Poll: New Yorkers Oppose Closing Nuclear Power Plant

Published September 26, 2011

New York residents in the vicinity of the Indian Point nuclear power plant oppose closing down the plant on the bank of the Hudson River, a Marist poll reports.

Indian Point is a three-unit nuclear power station located in Buchanan, New York, on the east bank of the Hudson River, 38 miles north of New York City.

Local, Statewide Support

The Marist poll, released Aug. 16, reported 49 percent of those living in the Hudson Valley and New York City want to keep the nuclear facility open. Only 40 percent think Indian Point should be closed.

Statewide, the poll found 55 percent of registered voters support nuclear power, with just 34 percent opposing it.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has called for closing the plant, which provides 25 percent of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County.

Cuomo Raises Disaster Fears

Cuomo and other critics have expressed concerns about the safety of Indian Point in light of the 9/11 terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and the 9.0 earthquake that disabled Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.

“Entergy’s investment of more than a half-billion dollars in recent years to upgrade safety and security, and rigorous independent inspections by multiple inspectors on site fulltime helps ensure that Indian Point is safe,” countered James F. Steets, a spokesman for Entergy, the parent company of Indian Point Power Plant. “Following 9/11, Entergy has spent $145 million on physical improvements to security at the plant—right now it’s a virtual fortress.” 

“Despite what Gov. Cuomo says, the incredibly powerful Fukushima earthquake and resultant tsunami showed just how safe nuclear power is,” said Jay Lehr, science director of The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News. “Keep in mind that most of the damage in Fukushima was caused by the tsunami, which is not a threat 38 miles up the Hudson River. And even with all the tsunami damage, there has not been a single death or serious illness reported in relation to the nuclear power plant.”

Less Power, Lower Air Quality

The New York Independent System Operators warn that shutting down Indian Point will make it increasingly difficult to provide enough electricity to serve the state during the hottest parts of the summer. In addition, a New York City Department of Environmental Protection study has indicated that without Indian Point, the cost of electricity will rise and air quality will deteriorate.

Economy Would Suffer

Indian Point and its parent company, Entergy, account for $1 billion a year in local economic activity. Studies have shown closing Indian Point would cost more than 11,000 jobs and a loss to the region of more than $2 billion in lost wages, says Debbie Malone, executive director of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce.

“Indian Point provides about 1,100 jobs for highly trained operators. The plant pays approximately $50 million annually in taxes. Without Indian Point, we’d be faced with massive tax increases at a time when all cities and municipalities around the country are hurting,” Malone said.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Texas.