Guest Columns

Officials Failed to Consider Village of Buchanan with the Save the Hudson Bill

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By Theresa Knickerbocker

As the host community to Indian Point for over 60 years, the Village of Buchanan has faced many challenges since the closure announcement of the facility in 2017.

As mayor I’ve attended every meeting since the announcement, traveled to Vermont Yankee to see firsthand a plant in active decommissioning and I continue to be in regular communication with other communities around the country dealing with the same issues.

I felt it most important to educate myself on what our community would be facing in both the near and long term. There is no training for elected officials when you lose your largest taxpayer and employer. As a member of the state’s Decommissioning Oversight Board, the first step has been understanding what decommissioning is and isn’t.

The goal that was agreed upon by all signers of both the shutdown agreement and joint proposal was for a safe, timely decommissioning and restoration of the property to help provide a strong economic future for our community. We all agree on the safe decommissioning and restoration of all 240 acres of IPEC property located in the Village of Buchanan should be completed with safety in mind. It is our home and it would be wonderful to regain river access for all to enjoy, not seen since the land was an amusement park.

The governor said after the Save the Hudson bill was signed into law that it would “protect the Hudson by restricting discharges of any radiological substances into the Hudson River in connection with decommissioning of a nuclear power plant.”

What about other industries along the Hudson and medical facilities? Will there be new legislation prohibiting those discharges? What about people who have nuclear medical testing? Will wastewater plants now be required to monitor for radiological discharges? What about the nuclear power plants in upstate New York that discharge into a lake? Will they be stopped from discharging the treated water?

Hearing the goal was to “protect the economic vitality of the Hudson River region,” I have to ask if that includes the Village of Buchanan as the host community? To the governor’s credit, her office was the only one to contact the village to ask what our concerns were. There were no other local, state or federal officials that reached out to the village when the legislation was proposed.

We are a beautiful community with good people and happen to be in the middle of another political hell storm. The joint proposal agreement of May 2021, that multiple state, local and environmental stakeholders agreed to, is now not worth the paper it’s printed on. The goalpost has been moved on what the only company willing to undertake this work thought was the agreed upon plan. The goal was for safe, timely decommissioning of Indian Point and the restoration of the property.

Timely restoration went out the window when Holtec announced that, because of the legislation, the decommissioning would go on slowdown, adding eight years to the original 12- to 15-year plan.

Leaving that property in limbo for eight years – or more – benefits no one, especially the Village of Buchanan.

We are asking our state and federal officials to work with the Village of Buchanan. We do exist.

Theresa Knickerbocker has been the mayor of the Village of Buchanan since 2014.

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