The radioactive leak at the Indian Point nuclear power point in New York has elicited concerns over its possible repercussions, prompting calls for its closure.
A nuclear leak catastrophe close to one of the most densely populated regions of the country, poses serious problems that could harm residents. Such leak has already happened at the Indian Point Energy Center located in the town of Buchanan, along the banks of the Hudson River. Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, said, “It’s a disaster waiting to happen and it should be shut down.”
As reported by CBS News, millions of homes, businesses and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County are supplied electricity through the energy center. The latest incident of radioactive leak could open doors to several other problems. Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with organizations like Riverkeeper and the National Resources Defense Council among others, are calling for the permanent shuttering of the nuclear plant. Calling for the federal authorities to not renew the plant’s license, Cuomo said, “The trends of unexpected outages and environmental incidents like these are extremely disconcerting.”
Although Senator Chuck Schumer is in favor of the plant’s closure, he opposes its immediate shuttering; saying that it provides affordable electricity. “I have told some of the environmental people, if you can show me a plan to figure out a way to replace that electricity, fine, but if you can’t, it’s going to raise electricity rates 30 or 40 percent, which are high enough on average people and that’s not the way to go,” Schumer said.
Riverkeeper said in its 2011 study on retirement options for the plant that there are “ample existing and new resources available to replace Indian Point if it were to retire; and neither New York City’s nor New York State’s electricity reliability would be jeopardized. A replacement scenario focusing on cost-effective demand-side resources, local renewable resources, repowering of existing older inefficient power plants and new efficient generation as necessary would maintain reliability at a low cost to electricity customers.”
Enhanced levels of tritium – radioactive form of hydrogen, mostly a byproduct of radioactive reactors – were found by Entergy Corporation, which owns Indian Point, in water at three monitoring wells. The radioactivity in one of the wells was found to have increased by a whopping 65000 percent. Cuomo highlighted the increased levels of tritium in water in a statement, saying “Today, Entergy reported that the level of radioactive tritium-contaminated water that leaked into groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear facility last week has increased by 80 percent since the initial report [February 5].”
The renewal license for Indian Point is currently being reviewed. While the license renewal could give the plant another 20 years to function, environmental groups are arguing that the region needs to consider alternative options for energy. “The good news is, advances in alternate power sources, grid management and energy conservation have brought us to the day when the aging, unsafe Indian Point can close,” Gallay said. He further highlighted that there are 600 megawatts from transmission system upgrades and 500 megawatts available from energy savings from using renewable energy.