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Posts Tagged ‘Indian Point’


Monday, April 4th, 2011

April 4, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Last week a CNN reporter pulled a single sentence out of a three-page letter written to New York State officials by a Con Edison vice president and concluded that closing the Indian Point Nuclear Station would cost the average New Yorker only $65 a year.
That emboldened anti-nuclear activists and state officials, all the way up to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who are trying to persuade the Nuclear Regulatory Commission not to relicense the two reactors, which provide Con Edison’s service area (New York City and Westchester County) with one-third of its electricity.
Now Reuters has compiled a more realistic reaction. "Uncertainty is the operative word,” Paul Patterson an energy analyst at consultants Glenrock Associates in New York, tells the news service. “I do think it would behoove one not to underestimate the trouble local officials can cause power generators."
And an anonymous Con Ed spokesperson adds this comment:  "The notion that removing 2,000 MW of electricity from the New York grid won’t harm reliability or lead to higher prices defies any measure of credibly or objective analysis.”
The original letter, written by Con Ed vice president Joseph Oates, was actually a long argument to the State Department of Environmental Conservation outlining the difficulty, if not near impossibility, of replacing Indian Point’s power. The State DEC is also trying to close Indian Point by saying it violates the law by warming the river slightly.
Closing Indian Point, Oates wrote, would mean a broad effort to find replacement power. “Such a plan would require a combination of new generation, gas pipelines and transmission assets. . . .The time required to site and permit the needed solutions . . . could take up to ten years.”  The most commonly mentioned alternates are new gas plants plus an effort to bring James Bay hydropower down from Canada. The gas plants would probably be located in New Jersey, since New Yorkers also rejected the Millennium Pipeline, which was intended to bring natural gas resources from Canada and upstate New York into New York City, crossing the Hudson right at Indian Point so that a gas generator might be construction there. New York State refused to allow the pipeline to cross the Hudson so it was terminated in New Jersey instead. Bringing Canadian hydropower to New York City would require the construction of a whole new transmission corridor. Upstate New York residents have long resisted this as well. There is also some chatter about building windmills but this is unlikely to happen since New Yorkers have already defeated a plan to build a 140-megawatt wind complex in Long Island Sound. Indian Point provides 2,000 MW.
At one point in the letter, Oates remarked, Con Edison estimates that its customer bills "would increase up to six percent of more depending on the replacement option.”  CNN took this figure and applied it to an estimate that the average New York City apartment dweller pays only $85 a month in electricity. From there it arrived at its $62 a year figure. But millions of people in the area do not live in apartments and the cost to businesses and commercial spaces would obviously be much higher.
Bringing electricity from New Jersey and far upstate obviously increase the chances of power outages. New York’s famous blackout of 1977, by far the most destructive, was caused when overloaded power lines failed while bringing emergency power from upstate New York. Closing Indian Points two reactors and substituting power brought over much greater distances would likely multiply those risks. 
 Read more about it at Reuters


Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

February 16, 2011
Nuclear Townhall


In a maneuver that will could directly complicate licensing for plant extensions and ripple into new plant siting, three northeast state attorney generals have sued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission contesting the recent waste confidence ruling that will allow utilities to store spent fuel for sixty years on-site.

"Whether you’re for or against re-licensing Indian Point, we can all agree on one thing,” New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman told the Associated Press. “Before dumping radioactive waste at the site for 60 years after it’s closed, our communities deserve a thorough review of the safety, public health, and environmental risks such a move would present.


The New York State Attorney General’s office is already on the record as opposed to relicensing Indian Point – as is Governor Andrew Cuomo and the entire New York political establishment.  The waste confidence lawsuit is another step in a multi-pronged effort to close the plant, which supplies New York City with one-quarter of its electricity.

Connecticut has not been so overtly anti-nuclear, although former Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (now U.S. Senator) did propose a windfall profits tax on reactors a few years ago because he said they were profiting unfairly from the run-up in oil prices. Millstone Units 2 and 3 have already had their licenses extended through 2035 and 2045 respectively.

Vermont, of course, is intent on closing Vermont Yankee after Governor Peter Shumlin won election in large part by opposing it. Vermont is already dealing with initial consequences, however, as IBM, the state’s largest employer, has announced it will leave without Vermont Yankee’s electricity.

