In Its Attack on Indian Point, Riverkeeper Misses the Point

To the Editor,
In his recent letter Looking Past Indian Point, Riverkeeper Takes a Pass on Gas [June 2020], Richard Webster [of Riverkeeperpaints a picture of energy in New York that bears no resemblance to reality.  

Nearly every statement he makes in defending the closure of Indian Point, including deactivation of Reactor 2 in April, is incorrect. 

Contrary to Webster’s claim, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) did not say in its 2017 deactivation assessment of Indian Point that New York had enough replacement power to avoid new gas-fired generation.  

Dr. Leonard Rodberg

Rather, NYISO concluded that additional power plants would be needed in a few short years to maintain system reliabilityThe only reason they might not be needed immediately is because existing fossilfuel plants in the region have capacity to burn more gas in the meantime.  

Furthermore, the new power plants that Webster claims do not need to be built—CPV [Competitive Power Ventures] and Cricket Valleyhave been built and are now operating. Whether burned in new plants or old ones, gas is replacing Indian Point. 

Webster goes on to write that enough “clean energy and efficiency” has already been installed to replace Reactor 2.  

However, renewable energy and efficiency measures implemented prior to Reactor 2’s deactivation were not sitting in a lockbox, waiting to replace nuclear power. They had been put to good use reducing the need for fossil fuels. Redeeming them now to “replace” Indian Point means that those benefits are forfeited and more fossil fuels get burned 

Webster then asserts that all of Indian Point’s power will be rapidly replaced by “demand reduction, additional transmission, and new renewables.”  

Howevermore carbon-free electricity was lost by closing one half of Indian Point than annually produced by wind and solar in the entire state 

Likewise, transmission does not replace generation, and reductions in demand caused by a pandemic are not conditions to bank on for the future.  

Keith Schue

Recently NYISO found that to achieve goals of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), including the electrification of vehicles and heating systems, demand for electricity in the next twenty years could increase 40%. Moreover, the CLCPA requires that all electricity by 2040 be carbon-free. Clearly, New York cannot afford to lose any carbon-free energy if those goals are to be met. 

By pushing to close Indian Point, Riverkeeper has hindered critical progress on climate change and forced dirty fossilfuel power plants in the metropolitan area—including those like Ravenswood in Environmental Justice communitiesto operate longer than necessary 

Rather than shutting down Reactor 3 next year, New York should examine the mistake made in Aprilkeep Indian Point running, and focus on the real crises our state and planet face. 

Keith Schue
Leonard Rodberg

Keith Schue is an electrical engineer.  

Leonard Rodberg, Ph.D. is a physicist and Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies of Queens College/CUNY. Both are technical advisors for New York Energy and Climate Advocates. 




  1. We should also be aware that Riverkeeper has consistently and willfully distorted the truth about Indian Point’s sterling service record to the downstate New York communities, including NYC, itself. And why? Has Riverkeeper cut a deal to reap some $14 million in a closure agreement with the governor and Entergy, allocated for their continuing Hudson River stewardship program? That will feather their nest for years to come, but at the expense of ratepayers who will spend more for wind and solar-provided electricity, as well as increased gas prices and infrastructure development.

    Far worse is the toll on New York State’s and the world’s environment, as gas usage to replace Indian Point’s carbon-free power will pollute the atmosphere with an additional estimated 10 million metric tons per year of greenhouse gas emissions, (CO2) and significant methane leakage throughout the fracked-gas supply chain.

    Virtually all the malevolence Riverkeeper’s Webster, and its founder Paul Gallay have brough to condemn the Buchanan-based nuclear power generating station is deceptive and false:
    1.) Thermal pollution in a river teaming with fish (which are PCB-laden and inedible from GE and Anaconda plant discharges years ago) ? The “billions of fish and larvae” in the immediate area surrounding the plant are a tiny fraction of thriving river fish communities. Why doesn’t Riverkeeper cite fossil fuel plants up and down the Hudson that also discharge heat?
    2.) That the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, (NRC) continually failed to do its job in monitoring Indian Point safety, and looked the other way while radioactive waste lay around at the plant and was discharged to contaminate the river and aquifers. False, as the NRC is among the most strictly-regulated agencies in the country, and has consistently approved Indian Point’s operation throughout its 60-year existence. Faulty machinery and maintenance, repeated accidents and lax security for a terrorist-prone nuclear plant? Riverkeeper lays it on thick, as it cherry-picks unrelated examples, as it lies through its teeth in demanding a 50-mile plant evacuation zone that would be unnecessary, as it is inherently dangerous.
    3.) Riverkeeper’s scientifically and technologically-bogus attempt, by gross exaggeration to scare the public in portraying the actually stable and over-built Indian Point as a Chernobyl and Fukushima waiting to happen, implies, with faulty evidence, that the facility is earthquake-prone and in danger of spewing radioactive clouds downriver that will panic and poison millions of residents, leaving the area uninhabitable for decades.

    Riverkeeper is guilty of these and other malicious attacks on Indian Point and must now be held accountable. Indian Point, throughout its distinguished career in providing clean electricity has saved many thousands of lives that would otherwise have be lost and compromised to known and documented health effects from coal, oil and gas power plant usage.

    Riverkeeper’s and other anti-nuclear groups’ assertion that Indian Point is aging and obsolete belies the fact that the plant, currently in operation for 50 years, was designed to last for a minimum of 80 years, and was recently relicensed by the NRC for a 4 year extension – while similar plants of its design are routinely relicensed for 20 years. With continued maintenance and component replacement, Indian Point, as an energy-dense, reliable, steady and safe source of electrical power will last indefinitely. Compare that with short-lived, intermittent wind and solar installations, which are dependent on fossil fuel back up that Riverkeeper and co., including Gov. Cuomo’s plan would have cluttering up an absurdly hundreds-of-times greater surface area to deliver the same power as Indian Point, on its compact 50 acres.

    Indian Point’s Unit 3 reactor must be retained for New York’s all-around benefit, and the recently shut down Unit 2 must be restarted. Riverkeeper’s false narrative is a cul-de-sac ending in gas replacement for New York State.

  2. I have always said riverkeeper and cuomo did not have a back up plan to replace the power from units 2 and 3, it is only a matter of time before we start to find this out.

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About the Author: Dr. Leonard Rodberg