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NYS Senator Says Indian Point Closure Task Force Should Do More

WAMC, Allison Dunne

A New York state senator from the Hudson Valley believes there has been little progress regarding an action plan for the closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County. And the mayor of the village home to Indian Point is hoping for more concrete redevelopment plans.

The second public meeting of the state Indian Point Closure Task Force was held at the end of September. Republican state Senator Terrence Murphy is a task force member who attended. He says the clock is ticking toward the plant’s closure by 2021.

“Nothing is getting done,” Murphy says. “It is, it was, there’s no plan of where we need to end up or who’s doing what.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of the task force in February. He said the purpose is to provide guidance and support to the communities, taxing jurisdictions and employees affected by the planned closure. Again, Murphy.

“It’s very, very frustrating to sit there for hours upon a time to listen to the office, the governor’s office, not having an actual plan of laying it out and saying, okay, I need, this is what we’re doing with labor, this is what we’re doing with… this is our plan of how to convert the nuclear facility back over to something else.”

Rich Azzopardi is spokesman for Governor Cuomo.

“We can’t lose focus on what drove the need to close Indian Point in the first place. That fact that it is smack in the middle of a large metropolitan area of the United States with no viable evacuation plan for 20 million people coupled with a very troubling history of radiological leaks and emergency shutdowns,” says Azzopardi. “We’re still three years away from closure and the task force is making great progress. We encourage all stakeholders to actively work together to plan for a smooth transition on behalf of the community and all New Yorkers.”

The first meeting was in May, during which members initiated the process of hiring an independent consultant to understand site reuse options and school funding gaps and carry out continued discussions with local labor unions on retraining opportunities. Murphy says during the second meeting, D.L. English Consulting was introduced as the consulting firm hired by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to conduct a site reuse study. Task force member Theresa Knickerbocker is mayor of Buchanan, where Indian Point is based.

“Well, we are very happy the state has hired a consultant to look at the potential reuse of the Indian Point property,” Knickerbocker says. “But, honestly, I’m very disappointed there has been no meeting set up with the Village of Buchanan, which is losing approximately 50 percent of its revenue. The state has already met with the Town of Cortlandt, which is only looking at a 2 percent loss.”

The September meeting was held in Cortlandt.

“What the main goal is, as of April 2018, the consultant is supposed to come back with some type of a plan or their thoughts on what redevelopment can be done to offset the loss to our tax base,” Knickerbocker says.

Murphy contends there should have been plans for decommissioning, replacement power, reuse, revenue shortfalls, job retention and economic development before the 2,000 megawatt plant’s closure was announced. Knickerbocker says several meetings have taken place locally, in addition to those of the state task force.

“There’s just been many, many meetings and it’s more informational; I think that’s what’s happening,” says Knickerbocker. “And I think some people are getting frustrated that there’s not a plan or direction as of yet.”

Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, whose district includes Indian Point, acknowledges the state task force’s role and speaks to her focus.

“I’m aware of job losses. I’m aware of impact on communities that were affected by this announcement,” says Lowey. “And we’re working very hard to see what we can do to make sure that there is revenue coming from other jobs into the community. This is a real challenge, but I’ve never hesitated that it should be closed.”

The announcement of an agreement among Cuomo, Indian Point owner Entergy and Riverkeeper to close the plant came in January.

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