New York nuclear plant's future shaky as fears grow
(Reuters) - New worries about a New York nuclear plant's vulnerability to earthquakes could hand the state's governor an opportunity to try to close the plant, but New York City's huge power needs could stall any such moves.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has long been a critic of the Indian Point plant owned by Entergy Corp, called for a review of its safety this week after new data showed it was the most vulnerable nuclear plant in the country to damage from an earthquake.
That will likely put more pressure on the plant as its owners seek to win new operating permits for its two reactors, which are otherwise due to expire in 2013 and 2015.
Stoking the fears are the images of helicopters dumping water on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, which was badly damaged after an earthquake and tsunami last Friday.
While Entergy insists Indian Point is safe, it sits only about 40 miles north of New York City on the banks of the Hudson River -- close enough to pose a threat if it were to suffer a breakdown on the scale that the Japanese plant is now experiencing. The company said it would review its safety procedures in light of recent events.
"Those us who have been talking about Indian Point for a long time have said it should never have been sited there in the first place and now (Entergy) is asking to extend the license for another 20 years." said Arnie Gunderson, a 29-year veteran of the nuclear industry and current chief engineer at Fairewinds Associates Inc in Burlington, Vermont
U.S. officials have said Japan has been too slow to extend an evacuation order around the Daiichi plant, and that if such an accident occurred in the United States, the nuclear regulator would call for an evacuation of people from 50 miles around the site.
For Indian Point, that would mean emptying New York City and the densely packed communities that border it. That could severely disrupt global financial markets as Wall Street would be paralyzed and even satellite financial centers such as the hedge fund capital Greenwich, in Connecticut, would have to evacuate.