Joe Pollock, vice president of nuclear operations at the Nuclear Energy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, and former vice president of operations at Indian Point, said he believes Indian Point’s position 35 miles up the Hudson River prevents it from being seriously affected by a hurricane storm surge. Should any storm surge flood Indian Point or any other coastal nuclear power plant, the rising water would damage the surrounding communities and Manhattan first before endangering the nuclear plant itself, he said.
Asked whether he believes climate change poses a threat to Indian Point or any other coastal nuclear power plant, Pollock said, “I don’t believe there is a threat.” Nuclear power plants have weathered hurricanes and tornadoes, showing that “the plants are designed to handle those types of natural events,” he said.
But Musegaas said he fears Indian Point may not be able to withstand a major hurricane in the coming years, and regulators are doing too little to prevent disaster from occurring.
“For Indian Point, it really depends on what the sea level rise and the tides do,” he said. “If we have additional storms like Sandy — if you had the rain of Hurricane Irene and the storm surge from Sandy, we’d have had flooding on the site… . There are no requirements to change the site to make it more storm resilient. No opportunity with the NRC to raise sea level rise issues in the relicensing case that’s going on now. The issue is not addressed there.”