By Al Samuels
At a recent public meeting the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held about Indian Point, supporters and opponents of the plant were both out in force. Like other business leaders in the region, I strongly support the continued operation of Indian Point because it has continually been found to be safe by independent experts and it provides important economic benefits.
Having been at these NRC meetings for the past eight years I am particularly struck by the harsh and very personal attacks on the NRC’s people. Many on the NRC staff are veterans of the nuclear Navy who have selflessly served our country. They seek to explain the plant’s operation but what they have to share is often met with ridicule and insult.
The NRC regularly inspects and scrutinizes Indian Point, with inspectors working full time at the plant. Through these inspections, and expanded scrutiny taking place as part of Indian Point’s license renewal application, the plant has continually been found to be safe. NRC staff has also recommended the plant obtain license renewal for 20 years.
Entergy has also invested more than $1 billion into Indian Point to make it a world-class facility. The people at Indian Point are continuously trained, and very skilled in their work. Many of them also live in Rockland.
Indeed, the jobs and other economic benefits from Indian Point account for $1 billion annually in economic output for Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Dutchess counties, according to a 2015 independent study. Even though Indian Point does not provide electricity directly to Rockland, it plays an important role through the above contributions and by making the economic region stronger. Affordable, reliable electricity is an essential foundation for a strong economy and Indian Point provides those benefits.
One of the fastest growing businesses in our region is the cluster of data centers. These are intensive, energy consuming companies. They provide good paying jobs for many who live in surrounding areas. The clean, emission free electricity from Indian Point enables the region to be able to compete for these facilities and jobs.
By helping to keep Westchester County strong economically, Indian Point also provides opportunities for many companies in Rockland to do business with those in Westchester and surrounding regions.
As the Indian Point debate will continue, we should look at the facts and avoid insults and hyperbole. Indian Point has played an important role in helping the region to prospect and its continuing operation is important for us to have a bright economic future.
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About the Author: Al Samuels is President and CEO of the Rockland Business Association. With more than 1,000 member businesses, the Association’s mission is to educate, inform, and provide benefits series to members and actively represent, promote, and support the business community of Rockland County.