A hostile crowd of approximately 500, many holding signs decrying the safety of the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan, took over a meeting hosted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Cortlandt Thursday night.
The meeting started with a slide presentation by the federal agency, but quickly digressed into a question and answer session with the public, after officials were repeatedly interrupted and shouted at by the audience during the presentation. Cries of “lies,” and "double talk" and chants of “Close Indian Point" seemed to rattle NRC officials.
Officials attempted to explain the rather cryptic slides to the antsy audience. After Michelle Catts, senior resident of Indian Pt. 2, said the NRC had determined “Indian Point was operated safely” in 2010. the audience exploded with heckling, prompting mediator Karl Farrar, regional counsel for the NRC, to scold the audience, saying, “Do you want us to go on with the meeting?”
After a five-minute break, and an attempted resumption of the meeting, it was decided to hold a question and answer session. Opposition to the power plants far outnumbered supporters.
“This is the fifth one I’ve been to,” said Robert Olsson, a Croton resident speaking about NRC public meetings. “This one has the most people against it. Usually it’s the other way around.”
Various local and state officials were present at the meeting, including State Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, of the 95th District, who received a standing ovation when she told the six seated members of the agency, “Your job is to protect the public, not the industry.”
Jerry Connolly, a former Indian Point worker who retired after 40 years of service, said he was representing 500 workers in the Boilermakers Union Local 5, which includes workers from Indian Point. “We are in the unfortunate position in this state of having some of the oldest equipment,” Connolly said, adding he believed much of the equipment inside Indian Point had been replaced over the years. “What the public is missing,” continued Connolly, “is their insatiable appetite for electricity.”
According to Jim Steets, spokesperson for Entergy Nuclear, the company which operates Indian Point, Cortlandt and surrounding communities are extremely dependent on taxes coming from Indian Point. The yearly taxes amount to about $25 million per year.
Teachers and school district officials from various counties were also present. Citizens had come from as far away as Albany and New York City, as well as many from Rockland, Putnam, Orange and Ulster counties.