Atlantic Chapter

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Nuclear Power's Environmental Impact


Mining Uranium Ore

  • Uranium ore comprises only a small fraction of the total material that is mined, leaving behind tons of rock along the landscape in the form of radioactive tailings.
  • Hundreds of millions of tons of long-lived mining and milling wastes have been generated in the U.S.

Water Usage

  • Nuclear power is the largest water consumer among all energy technologies. Heat waves and droughts have often forced the temporary shut down of U.S. nuclear plants.
  • Indian Point is the single largest user of water in the state. The twin, 40-foot-wide intake conduits to the two power plants take in 2.5 billion gallon of Hudson River water daily.  At 10 feet a story that makes the pipe as wide as a four story building is tall. Every year the once through cooling system at Indian Point uses the equivalent of twice the volume of the river from the Battery to Troy, a distance of 183 mile.


Impact on Plants and Animals

Indian Point Fish Kill and the Thermal Plume: Every year 1.5 billion juvenile and mature fish are sucked into the plant’s intake system. This figure does not include the fish eggs, larvae or plankton which are also drawn in through the 40 foot wide intake pipe. The young hatchlings, who have not yet grown to 1/2 inch in diameter, have been sucked in and killed at a rate of 300 billion annually for the past 20 years, according to theNRC. Removing so much from the bottom of the food chain has an adverse impact on the entire ecosystem. 

As part of the environmental impact assessment, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation counted the number of 5 species of fish – two surface dwellers, one mid level swimmer and two bottom dwelling fish over the course of a year and found that an additional 500 million fish died when they encountered the thermal plume from the hot water dumped back into the river as part of once-through cooling.  The water in the thermal plume from the plant is returned to the river 30 to 40 degrees hotter than river water. (

See National Sierra Club's material on the impact of power plant intakes here.

Security Risks (high population, evacuation, terrorism)

Is Indian Point dangerous?

Chances of catastrophic accident and radiation release at Indian Point are small, but the consequences of that small chance are overwhelmingly disastrous.


Indian Point Nowhere to Run video.

No other nuke plant is located within 50 miles of 23,000,000 people. Even the NRC admits that siting the plant so close to the city couldn’t happen today.

  • Indian Point is just a few miles from the city’s water supply, so even a moderate release of radiation could close down the city.
  • Indian Point has long been plagued by concerns over fire safety, spent fuel storage, earthquakes, terrorism, evacuation plans, and operational failures.
  • The evacuation plans cover only those within 10 miles of the plant. The NRC said the Japanese should have a plan for those within 50 miles of Fukushima.

Chernobyl On the Hudson?: The Health and Economic Impacts of a Terrorist Attack at Indian Point Nuclear Plant
This report presents the results of an independent analysis of the health and economic impacts of a terrorist attack at Indian Point that results in a core meltdown and a large radiological release to the environment.             

Is nuclear power in New York cheaper than other power?

No. Because of the way electricity is sold, New Yorkers pay Indian Point the highest price paid to any energy generator, not its true cost of producing the power plus profit. Indian Point produces power for around 2 cents a kilowatt-hour and is paid about 10 cents. It is an incredibly lucrative consumer rip-off.


Nuclear power is not viable without subsidies (estimated to be at least 0.7 ¢/kWh, or 13 percent to 80 percent of production costs), and those subsidies often exceed the value of the energy produced. These subsidies hide the true cost of nuclear power, making it seem more cost-effective than it actually is.

    Thursday, September 13, 2012
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