All this might serve as a cautionary harbinger of things to come, except that litigation-minded attorneys in the state offices seem indifferent to the consequences. When asked how the state planned to replace Indian’s Point’s 2000 megawatts, one attorney in the New York office responded, “That’s not our problem.”

Read more about it at the Hanford News


Thursday, February 10th, 2011

February 10, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

All eyes in Washington are fixed on the national debt ceiling and the brinkmanship involved when it has to be extended in the next two months. Will the government shut down or won’t it?  But by next March the same attention may be focused Vermont Yankee and the brinkmanship over whether or not New England is going to end up without any electricity.
Senators James Inhofe of Oklahoma and David Vitter of Louisiana pointed to the coming showdown this week when the charged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewing license renewals under a “dual standard,” granting them quickly where there is no political opposition but delaying them indefinitely where controversy has arisen. Although they did not mention any specific reactors, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton last week specifically cited the Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim license renewals as having been delayed for five years.
"In cases where local opposition has been minimal or non-existent, the NRC has indeed kept to the average 22-month review schedules,” NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said in a response. “In the cases of Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim and Indian Point, local residents have exercised their ability to legally challenge the renewal applications. The NRC respects their right to do so."
Local residents are indeed campaigning to close down all three reactors, since anti-nuclear sentiment is strong in the Northeast and the area is populated by the kind of professional amateurs who have no idea where electricity comes from or how it is generated. The Vermont governor’s election last year was essentially decided on the issue of Vermont Yankee (the candidate who wants to close it won) and in New York the state attorney general’s office has been laboring long and hard to close down Indian Point. Naturally, the NRC is afraid of being accused that it is “in the pocket of the industry” by relicensing. But at some point somebody’s going to have to figure out how to generate some electricity as well.
The New England Independent Systems Operator, which does know how to generate electricity, has been issuing warnings that losing Vermont Yankee’s 600 megawatts will destabilize the entire New England grid. "Without Vermont Yankee in service, potential reliability issues could include thermal overloads on high-voltage transmission lines and voltage instability, either of which could damage equipment, compromise grid stability, or cause uncontrolled outages," said the ISO in a report last August. The loss would require "emergency generation brought into Vermont temporarily, more expensive generation from outside Vermont and demand side resources" and ultimately new transmission line construction.
Even then, the drama over Vermont Yankee next March will be only a preview to the bigger show as the deadline for Indian Point 2 and 3 approaches in 2014. The two Hudson River plants produce one-quarter of New York City’s electricity. That’s an awful lot of windmills to throw up in so short a time.

Read more about it at Platt’s


Thursday, December 9th, 2010


Nuclear Townhall
December 9, 2010
From the Editors

Exelon finally succumbed to pressures from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and announced it will close Oyster Creek, the nation’s oldest operating reactor, in 2019, ten years ahead of schedule.

The reactor is one of three older installations that has come under intense political pressure to close down in the past year from politicians who also claim to be highly concerned about global warming. Vermont Yankee and New York’s Indian Point, both owned by Entergy, are in similar crosshairs, much for the same reasons.

Exelon’s decision is hardly a win for hysterical anti-nukes, since the reactor will remain open another nine years. The time lag will give both Exelon and New Jersey officials plenty of time to reconsider. The 600-megawatt plant, originally licensed in 1969, supplies 8 percent of New Jersey’s electricity. The state has three other 1000-MW installations – Hope Creek and Salem I and II – and altogether gets 50 percent of its electricity from nuclear, the 10th highest ranking in the nation.

 After operating efficiently for 36 years, Oyster Creek applied for a 20-year license extension in 2005. Opposition groups filed a petition arguing that corrosion in the plants drywall container posed a safety problem. The Atomic Safety Licensing Board dismissed the claim. Then in 2007, the state Department of Environmental Protection weighed in with an argument that the plant was not safe from airplane attacks. The ASLB also rejected this petition. Nevertheless, the relicensing went right down to the wire, with the renewal issued only a few days before the old one was about to expire. Opposition groups continued to file petitions long afterwards but to no avail. In 2008, Oyster Creek experienced small tritium leaks of the kind suffered by Vermont Yankee. The ASLB said they did not pose a public hazard and the leaks were quickly fixed.

