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  • Writer's picturePearl

Zap: Nuclear Closure

New York State successfully closed down one of the Indian Point reactors in April during the pandemic emergency. Power remained successfully on in the region provided by eight years of investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and improved transmission outlined in New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision.

As Indian Point is decommissioned the local economies will change. New York State has done several studies on how to ease and support community level transition by investigating the effects of closing coal fired power plants and the efforts made to support the communities. Many of the New York State’s coal fired power plants have been decommissioned due to age, improved technology, and to meet emissions goals. Even during this pandemic time, there are bills in the state legislature that will further ease the transition, maintain the current workforce, and preserve tax revenue that funds the school, village, and county activities. In the town of Buchanan, where the plant is located, storage of the spent nuclear fuel and the fuel casks will continue. Part of the legislation adjusts the tax levy of the non-operating facility to close the gap that would otherwise affect the town’s revenue and maintain skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable workers as the ownership of the plant moves from Entergy to Holtec.

Environmental groups have touted concerns regarding Holtec’s management of closed nuclear facilities where waste is being stored, which will be the case at Indian Point. They are citing bribery, lies, and risk-taking as reasons to avoid Holtec as the decommissioning organization. There are additional concerns of leaving the decommissioning decisions only to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for similar reasons. In Vermont, where there is only one now decommissioned nuclear reactor, an oversight board was set up to oversee the finances and compliance of the closure. In New York there are six active reactors at three different sites; setting up a knowledgeable board appointed by the governor has been put forth in the legislature. The Nuclear Regulatory commission has only Holtec and Interim Storage Partners, LLC as applicants for Consolidated Interim Storage Facilities operators. This board is required to meet four times per year, will be unpaid, and reimbursed for travel over 200 miles only. State level oversight seems prudent to protect citizens and the environment and provides a platform for financial and environmental watchdogs to report to that is outside of the offending party. There are many reactors here and the risks are so high, perhaps something more robust than a volunteer board would be better, it would be interesting to know the background and expertise requirements of the board members due to the complexity of nuclear power once the bill has been past.

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