a wait and see," Beyond Nuclear wrote on Twitter, pointing to a possible deal between the state's two utility giants. The group urged the state to "close it now" to avoid "four more years of meltdown risk."

Similarly, Harvey Wasserman, activist and editor of NukeFree.org told Common Dreams that "this is generally good news, but it allows the reactors to continue to operate without licenses and there's a troublesome 'out' clause if there's not enough replacement power."

"Unfortunately," Wasserman continued, "Gov. Cuomo made that more likely by handing $7 billion to keep dangerously decayed uneconomical upstate reactors in operation. Indian Point should shut yesterday and while we can welcome this agreement, we must keep fighting to shut those reactors NOW."

The news follows the recent agreement reached in California between the state government, the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) utility, and local labor groups to replace the state's last operating nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, with renewable energy sources.

But, in the case of New York, it remains unclear what the power from nuclear facility would be replaced by. The Times' source said potential prospects include "hydropower from Quebec and power from wind farms already operating across New York."

However, legal records (pdf) show that natural gas company Competitive Power Ventures, a major donor of the governor's, had met with Cuomo's aids to advocate for the plant's closure, advocacy group Environmental Progress pointed out on Friday.

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