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Public Outcry Over Pipeline Near Indian Point


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held its annual public meeting Wednesday to discuss the NRC’s assessment of safety performance at Indian Point.

At the public meeting, several nuclear power and pipeline experts questioned the March 2015 approval granted to Spectra Energy by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)  to locate its high-pressure, natural gas pipeline– a part of the Algonquin Pipeline Project– near the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, New York. (See our previous coverage.)

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FERC based its approval on the NRC’s confirmation of  an safety analysis by Indian Point’s owner, Entergy Corporation, that used a pipeline rupture model which is specifically prohibited in this circumstance, according to Paul Blanch, an engineer and nuclear safety expert.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, the Westchester Board of Legislators, and other local elected officials, as well as more than 20,000 individuals have urged both FERC and the NRC to have an independent, comprehensive, transparent, risk assessment completed and fully addressed, before any Spectra construction is allowed near Indian Point.

Opponents of the Spectra proposal argue that the siting of this massive pipeline within 105 feet from vital structures at the aging Indian Point nuclear facility poses a dire threat to 20 million people who live in the New York metropolitan area.

However, despite the opposition and official requests, FERC has not rescinded its approval of the Spectra project.

Last week, a fire that knocked out one of the plant’s two reactors also caused oil and fire-retardant foam to spill into the Hudson River, and has put the reactor out of commission for several weeks.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who visited the spill site, has called for Indian Point to be shutdown permanently. He noted that the recent fire was a reminder that it is ” inherently problematic” to have a nuclear power plant so close to the largest metropolitan area in the U.S.

Joyce Newman
Joyce Newman
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.
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