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Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New Yorkmarker just south of Peekskillmarker. It sits on the east bank of the Hudson River, 24 miles north of New York City, New York. The plant is owned and operated by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation and includes two operating Westinghouse pressurized water reactors - Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3. It also contains the permanently shut down Indian Point Unit 1 reactor. Total employment at the site is 1,683.

Unit 1

Indian Point 1, built by Consolidated Edison Co., was the first of three reactors at this location. It was a 275-megawatt pressurized water reactor and was issued an operating license on March 26, 1962 and started operations on Sept. 16, 1962. The first core at the Indian Point power station used a Thorium-based fuel, but it did not live up to expectations. The plant was operated with Uranium Oxide fuel for the remainder of its operations.

On June 5, 1970, Unit 1 had a major plumbing problem which required the use of 700 men (for a few minutes each) over a 7 month period to weld in the radioactive area. On March 8, 1972, pressures in the primary cooling circuit increased by 30%.

The Unit 1 reactor was shut down on October 31, 1974 because the emergency core cooling system did not meet regulatory requirements. All spent fuel was removed from the reactor vessel by January 1976. The licensee, Entergy, plans to decommission Unit 1 with Unit 2.

Units 2 and 3

The two additional reactors, Indian Point 2 and 3, were built in 1974 and 1976.

A test of the plant's alert sirens was held on September 13, 2006, with 154 of 156 sirens operating properly. Of the two failures—both in Rockland County--one siren sounded but did not rotate, and the other experienced a transmitter failure. Entergy replaced the current sirens with a $10 million high-tech warning system, scheduled for early-2007 - however, it missed the target date and the NRC proposed a $130,000 fine.
The new sirens that were installed at the power plant.
On September 16, 2009, another four-minute siren test was held. It was found that about 10% of the sirens failed to sound.

On May 2, 2007 the NRC announced that the "License Renewal Application for Indian Point Nuclear Plant [is] Available for Public Inspection". Entergy has formally begun the lengthy process of applying to have the operating licenses of each unit extended by 20 years.

On March 10, 2009 the Indian Point Power Plant was awarded the fifth consecutive top safety rating for annual operations by the Federal regulators.This was announced a couple of days before Plant 3 was going to be temporary shutdown for refueling. This was marked that it was the first time in 2 years that the reactor needed to be shutdown for refueling. In doing so during the refueling this gave them time to address some key issues that were brought up last year.


The plants are protected by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including a national guard base within a mile of the plant, as well as by specialized and highly trained private off-site security forces. Plant security across the country has been increased since 9/11. Nuclear plant security is tested by federal officials, including mock assault exercises overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), to assess Indian Point's defenses in the event of an armed assault. In September 2006, the Security Department successfully completed Force-on-Force exercises for the NRC.


Interest in shutting down Indian Point dates back to 1979 following the Three Mile Island accidentmarker. However, some industry groups have said that shutting Indian Point would put a severe strain on New York City's electricity supply. Entergy (the operator of the plant), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the NRC say the plant is safe.

Public health concerns about the plant have been raised by activists, specifically in terms of radioactive contamination. On February 15, 2000, the Indian Point II power plant vented a small amount of radioactive steam when an aging steam generator ruptured. The NRC initially reported that no radioactive material was released, but later changed their report to say that there was a leak, but not of a sufficient amount to threaten public safety.

New York metropolitanmarker newspapers reported on September 11, that American Airlines Flight 11 flew almost exactly over the Indian Point Energy Center en route to and no more than eight minutes from the World Trade Centermarker. Mohamed Atta (one of the 9/11 hijackers/plotters) had considered nuclear facilities for targeting in a terrorist attack. Entergy says it is prepared for a terrorist attack, and demonstrated that a large airliner crash into the containment building would not cause reactor damage. Following 9/11 the NRC required operators of Nuclear facilities in the United States to examine the effects and provide planned responses to terrorist events.

In 2003, Directors of (FEMA) Michael D. Brown and Joe Allbaugh certified the plant for operation and approved the evacuation plan. FEMA recently re-approved the evacuation plan for Indian Point, although the environmental activist group Riverkeeper contends that local residents and first responders question its effectiveness. Riverkeeper has lobbied for the plant's closure, criticizing, among other things, its allegedly unworkable emergency plan.

Some environmental activists feel the lack of greenhouse gases emitted during nuclear power generation outweighs the alleged security risks. On February 23, 2007, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore wrote an opinion piece in the New York Post in favor of keeping Indian Point open, saying: "I strongly support renewal of the license for the Indian Point nuclear plants in Westchester, which provides 30 percent or so of the electricity used in the New York metro area."

A fire occurred in a nonnuclear part of the facility, outside in the transformer yard on April 6, 2007. One of the two main transformers for Unit 3 experienced a failure. Transformer failures of this type are usually characterized by a low order explosion and a subsequent fire. There were no injuries and the plant's own fire brigade extinguished the fire. There was a previous fire in 1971 that did between five and ten million dollars of damage to the Indian Point Two reactor. The fire was set in an auxiliary building (housing control panels, cables, and pumps) while Unit Two was fueled but not yet critical and Unit One was operating nearby.

On April 23, 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission fined the owner of the Indian Point nuclear plant $130,000 for failing to meet a deadline for a new emergency siren plan. The 150 sirens at the plant are meant to alert residents within 10 miles to a plant emergency.

On November 7, 2006, John Hall was elected Congressman in the 19th District of New York State, which is the district where the Indian Point nuclear power plant is located. Hall, formerly a musician, performed at the 1979 No Nukes concert in Battery Park where half a million people gathered in support of a shut down of Indian Point.

On September 23, 2007, an antinuclear group filed legal papers with the NRC opposing the relicensing of the Indian Point 2 nuclear reactor in Westchester County. The anti-nuclear group Friends United for Sustainable Energy, or FUSE, based out of New York, contends that for decades, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and its predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission, improperly held the Indian Point reactors, which are in Buchanan, N.Y., to less stringent design requirements than those the government applied to newer plants.

On December 1, 2007 Westchester County Executive Andrew J. Spano, New York Attorney General Cuomo, and New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer called a press conference which included New York State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, Congressman John Hall, Congresswoman Nita Lowey and many other elected New York officials. Advocacy groups Clearwater and Riverkeeper were also included. The purpose of the press conference was to make clear the united opposition on all levels of government to the re licensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants. The Department of Environmental Control and the Office of the Attorney General jointly filed 32 Contentions, or reasons, requesting a hearing on this matter as part of the process put forth by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. One section of the contentions detailed ways to replace the electricity generated at Indian Point.

As of January 2008, Entergy is to be fined $650,000 for "being too slow" to ensure public warning systems had back-up power at Indian Point. Entergy failed to upgrade the mandatory emergency warning system as required by the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The civil penalty of $650,000 proposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for Entergy is ten times the base level for this class of violation.

On September 20, 2009, a test of this alert system frightened nearby residents with a mechanical voice stating "Emergency!" Plant officials disabled the voice mechanism and said the message “shouldn't have happened.”

Media coverage

  • HBO aired a television dramatization surrounding the controversy called Indian Point: Imagining The Unimaginable. [120483] It first aired on September 9, 2004, and was directed by Rory Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy is the sister of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Mr. Kennedy is the legal consul for the anti-nuclear environmental advocacy group, Riverkeeper.

  • The New York Times published a story on September 24, 2007 reporting on the rigorous legal opposition Entergy faces as the company announces its intent to request a 20-year licensing extension for its aging Indian Point 2 reactor.[120484]

  • Frontline created an episode entitled Nuclear Reaction with associated legal references. [120485]

See also


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