Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tour du Nukes, continued

Can you spot the nuclear power plant in this picture?
Most nuclear plants are sited on the water . . . the better to offload excess heat INTO the water.  As SlowBoat noted previously, sometimes our trip around America's major waterways feels like a Tour du Nukes.

On Thursday morning we left an unfriendly anchorage at Haverstraw Bay (just south of Peekskill) to continue cruising up the Hudson River. Around the first bend was what looked like an astronomical observatory (which got us kind of excited since we're into stargazing).

A closer look revealed the true nature of the structure: It was one of the two domes housing nuclear reactors at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.

With the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission planning to tour Indian Point this coming week, and with recent events in Japan in mind, here's some food for thought,
  • About 25 million people live within 50 miles of this plant.
  • The pools where the plant's spent nuclear fuel is housed have no containment structure
  • In 1981, river water leaked into one of the reactor containment buildings. The leak was not detected by safety sensors. Two pumps that were supposed to have removed the water failed to kick in.
  • According to the NYDEC website, "radionuclides are leaking into the groundwater from the plant's aging structures"
  • An active seismic zone running from Stamford, CT, to Peekskill, NY passes within a mile of the plant. The plant was designed to withstand earthquakes stronger than what has been recorded in the region--but not a quake as strong as the one in Japan
  • The plant is considered one of the nationals most "at-risk for core damage in the event of an earthquake"
  • One of the planes in the 9/11 attack flew over this plant. Mohamed Atta, one of the hijackers, is know to have considered nuclear plants as targets.
  • And all this aside, the plant's cooling system has a large impact on the river ecosystem, killing fish and other water creatures.
  • On the other hand, if you shut this plant down . . . how do you meet the demand for electricity in the region?

Your thoughts?

(Now, if you want to see the fun parts of our day--just like being inside a Harry Potter movie!--check the photo albums at the SlowBoatCruise Facebook page.)

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