Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Danger in the East

                                                    "Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant" Tony Fischer Photography via flickr
Imagine a beautiful day in downtown New York City. As always, New York City is packed full of people whether it's tourist families that are walking around visiting or a local business man on the way to work. Everyone is going about their peaceful lives and then boom; it's all gone...This event could happen if the Indian Point Power Plant's license is renewed and the plant continues to run.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
There are many dangers that accompany the nuclear power plant. People make many claims about how prices will be higher and reliability will be lower if there is no plant, but are these valuable excuses to compare to the safety of the U.S? In the end it comes down to what the United States values more, cheaper costs and better reliability or the lives of millions of citizens. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know which decision is smarter. There is no excuse to endanger the lives of millions, which is why we need to fight in order to close down Indian Point Power Plant and avoid the drastic events that could take place if the plant were to stay open.

We all know about pollution, but very few of us, including me at first, knows about the specifics. According to The New York Times, Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo and his administration stated how “The Indian Point Plant uses up to 2.5 billion gallons of water from the Hudson per day as a coolant, cycling back into the river” (Hakim). This is a huge health problem to not only New York but to every area that the river runs through, as well as the fish that live in the river and the animals that drink from it. It's amazing that this has continued to go unpunished, and it's time the Hudson stops paying for the atrocities of Indian Point. Of course this is a problem! Are you fine with billions of nuclear water being dumped into one of the most populated rivers in the country? Just to give you a heads up on how much 2.5 billion gallons is, take a look at these facts from The Water Information Program.

Another reason why Indian Point needs to be terminated is because of its horrible placement and the possibility of an earthquake or another kind of natural disaster striking the power plant. Indian Point just so happened to be built on an earthquake fault line. Riverkeeper released the "Top Ten Reasons To Close Indian Point" in which number eight says, “The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission revised its estimates of earthquake risk in 2010, concluding that Indian Point is the most likely nuke plant in the nation to experience core damage due to an earthquake.” (Riverkeeper). If Indian Point is the most likely nuclear plant in the nation to experience core damage due to earthquakes, then why is the plant still have a license and why is it still running? Many people argue that there are very small chances of a large enough earthquake striking the power plant, but those same people can look back at a recent earthquake that ended up hitting a power plant. On the day of March 11, 2011, Japan was hit by a 9.0 earthquake that caused severe damage to not only the northeastern part of Japan but also to the Fukushima Power Plant. In result to this there were radiation leaks that left many people deathly ill. I strongly feel that an event such as this could easily take place in New York that could kill thousands, even millions of people. Are you willing to let thousands, even millions of people die a horrible, gruesome death!? I know I'm not, but I'm just a good person like that.

                                                                   "Indian Point and Fukushima" StopIndianPoint via YouTube

Now lets take a look into the danger of a man made incident. The world was shocked as they watched two planes bring down the Twin Towers and kill thousands of people. I was seven years old, and I still remember sitting on my couch, hopelessly watching as thousands of people were killed in an instant. Now think of the possibility of attack happening on Indian Point, not to far away from where the Twin Towers once stood, but instead of killing thousands of people, it kills millions of them. According to a video by “Shut Down Indian Point Now,” an organization led by the people of New York against the renewal of the power plant, “Indian Point contains the radioactive material of 1000 Hiroshima bombs” (Indian Point and Fukushima). If the event happened in which an attack hit the power plant then the result would be catastrophic. So catastrophic that it would most likely wipe out all of New York as well as the states surrounding it, throwing the US into chaos. Almost everybody knows of the damage that one nuclear bomb did to the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, now think of 1000 of those going off all at once. The U.S can't allow an event like this to take place which is why the government needs to step in and demand that the plant be shut down right away.

     "Chernobyl Journal" Cultcase via flickr              
Remember back to the catastrophic power plant meltdown of 1986. The infamous event being recognized is the Chernobyl Power Plant, “According to early documentation of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown, the catastrophe exposed 30,000 people living near the reactor to about 45 rem of radiation each -- about the same radiation level experienced by the survivors of the Hiroshima bomb” (Zehner). Chernobyl is still affecting many people and deaths are still being recorded that were caused from the melt down at Chernobyl. The 25th anniversary of this event just took place last year and the results can still be seen. The number of deaths is now in the tens of thousands range. If a meltdown were to occur at Indian Point, the result would be thousands of times larger than what took place at Chernobyl. Now remember back to that day you watched the towers fall, now think about sitting in that same spot, but instead watching all of New York being wiped off the face of the Earth. Pretty crazy stuff.

