OSSINING, N.Y. -- For years, Riverkeeper had been a thorn in the side of Indian Point, a nuclear power plant in Buchanan.
On Monday, Entergy, which owns Indian Point, announced it will close the nuclear plant by 2021 as part of an agreement with Riverkeeper, an Ossining-based organization dedicated to defending New York's waterways.
As part of the agreement that was brokered with Entergy and New York State, Riverkeeper agreed to drop its lawsuits against the plant. Riverkeeper will be retaining the right to overseeing the closure and making sure Entergy remains compliant.
Riverkeeper applauded the announcement and said it will make the region safer and greener.
"With the closure of the plant, there will be an increase in renewable energy and energy efficiency.," Paul Galley, president of Riverkeeper, said in a press release. "Closing the plant will be carbon neutral or have no appreciable impact on carbon loading. There are new, clean sources of energy set to replace the energy generated by the plant - which will also provide new, well-paying jobs in the region."
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino blasted the agreement, criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Riverkeeper for negotiating the agreement in secrecy. Astorino and others only found out about the closure from a report in the New York Times.
"They got to cut a good deal for themselves while leaving tax and ratepayers to hold the bag," Astorino said. "The joke is on us."
Cliff Weathers, a spokesman for Riverkeeper, said Riverkeeper was involved with the negotiations because it involved dropping their lawsuits against Indian Point. It was Entergy's decision to close the plant because it was not profitable, Weathers said.
"It's categorically unfair to say it was three men in a room," Weathers said. "That's not the way it happened. This was a dispute between three parties that was settled."
At a press conference Monday, Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, said the plant was no longer viable to remain open.
For years, Riverkeeper has accused Indian Point causing the death of billion of lifeforms in the Hudson River by leaking radioactive tritium from its units. Entergy has denied that its units are leaking.
"It's the mother of all killers," Weathers said. "This is important to us. The biggest reasons for closing the plant are public safety, and the health and ecology of the river."
The power Indian Point produces can be replaced whether it be from solar energy, wind energy, other renewable sources, or energy from Canada, Weathers said.
"These new technologies make the transmission of electricity a lot more efficient," Weathers said. "It saves hundreds of megawatts. For people worried the power can't be replaced, there are studies that state this can be done."
Gallay said that peak demand in the region wil have declined by more than the 2,000 megawatts the plant gnerates. The economic impact will be minimal, Gallay said- $1 to $2 a month.
“Which is a small price to pay for minimizing the risk that this plant poses. Going forward, new efficiency and renewable energy projects will drive still greater savings for consumers, thanks to aggressive energy investments by the state," Gallay said.
Weathers said he is concerned about the economic impact and the loss of jobs but that Riverkeeper is an organization that is concerned about the environment. The Hendrick Hudson School District will lose $23.3 million in tax revenues. The Village of Buchanan gets 46 percent of its tax revenues from Indian Point.
"That's more for the state to deal with," Weathers said.
Even when the power plants close, there will still be a lot of work to be done, Weathers said.
"It's going to be a long process to decommission the site," Weathers said. They need to reduce the radioactivity and protect the public from radioactive releases."
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