While Oyster Creek passed all the federal tests, however, it finally ran aground last year when the ever-diligent New Jersey DEP came back with an announcement that it would require the plant to build cooling towers in order to avoid raising temperature in Barnegat Bay. DEP said that the warm water from the once-through cooling cycle was adversely affecting fish life. Exelon disputed the claim and said that spending billions to build the towers it would not be economically feasible. If the state persisted, it would close down the plant. Yesterday’s decision appeared to fulfill that promise.

Although the announcement may bring hosannas from the anti-nuclear crowd, there is probably less than meets the eye. The plant will remain open another nine years, long enough to reap a few billion in profits while fending off the state’s environmental demands. Many nuclear engineers may breathe a quiet sigh of relief, since there are inherent risks in running a 50-year-old plant.

Most of all, the loss of 8 percent of its electricity will give New Jersey officials the chance to deliver on their promise to replace Oyster Creek with thousands of 40-story windmills planted along the 125-mile New Jersey coastline. When the state drew up a long-term energy plan in 2006, nuclear expansion was given a big role. Environmental groups quickly beat up on Governor John Corzine, however, and by the time the plan was finalized in 2008 wind had replaced nuclear. New Republican Governor Chris Christie may have different plans but minus 600 MW of electricity the state will have to come up with something. Maybe a new nuclear reactor?


Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

An electric transformer caught fire at the Indian Point 2 reactor in New York, yesterday, forcing a temporary shutdown at the reactor.
Fortunately, the small explosion took place at a nuclear reactor and not a natural gas plant, where the presence of highly flammable methane might have caused a conflagration that could have caused numerous fatalities and even forced evacuation of the surrounding area. Because nuclear fuel is not combustible and because it is sealed off from the electrical portion of the by a concrete containment structure several feet thick, there was never the slightest danger that the “blast” – as The New York Times called it in their headline – would have any impact on the nuclear portion of the plant.  Further down in the story we learned that "No one was injured and no radiation was released, the [NRC] said" and "Operators at the plant, in Buchanan, declared an “alert,” the second lowest in a four-stage emergency ranking."
Nonetheless, the story received considerable attention in the press. National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm devoted an entire hour yesterday morning to the incident at Indian Point along with a pipe leak at Vermont Yankee that was welded shut within two hours. Participants were the Times’ Matt Wald, who wrote the “blast” story, Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, one of the nation’s most vociferous anti-nuclear crusaders, and Scott Peterson of the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Callers to the program made the usual declarations – that Price Anderson frees the industry from any responsibility for accidents, that nuclear adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than coal, and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is putty in the hands of the industry.
One caller who started work at the NRC in 1973 begged to differ. “I was so impressed with the quality of the engineering that was being done there, I ended up staying there ’till I retired — almost 30 years later. . . I never saw, while I was there, any attempt to try to cover up anything.”
Makhijani concurred that the nuclear industry does have an exemplary safety record. “I think, on a relative basis, the caller is right. . . [I]f you compare it to the chemical industry and the coal industry, . . . there’s no comparison in terms of the routine effects.”  Still, he concluded, there was always the possibility of “an accident on the scale of Chernobyl.”



Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Leading New York gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo, the state attorney general, officially joined a growing herd of New York politicians with a renewed call for closing the Indian Point nuclear power station by 2013 and replacing it with “alternate sources of energy.”

Buried in a just released 150-page "Power NY" energy policy book is the following paragraph:  “Andrew Cuomo has long been a supporter of closing the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester and has argued that the federal government should not renew the plant’s operating license when it expires in 2013. We must find and implement alternative sources of energy generation and transmission to replace the electricity now supplied by the Indian Point facility.”

Cuomo is regarded as a shoo-in to replace Democratic Governor David Patterson, who replaced the scandal-tarnished Eliot Spitzer.  Cuomo – the son of former Governor Mario Cuomo – is already being touted as a Presidential prospect. 

