Three Bills Support Secure Future Beyond Indian Point
By Congresswoman Nita Lowey
November 20, 2017
In four years, Indian Point Energy Center will close, removing a key source of revenue for the Village of Buchanan, the Town of Cortlandt, and the Hendrick Hudson School District. Communities will be forced to deal with serious environmental concerns, not the least of which is storage of spent nuclear fuel. State and local stakeholders have no shortage of questions to answer and plans to discuss prior to the plant’s closure in 2021.
Action is already under way. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Indian Point Task Force, comprised of state agency representatives, union and business leaders, and local elected officials, continues to explore development opportunities for Cortlandt.
At the same time, community leaders and local and school officials hold regular meetings about the plant’s pending closure, and have learned from representatives of communities in other states that have dealt with the ramifications of their own plant closures. Such a proactive approach, years out from Indian Point’s closure, is a positive indication of the seriousness with which our community takes the plant’s decommissioning and of our commitment to ensuring a successful transition.
As the state and localities continue to assess the implications of plant closure and explore solutions, I am working to leverage the federal government to aid these efforts and to pursue legislative remedies to help the community. On Nov. 20, I joined Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker, Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi, and Hendrick Hudson School District Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter to announce three pieces of legislation I recently introduced to address the serious concerns surrounding Indian Point’s closure.
- My first bill, the Removing Nuclear Waste from our Communities Act, would expedite the process to remove spent nuclear fuel rods from the plant site by allowing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to license interim storage facilities elsewhere in the country and to prioritize the removal of nuclear waste from sites in densely populated areas like the Lower Hudson Valley. This would address one of the primary obstacles to redeveloping the Indian Point property — that is, the storage of dry casks on-site in the absence of a central repository
- My second bill, the Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act, would maintain the NRC’s emergency response and security requirements until all of the spent fuel on the Indian Point site is moved into dry cask storage, which is the safest temporary way to store nuclear waste. This would ensure that spent fuel rods stored at the closed facility remain safe and secure until a permanent repository for nuclear waste is operational. Indian Point is closing down, but that doesn’t mean the site’s safety risks will evaporate. As long as spent nuclear fuel remains on the Indian Point site, vigorous oversight is necessary to ensure that ownership does not duck responsibility for its stewardship.
- Finally, the Redistribution of Fines to our Communities Act would redistribute safety-related fines, collected by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its enforcement program, to affected localities to support the local tax base. Communities will need all the funds they can get to help offset lower tax revenue when the plant closes, and this bill would help mitigate the economic impacts of plant closure and aid communities with economic development.
We need innovative solutions to soften the blow of Indian Point’s closure, and all levels of government must work together closely to ensure our work force, school district, and communities are protected as Indian Point closes. These bills would help ensure the federal government assists Buchanan, Cortlandt, and Hendrick Hudson School District to the fullest extent possible.
As the state and local governments continue to spearhead efforts to mitigate the impacts of Indian Point’s closing, I will remain a strong partner at the federal level to help facilitate the responsible closure of Indian Point.