Critics for the renewal of the power plant talk about cost and how if the plant were to close then the cost will skyrocket. According to a projection by Consolidated Edison: “If both Indian Point reactors were to close, wholesale electricity prices would rise about 12 percent, or $1.4 billion a year” (Wald). These statistics only come through the prices that customers are paying directly for the electricity. If you take a harder look into the costs of Nuclear power, you'll find a hidden fact. According to the Futurist, “Every single nuclear plant in the United States was built with taxpayer help. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to carefully assemble a nuclear power plant” (Zehner). In the end the cost of Indian Point is much larger than what people think and are told. Meanwhile, we are all sitting around believing everything anybody with any sort of authority tells us. There is more though, “Historically, as the United States added more nuclear energy capacity to its arsenal, the incremental costs of further expanding capacity didn't go down, as might be expected, but rather went up, reports energy policy scholar Gregory F. Nemet” (Zehner). Costs of building and maintaining a power plant are extremely high and although the we all might believe that it is cheap to pay for nuclear power, we are really paying more. We are paying more for something that might kill us, while we could be paying less for a renewable energy that won't. Being someone who values life, I happen to like the second option more.

                                                                 "84 Pipestone County Wind Turbines" cariliv via flickr
There are alternative means of power that would be much safer than Indian Point. Two forms of environmental efficient power are wind and solar power. When used together, studies show that these forms of power are very productive and when used together wind and solar power, “demonstrate the maximum penetration achievable in the grid managed by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), by wind- and solar-power independently, and when they are combined. By optimizing the synergy between these two intermittent resources, a maximum penetration of renewable-energy in the grid can be accomplished” (Nikolakakis). These are studies taken directly from the state of New York and shows very productive results. The benefits behind renewable power are much better than those behind nuclear power. Earthquakes won't cause enormous disasters if they hit it and an attack would result in just a loss of power instead of a loss of life. These forms of energy are also environmental friendly, where they won't cycle radioactive water into the Hudson River and won't cycle radioactive fumes into the air. Overall, the idea of wind and solar power is much smarter than nuclear power.

Critics of the power plant also argue about the reliability, and how without a Indian Point a majority of New York will be prone to power outs. For example, the chief operating officer of the New York Independent System Operator told a state senate committee that “up to 2.1 million customers in Southern New York would be vulnerable to power interruptions from 2016 to 2020 if Indian Point shut down” (Wald). It is impossible to show what the reliability will for certain be like, but studies have also shown how wind power, solar power and even water power are very productive and reliable. First off, common sense is that at any given point in the day there will be wind, sun, and there will definitely always be water. What about when we run out of the scarce materials used in power plants, then where will the reliability for the powering of New York be? Statistics from Energy Policy have shown that wind, solar and water power are excellent alternatives, “Altogether, they may become a long-term physical constraint, preventing the continuation of the usual exponential growth of energy consumption” (Garcia-Olivares). The key word in this study is long term and how we need to look ahead instead of focusing on what's happening now. We need to look at future generations and at the safety of their kids and grand kids, etc. Because Nuclear Power won't be available forever.

It has been proven that renewable-energy sources, such as wind, solar or water power can be used to replace and even possibly do a better job than the nuclear power plant. As a country, we must look back on prior disastrous events that have taken place, whether it's the melt down of a reactor at Chernobyl or an earthquake and tsunami hitting Fukushima, power plants are full of only negative features. In the beginning I made a statement about what is more important, cheaper costs and better reliability or the lives of millions of human beings. Many facts show that if the plant is shut down and renewable-energy replaces it, the customers will get both reliability and cheap costs, as well as being able to keep all of their lives. In the end do you want to be able to know you're living a safe and happy life, or do you want the alternative...


"Nagasaki Bomb 9 August 1945," The Official CTBTO Photostream via flickr

Works Cited

Garcia-Olivares, Antonio. "A Global Renewable Mix with Proven Technologies and Common Materials." Feb. 2012. Web. 1 May 2012.
Hakim, Danny. "Cuomo Takes Tough Stance on Nuclear Reactors." New York Times. 28 June 2011. Web. 5 Feb. 2012.
Indian Point and Fukushima. Youtube. Google, 27 June 2011. Web. 3 Mar. 2011. <>.
Nikolakakis, Thomas. "The Optimum Mix of Electricity from Wind- and Solar-sources in Conventional Power Systems: Evaluating the Case for New York State." Nov. 2011. Web. 1 May 2012.
Perez, Richard. "Solar Power Generation in the US: Too Expensive or a Bargain?" Nov. 2011. Web. 1 May 2012.
Revkin, Andrew C. "A Fresh Look at Nuclear Power, from Fukushima to the Hudson." New York Times. 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 5 Feb. 2012.
"Top Ten Reasons To Close Indian Point." Aldenta. Web. 1 May 2012.
Wald, Matthew L. "If Indian Point Closes, Plenty of Challenges." New York Times. 13 July 2011. Web. 5 Feb. 2012.
Zehner, Ozzie. "Nuclear Power's Unsettled Future." Mar.-Apr. 2012. Web. 1 May 2012.