As attorney general, Cuomo had presided over a boilerplate bureaucratic effort to close down Indian Point. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has denied a permit to the two 1000-megawatt reactors, declaring that Entergy, the owner, must build cooling towers to avoid killing fish eggs and young-of-the-year in their once-through cooling system –- even though fish life in the river is thriving and a coal plant right across the river has the same problem but has not been subject to the same requirements.
"The idea that New York City and Westchester County, its principle suburb, are going to give up Indian Point’s 2000 megawatts is patently absurd," said one longtime New York energy observer.

Con Edison churned out 12,963 megawatts during the July heat wave, just short of the all-time record of 13,141, set in 2006, by importing electricity from as far away as Ohio.  On a year-round basis, Indian Point provides 30 percent of Con Ed’s electricity.  According to one estimate, replacing just one of the two reactors with windmills would mean covering all of Westchester County’s 400 square miles with 45-story wind towers spaced one-quarter mile apart.

However, New York City is reportedly exploring “alternate sources.”  In recent months private developers have talked about building a 400-mile transmission corridor from Canada to New York City to import hydroelectric power. Such transmission lines are vulnerable to outages, traditionally opposed by every municipality in their path, and usually can take as many as ten years to build once they gain approval.

Read more at the Albany Times-Union


Friday, June 25th, 2010

By William Tucker
The Vermont State Legislature has voted not to re-license Vermont Yankee. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is insisting that Oyster Creek close down if it does not build cooling towers. New York State is doing the same at Indian Point, which provides New York City with one-quarter of its electricity, as is California with San Onofre and Diablo Canyon.

When told that all these plants play a critical role in providing these state with electricity, the bureaucrats and environmentalists wave these concerns aside and insist the reactors can be replaced by wind and solar.

People who understand energy are assigned a simple role in these controversies. They must defend these aging reactors at all costs. Yes, Vermont Yankee has leaked small quantities of tritium but it poses no danger to the public. Yes, Oyster Creek warms Barnegat Bay slightly but there is no serious threat to fish life. Yes, Indian Point warms the Hudson, but putting up cooling towers would require a yearlong shutdown and make the two reactors unprofitable. (And why hasn't the Department of Environmental Conservation required cooling towers at an almost identical coal-and-gas plant across the Hudson at Bowline Point?)

In the coming years, countless hours and millions of dollars will be spent in court and before regulatory agencies trying to defend these reactors.

So the question is:  How damaging would it be to the U.S. nuclear energy revival if one or more of these plants were to close? Sure, Vermont would lose one-third of its electricity and have to go to Canada begging for hydro. Sure, New York City would lose 2,000 megawatts and suffer brownouts and blackouts during summer peaks. Sure New Jersey would seriously have to investigate covering its entire 125-mile coastline with 45-story windmills. (What a nice background that would make for the Jersey Shore!)

But that's the whole point. American society has become dangerously divided into two groups — people who understand how electricity works and people who hardly know anything about it. Increasingly, it's the people who don't know that much who are running the show. The authors of the Waxman-Markey Bill seriously think passing a renewable standard of 17 percent will set us on the road to energy utopia. Speaking on Meet the Press two years ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described natural gas as a "cheap, clean alternative to fossil fuels."  A few weeks ago I had the chance to quiz one of the chief litigators in the New York Attorney General's office who is diligently trying to close Indian Point because ­as he put it "it's in the wrong place."  When I asked where he thought New York City was going to find a replacement 2,000 megawatts, he gave a weak smile and said, "That's not our problem."

The whole premise of energy generation has become that a small cadre who understand technology are assigned the task of providing for the public while everyone else hounds them for allegedly disturbing the environment. Orchestrating this opera bouffant is a caste of environmentalists who insist that their form of energy generation will have no impact on nature and that covering the Tehachapi Mountains with 40-story windmills will only enhance the scenery.

How important is the battle with nuclear opponents over a small percentage of the U.S. nuclear operating fleet?  Will one or more closures cause a ripple effect in the current fleet with opponents moving onto other targets?  Or is the priority to just concentrate on building new ones as soon as possible or maybe multi-tasking? 

How about adding your opinion to the debate?

William Tucker is editor-at-large of Nuclear Townhall and author of Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Energy Odyssey.


Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

In a typical bit of journalistic malpractice, the Washington Informer has found one African-American who worries about nuclear power and decided it must be bad for all African-Americans.

The article features Dr. Robert Bullard, referred to as the “Father of Environmental Justice,” who “sees the red flags waving when it comes to the nuclear reactors President Obama has pledged government aid to construct in the town of Shell Bluff which is located in Burke County, Ga.”  The surrounding country is 51 percent Africa-American.

What the article does not mention is that African-Americans form a majority in many areas of the South. (The overall population in Georgia is 28 percent.)  And although the article quotes Ann Lauvergeon of Areva saying the company will be sensitive and Patrick Moore saying reactors are safe, no one ever points out the economic benefits of having a nuclear plant in your community.

Calvert County, Maryland was the second-poorest country in the state until construction of the Calvert Cliffs Reactor. Now it is one of the richest, with low taxes and lavish public facilities, all paid for by the reactor. That is why the entire political establishment of the county favors Constellation Energy’s plans for a new reactor and why county commissioner Wilson Parran – who happens to be African-American – regularly testifies in its favor. Bisconti Research has shown that support for nuclear is almost 20 percent higher in communities with reactors than in those without them. In 2007, the New York State NAACP supported Entergy’s efforts to relicense Indian Point.

 Dr. Bullard began his efforts opposing toxic waste dumps, which certainly tend to be located in poorer neighborhoods. But it would be mistaken to apply this logic automatically to nuclear reactors. And it would be a mistake to report his ideas as broadly representative.

Read more at the Washington Informer

William Tucker

Accidents at Energy Facilities Puts Spotlight on Nuclear

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

If nothing else, the blowout at an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and several recent coal-mining disasters have emphasized one thing – no form of energy generation is completely safe.

Meanwhile, what’s the case against nuclear?  A tritium leak at Vermont Yankee that didn’t make it off the property. A charge that intake pipes at Indian Point are killing too many fish larvae. And of course the ever-present charge that the minimal emissions from reactors are causing cancer clusters.

Patrick Moore points out the safety record of the nuclear industry in an interview with the Burlington Free Press. Better yet, David Frum says the oil industry should take a lesson from the nuclear industry in learning how to upgrade its safety record.

Read it at the Frum Forum

Then come back to Nuclear Townhall and give us your thoughts

William Tucker


Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

By Bill Tucker
The battle over Indian Point, kicked off by a New York State environmental ruling last week, could last for years and will give the public an extensive education in the contentious issues that surround nuclear power.

In an interview with Fox-TV yesterday, Entergy dug in, saying it wasn’t even sure the lack of a water quality permit from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation would prevent it from licensing the two plants when they come up for renewal in 2013 and 2015.

What will come under close examination is the tendency of environmentalists to make wild, unsubstantiated claims and then to have these charges casually repeated by the press.  TV news reports in the New York region yesterday, for example, were routinely repeating the charge that Entergy’s cooling waters are “polluting” the river – as if the reactors were some kind of sewage plant.  In fact, all the plant does is raise the temperature of the 2-1/2 million gallons of water it draws from the Hudson each day by 20-30-degrees.  If anything, warmer temperatures are usually beneficial to biological life.

News reports are also repeating the charge that the plant “kills a billion fish a year” and is therefore threatening life in the Hudson River.  What these reports are talking about, however, are fish larvae.  A mature female striped bass – the predominant species in the river – lays up to 3.5 million eggs per season.  The mortality rate among these larvae is 99.9 percent.  The billion larvae that may be entrapped in the Indian Point cooling system represent the progeny of only 300 mature females.  There are 3 million striped bass fishermen on the Atlantic Coast and the number of striped bass in the Hudson – where 40 percent of the population comes to spawn – is in the millions. Commercial fishing has been forbidden in the Hudson since the 1970s because of PCB contamination from two General Electric plants near Albany.  As a result, fish populations have thrived.  One recent report called the recovery of aquatic life in the Hudson a “miracle.” 

Whether New York press and politicians can handle these issues or whether they will succumb to environmental hysteria will be an interesting development.  If they don’t, New York City may find itself without 30 percent of its electricity.

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