Community Grapples With Nuclear Power Plant Closing

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Host Intro: In January, Governor Cuomo’s office announced plans to shut down the Indian Point Energy Center. The nuclear plant supplies power to New York City and the eastern seaboard. But for years the plant has struggled with coding and safety violations, and it’s less than an hour’s drive from midtown Manhattan. Cuomo says the facility will be closed in just four years. So where will New Yorkers turn for a replacement source of power? No one really knows. Pia Peterson has the story.

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PETERSON 1: Gary Shaw and his wife Jeanne are both in their sixties. They’re retired, which gives them time to focus on one of their passions, anti-nuclear activism. **use your voice to stress anti-nuclear activists**

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SHAW GARY 1: We’re right across the river from Indian Point right now, we’re going to find a good spot where you can get an unobstructed view.

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PETERSON 2: We’re in the Shaw’s car. Gary Shaw is behind the wheel, wearing a zip-up hoodie and a big jacket over a grey t-shirt that says “We All Live Downstream.”

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((SOUND:Car ambi, blinkers, fade under))

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SHAW GARY 2: There’s the monster.

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PETERSON 3: Indian Point is home to TWO nuclear reactors. And it’s big. There are two huge domes and squat smokestacks on the Hudson riverbank. It’s just a fifteen minute drive from Cortlandt, NY and the Shaw’s house.

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SHAW GARY 3: This is our backyard.

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PETERSON 4: Like the Shaws, Governor Cuomo has been trying to shut down Indian Point for over a decade. He’s called it “a ticking time bomb,” citing concerns over multiple safety violations and the potential for a terrorist attack on a nuclear facility so close to New York City. The majority of the power it produces is sold to towns across New England. But a portion of that energy comes down to power the city. The plant says it supplies up to a quarter of the city’s energy needs, though environmental groups argue that number is likely much closer to 10%. Either way, how will the city and the Eastern Seaboard replace those megawatts of power? Cortlandt county supervisor Linda Puglisi says, well, she’d like to know, too.

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PUGLISI 1: These are all questions we have for the governor and his staff, and so It’s really disconcerting that we don’t have any kind of answers or any kind of plans…yet. **cut um**

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PETERSON 5: Puglisi has been county supervisor for 26 years. She ‘s been known to say that during her tenure, if so much as a screw fell off of the Indian Point plant, she’d get a call about it. But the decision to close the plant was made without her. Governor Cuomo’s office, the plant’s owner Entergy, and Riverkeeper, an environmental nonprofit, met behind closed doors to draft and sign the paperwork. Puglisi says she felt blindsided by a decision that will affect her constituents. It’s not just a matter of energy. The plant employs 1,200 workers in a town of 40,000.

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PUGLISI 2: We are very concerned about their jobs, what happens when the doors close.

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PETERSON 7: The plant is the town’s largest taxpayer. The school system receives a third of its budget from Indian Point funds.The town library and the fire department also rely on that tax money, and many local businesses depend on plant workers and their money flowing through the town.

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PUGLISI 3: So how are we going to make up that money. Is a big question.

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PETERSON 6: And here’s another one. Puglisi says removing all the spent nuclear fuel from the plant will take years, even decades. And then there’s the matter of where to store it. The US currently has no facilities to store this kind of toxic nuclear waste. Governor Cuomo’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. Many in the town say they hope their new energy source will be a clean one. In the meantime Puglisi and the Shaws are waiting to hear from Albany.

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Governor Cuomo’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. So far no plans have been made public to redevelop the plant’s current site, or, for a replacement source of energy. Puglisi says removing all the spent nuclear fuel from the plant will take years, even decades. And then there’s the matter of where to store it. The US currently has no facilities to store this kind of toxic nuclear waste. And if it’s replaced by another source of dirty fuel instead of a renewable like solar, that doesn’t help with anyone’s concerns.

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Pia Peterson, Columbia Radio News.

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