Now that an earthquake in Japan has caused a "situation" at a nuclear power plant that may take weeks to resolve, some in New York City are remembering that we live closer to a nuclear power plant than any other city in the country. There have been repeated attempts to force the Indian Point nuclear power plant to close in the past (former mayor Rudy Giulian declared it safe, then-Senator Hillary Clinton had her doubts), and now Governor Cuomo is seizing the opportunity to try and close it. It's old news that the plant is at the intersection of two fault lines, but the unfolding catastrophe in Japan may give Cuomo the momentum he needs.
"Frankly, that was surprising to me," Cuomo told reporters yesterday, referring to the plant's proximity to the fault. "It should be closed. This plant in this proximity to the city was never a good risk." Substantial earthquakes are very infrequent, but all it takes is one good one to turn NYC into Escape from LA. NBC reports that the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has calculated the risk of catastrophic earthquakes causing failures at U.S. nuclear plants, and Indian Point ranks highest, with one in 10,000 odds.
Indian Point is 35 miles from NYC, and supplies an estimated 30 percent of the city's energy. Over the years, there have been problems at the plant, including an explosion last year, radioactive material leaking from a nuclear-waste storage pool in 2005; and a steam generator tube rupture in 2000, which flooded the Hudson with radioactive water. Ironically, those who live closest to the plant seem the least concerned; at least that's the impression you get from 70-year-old Charles Lynch, who tells the Times, "I’ve been here too long to worry about whether it’s safe. You have to trust that it is. The only people who complain about it are the people who move here from New York City." Damn city-slickers and their apocalyptic paranoia!