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State DEC Gets Earful At Indian Point Public Hearing
Hundreds of people were on hand Tuesday night for a hearing in Cortlandt Manor in which the State Department of Environmental Protection got public input on the Indian Point nuclear power plants' impact on Hudson River Wildlife. At issue is the DEC's April decision to deny plant owner Entergy a water permit for the two plants, thus putting its re-licensing in jeopardy.
At that time, the DEC issued a 23 page report outlining reasons for the denial, saying operation of the plants kills too many fish, many of them threatened and endangered species. It's calling on Entergy to build special cooling towers to mitigate that.
Currently, Indian Point uses more than 2 billion gallons of water from the Hudson River daily to cool the plant. It then discharges the water back into the River. The DEC says both the intake and discharge of thousands of gallons of River water impact the spawning, growth and habitat of aquatic wildlife.
The cost of the closed cycle cooling system is estimated to be more than a billion dollars.
Entergy instead prefers to install a wedgewire system, which is installed beneath the surface of the water, which it claims will serve to similarly protect wildlife. It's estimated to cost about $200,000.
Westchester County Legislator Tom Abinanti (D-Greenburgh) was among those who spoke at the public hearing said "Entergy does not own the Hudson River. It belongs to all of us. Like any other business, it should pay for what it uses. If the cost is to set up an environmentally sound process, to cool the plant, then that it what it has to do."
Phillip Musegaas, attorney and Hudson River Program Director at Riverkeeper disputed Entergy's argument that it cannot afford the more than one billion dollar price tag associated with a closed cycle cooling system. Said Musegaas, "The DEC and economists have projected that Indian Point projected profits over the next 20 years, are anywhere from 17 to 24 billion dollars. You do the math."
Musegass slso claims the best way to protect Hudson River aquatic life is using a closed cycle cooling system as the DEC is proposing. Musegaas argued, "The cylindrical wedgewire system that Entergy is proposing is not proven,"adding, "There's no nuclear power plant in the U.S. that's using it."
Mike Tracy with Local 91 of the Asbestos Workers and Insulators Union which serves Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Rockland and Dutchess Counties, disagreed saying, "It is quite ironic that the State DEC is promulgating a new policy which could end up harming the very environment it seeks to protect."
Others, such as Buchanan resident John Vargo disputed the DEC's claim that Entergy's operation of Indian Point is decimating large numbers of the fish population. Vargo, who says he's been fishing in the Hudson River since he was 4, says, "I can't believe I'm on the same planet as most of the people in this room are. I see the Hudson River in a totally different light. It is in great shape, there's plenty of crabs, there's wonderful fish."
Entergy is appealing the DEC ruling which is putting its 2013-2035 re-licensing in jeopardy. An Albany judge is considering the appeal.
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