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Gibson intensifies push for local nuclear plant

Jan 31, 2011 7:04 am
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Indian Point Nuclear Plant, on the Tappan Zee, is one of a handful of nuclear plants in New York State."][/caption]The stated wish by our region's new congressman, Chris Gibson, to build at least one new nuclear power plant in the Hudson Valley is starting to get serious scrutiny, with The Daily Freeman and other papers doing stories this weekend, and today, on past efforts in this area and the mountains of opposition that ultimately killed them. Two plants were proposed for the greater Capital Region: one directly across from Saratoga National Historical Park, and another in the Mid-Hudson Valley just below Catskill, before the whole nuclear power effort halted following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. New York currently has four nuclear plants — three on Lake Ontario and one on the Hudson River, two of those with double reactors. In the late 1970s, Consolidated Edison proposed another nuclear plant on farmland straddling the Clermont-Red Hook border but that plan was eventually "modified" to a coal-burning plant, before being dropped entirely by the utility in the 1990s.


The story goes on to note how local officials in Massena, on the St. Lawrence Seaway, have already begun exploring the possibility of a nuclear plant as a source for jobs, but then points out how the proposal for a Smiths Landing nuclear plant ended up facing overwhelming public opposition in the 1970s. In addition to safety and environmental concerns, many people objected to the visual impact the plant’s 400-foot-tall cooling tower would have on the picturesque Hudson Valley, which has since been designated a National Heritage Corridor. Plans for that plant were scrapped following Three Mile Island. Nowadays, nuclear opponents also object to the high volumes of water plants need for cooling purposes, as well as how discharged water is often several degrees warmer and can result in significant fish kills. Gibson counters that technological advancements can overcome such problems and says he is working to create a bipartisan energy advisory panel that will consider ways to promote all types of power in his district. Another of his goals is to introduce legislation that would encourage private investment in nuclear energy and streamline a federal loan program. “Times have changed,” said Gibson spokeswoman Stephanie Valle of the congressman's view of possible opposition in the Hudson Valley these days. “It’s sort of a different game than it was 30 to 40 years ago.”
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