|Fig. 1: The Indian Point Energy Center as seen from across the Hudson River (Source: Wikimedia Commons)|
The Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York has recently become a hot button topic in the state of New York. The three-unit nuclear power plant, owned by the Entergy Corporation, is located just thirty-six miles from Midtown Manhattan. Because of the plant's close proximity to New York City, one of the world's most densely populated urban areas, it plays a central economic role for state, but it would pose a health risk to city inhabitants if an accident were to occur on site. In this work, both the Indian Point Energy Center's economic impacts in the surrounding New York community and the potential health concerns regarding the nuclear power plant will be discussed in hopes of illustrating an up to date overview on the debate regarding the plant's future.
The Indian Point Energy Center is an economic hub for the greater New York area as the nuclear power plant employs roughly 1,000 people on site. Furthermore, the power plant running helps stimulate another 3,500 jobs throughout New York while also stimulating more than 5,000 outside the state - thus the power plant yields more than 10,000 jobs for Americans.  The 5,000 plus jobs supported by the power plant also impact the nearby economy as these individuals have more spending power and thus can help to further stimulate local businesses. Indian Point Energy Center not only employs thousands of New Yorkers, but as a nuclear power plant it also provides a viable alternative to emitting carbon dioxide fumes while providing emission-free electricity to the state. Furthermore, according to a report by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Indian Point Energy Center has operated at more than 93 percent capacity - well above the industry industry average and other forms of electric generation - while generating $1.3 billion of yearly economic output in its local counties and also contributing upwards of $30 million per year in property taxes.  Clearly, Indian Point plays an important economic role in the New York ecosystem because of its place as an efficient electric power and job producer.
Despite the Indian Point Energy Center's major economic contributions to the area, New Yorkers must also consider the power plant's environmental concerns as there are legitimate issues regarding its radiation emittance and threat to nearby wildlife.  Indian Point has protective screens that are designed to filter into the plant's cooling system, however, these screens are not as effective as they seem. According to a report by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, over 90 percent of the striped bass that hit the screens survive, but only 38 percent of the alewives that encounter the streams live to tell the tale.  Furthermore, the 2011 disaster surrounding a nuclear power plant in Fukushima has brought to light the risk of having nuclear power plants near densely populated areas. Many critics of the Indian Point Energy Center believe that it should close simply because an accident at the plant could have devastating ramifications for the wildlife in the nearby Hudson River (see Figure 1) and the nearby New York metropolitan area.
New York state officials, spearheaded by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and representatives from the Entergy Corporation have recently reached an agreement that will close both Indian Point nuclear reactors by 2021 - with one reactor closing by April 2020 and the other shutting down by April 2021, respectively.  New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has assessed that a potential nuclear accident at the Indian Point Energy Center would require upwards of $1 trillion and 1.5 million workers to effectively handle the situation and has adamantly called for Indian Point's closure.  Governor Cuomo has recognized the economic significance of the nuclear power plant, but reiterates that "The safety of New Yorkers is the first responsibility of state government when making any decision." 
© Roberto Arguello. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.
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