By Reverend Donna Schaper
There are 30 million people near enough to the Indian Point Power Plant to be affected by any difficulty or disaster there. But a disaster is now in the making.
According to Mina Hamilton, journalist and expert on energy policy, the plan is for natural gas giant, Spectra Energy, to construct a new high-pressure, 42-inch gas pipeline in the immediate vicinity of the Indian Point nuclear power plants. The pipeline would carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale wells up into New England and then to liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in Canada. From there, the gas would be exported to Germany, France, India, Japan, and elsewhere around the planet.
The Spectra Energy Project, also known as the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) project, has been opposed by local citizens, New York State Assembly and Senate members, Westchester County legislators, Town Board members, Town Supervisors, Congressmembers Engel and Lowey and many, many scientific experts. It has been questioned by Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. The Union of Concerned of Scientists, Greenpeace, the Nuclear Information Resource Service, Riverkeeper, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), Clearwater, Sane Energy Project, and dozens of other environ-mental organizations have all weighed in. The Indian Point 11 who recently engaged in civil disobedience at the site are the most recent heroes and heroines of the battle.
Despite the extraordinary risks and the veritable tsunami of opposition, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved the project in 2014, as did the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2015.
Construction began in the fall of 2015—on the west side of the Hudson River.
Then, the Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, on February 27, 2016 called upon FERC “to stay” its approval for the project. This move is the best move our governor has made to date.
The Indian Point reactors were built in bedrock. In fact, the plant is surrounded by old rock quarries. There’s the old Mohegan Quarry north of the plant. It’s “honey-colored” limestone was used in the construction of St. John the Divine’s Cathedral in Manhattan and for the U.S. Capitol building in the nation’s capital.
Across the Hudson River is an active granite quarry. And, immediately south of Indian Point is what’s known as Verplanck Quarry—a mined-out and abandoned quarry that became a beautiful, azure-blue lake. The old Verplanck Quarry is nestled so close to the reactor that one can see Indian Point Unit 2’s concrete dome and the red-and-white striped concrete stack—since removed—to the north.
According to Spectra, this is the place where Spectra is to bring its pipeline (that will have crossed underneath the Hudson River at about 100 feet below the river’s bed) onto the shore. It will be the location of horizontal directional drilling (HDD)—the complicated horizontal drilling necessitated by said burrowing beneath the river. Remarkably, regulators have ignored the issue of whether any of Spectra’s construction techniques could induce a seismic event.
No one seems to have remembered that, at Indian Point, we have the very real issue of two major fault lines that cross in the vicinity of the plant. First, there is the Ramapo Fault. It has been described as a “braid of fractures” and then, there is the Stamford-Peekskill Fault just north of the plant.
Would you blast there? Governor Cuomo, thank you for protecting us. Keep up the good work.