Local officials learned last week that a portion of site that houses the Indian Point nuclear power plants in the Village of Buchanan could be set aside for possible development while the facility is being decommissioned.
During the second meeting of the New York State Indian Point Closure Task Force at Cortlandt Town Hall, state representative John Sipos revealed federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations allow for segments of property to be “early released.”
“It sets out a pathway,” Sipos explained. “At 240 acres, the Indian Point site has one of the smallest footprints of any nuclear power site in the United States.”
“That’s really helpful for us,” Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi said.
In early January, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Entergy and Riverkeeper stunned local officials when they announced Indian Point would close permanently in 2021 since it was no longer profitable enough for Entergy.
The announcement sent immediate financial shockwaves since Entergy is a major funding source, providing 33% of annual revenue to the Hendrick Hudson School District, 46% to the Village of Buchanan, 64% to the Verplanck Fire Department. 28% to the Hendrick Hudson Free Library, 2% to the Town of Cortlandt and 1% to Westchester County.
In May, an Entergy official said decommissioning of the plants and any potential reuse of the site was likely decades away after the planned shutdown in 2021. Mike Twomey, vice president of external affairs for Entergy, owners of Indian Point since 2000, also revealed Entergy had 60 years to complete the decommissioning process after Unit 3 stops operating on April 30, 2021.
At last week’s gathering of the 23-member task force, Meghan Taylor, regional director of the Mid-Hudson Region for Empire State Development, said while developers have expressed interest in vacant parcels in town, Cortlandt’s lack of sewer infrastructure is a “major impediment to future economic growth.”
“We need more infrastructure to bring in office parks, industry, etc.,” Puglisi said. “In four years, five years, 10 years, we don’t ever want it to be a distressed community. We won’t let it happen.”
State Senator Terrence Murphy (R/Yorktown) said a separate fund should be allocated in the state budget specifically for Indian Point’s closure and expressed frustration with the lack of progress and lack of an action plan from the task force.
“It has already been eight months since the State and Entergy announced its intent to completely shut down Indian Point by 2021.We should have had plans for decommissioning, replacement power, reuse, revenue shortfalls, job retention and economic development before the closure of the plant was announced,” Murphy said. “We are playing defense instead of offense. There’s got to be a foundation of what is going to happen in this community. This has got to be front and center to have something carved out for Indian Point in all aspects.”
D.L. English Consulting, Inc. was introduced to the task force as the consulting firm hired by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to conduct a site reuse study.
Meanwhile, Jenean Eichenholtz, a member of Power Through Cortlandt, an advocacy group formed to raise public awareness about the closure of Indian Point, demanded that residents have a voice as the plant’s closure moves forward.
“We need to make sure that our voices are not lost in the process,” she said. “It is vital that our residents plan for the future, which will be ours.”
The next meeting of the task force is scheduled for December 19. On October 19, during the next scheduled meeting of the Community Unity Task Force in Cortlandt, the NRC will be in attendance, along with Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D).
“We have a lot of questions for them (NRC),” said Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker.