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Indian Point Closure Will End Controversial 54-Year History

Indian Point
Indian Point Photo Credit: File

BUCHANAN, N.Y. -- The announcement that Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant in Buchanan, will close in 2021 ends a long and often controversial chapter.

Officials from Entergy and New York State agreed to shut down both nuclear reactors at the Indian Point facility by April 2021, according to multiple reports. One of the reactors will be shuttered in 2020 with the second to close down by 2021.

Indian Point began operation in 1962, as a 275-megawatt pressurized water reactor. The facility, called Indian Point 1, was shut down in 1974 since it did not meet regulatory requirements. Indian Point Units 2 and 3 were built in 1974 and 1976, respectively. 

In 2000, Entergy bought Unit 3 from the New York Power Authority for $967 million and purchased Indian Point Unit 2 from Con Edison in 2001 for $502 million and $100 million in fuel.

The power plant has often been a lightning rod for criticism from politicians and environmental groups, who oppose its operation amid concerns about the plant being in such a densely populated area, a potential target for terrorists and its impact on the Hudson River. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made closing Indian Point one of his priorities when he was elected in 2010. Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) have also opposed the plant.

Recently, Indian Point has had its fair share of incidents. In September, oil spilled from the plant into the Hudson River. The oil was not radioactive, Entergy officials said and Cuomo said there was no reason for concern.

A leaking water pipe led to Indian Point Unit 2 being shut down over the summer. The shutdown occurred after plant engineers found a small leak of Hudson River water from a pipe in a non-radioactive system. Entergy said there was no threat to the public.

Last spring, Entergy announced that an inspection had found issues with hundreds of bolts. The "issues" consisted of faulty or missing bolts found on the face of the removable liner, not on bolts along the liner’s edges. During the inspection, engineers identified the missing bolts, and bars meant to hold them in place, and other degradation requiring replacement of the bolts.

In Feb. 2016, a leak caused increased tritium amounts in groundwater near Indian Point. Entergy said there was no threat to public health or safety, while Cuomo said it was unacceptable. 

In Dec. 2015, a shutdown of Indian Point Unit 3 was blamed on "bird streaming," which caused an electrical disturbance. 

The Indian Point facility is capable of supplying a quarter of the electricity consumed by New York City and Westchester County. Plans to replace this energy output are not yet clear, but hydropower from Canada or wind-generated power from within New York are potential replacement options.

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