Editorials

“Shoreham’s Lessons for Indian Point”

“To the Editor:

Matthew C. Cordaro’s idealized vision of the Shoreham nuclear plant (“Powerful Regrets,” Op-Ed, Feb. 11) paints a picture of a panacea that never existed in reality. The original cost estimates for Shoreham construction were $65 million to $75 million and by the late 1970s, 10 years before the plant could go online, the construction costs had already reached $2 billion. Blaming the decommissioning for high electric rates seems narrowly focused.

Further, the portrait of the nuclear industry as having “stellar safety records” has been contradicted numerous times. Since all of Long Island’s water supply comes from a series of four interconnected aquifers, one can only wonder what the public reaction would be if Shoreham had an unknown number of ongoing radioactive water leaks, that have been occurring for an unknown amount of time, with an unknown amount of irradiated water having leaked into the groundwater as is still occurring at Indian Point.

The operating licenses at the Indian Point nuclear plant expire in 2013 and 2015. This should be ample time to devise alternatives to a problem-plagued nuclear plant, such as upgrading a degraded transmission system to better share the electrical output from around the region and development of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency policies. And if Indian Pont is so safe, why are the plant’s owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission opposing the independent safety assessment that has been proposed in Congress?

Gary Shaw
Croton-on-Hudson

To the Editor:

Matthew C. Cordaro dismisses the safety concerns of millions of rational New Yorkers, calling the threat of a serious accident or attack at the Indian Point nuclear plant an “extremely unlikely piece of Hollywood fiction.”

If this threat is so unlikely, why do both the nuclear power industry and our federal government acknowledge that there is no insurance company capable of insuring Indian Point? If nuclear plants are so safe, why must the industry be indemnified against accidents by the Price-Anderson Act, forcing the American taxpayer to cover most of the risk?

I’ll reassess the risk of Indian Point when Entergy is able to purchase an insurance policy that covers the hundreds of billions of dollars of damages that would result from a major release of radiation. That policy would soothe my fears much more than these cost-free assurances of safety that one incident would so quickly invalidate.

Ken Swensen
Pound Ridge”

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