Uncertain future after Indian Point nuclear plant closes

- When a nuclear power plant is in your neighborhood, you tend to know it. The first Indian Point reactor opened in 1962 and despite one of the best safety records in the country, it was a target. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called it a "ticking time bomb."

Indian Point will stop ticking in April 2021. And the ripple effects of its closure will hit neighboring towns hard. Entergy, which owns Indian Point, pays millions to the Village of Buchanan and the surrounding area and has 1,000 employees. Local businesses depend on the massive industry for their livelihood.

Dennis Malles owns an auto shop. He said that when Indian Point closes, he and other businesses may follow.

Many of the 1,000 current employees at Indian Point will leave New York State to continue working for Entergy elsewhere. Spokesman Jerry Nappi said the workers are guaranteed employment; Entergy will find positions for them if they are willing to relocate.

With a major industry leaving, along with hundreds of residents, Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker has her work cut out for her. Knickerbocker admitted that local residents have been spoiled. For four decades, they've used the millions of dollars they've received from Indian Point for enhanced services—their own waterworks, sanitation, fire, police, and highway departments, and even their own courthouses. That money is just about to dry up.

Having a nuclear plan has been good to people of Buchanan. They pay on average less than half in taxes what others pay in the rest of Westchester. Soon it will be a time for choices. For instance, Buchanan's police department costs $1.5 million per year. The town could dissolve it and rely on the State Police. But if residents want to keep the PD, they'll have to pay for it.

Knickerbocker pushed back at those who say it is time for Buchanan residents to pay the same in taxes. She said the state and the feds should create a fund to pay Buchanan after Indian Point closes.

And this is one other problem. When Indian Point closes, the spent nuclear rods have nowhere to go and will have to be stored on the property—indefinitely. So trying to redevelop a 240-acre property with spent nuclear rods on site might be a tough sell. And Entergy's hands might be tied.

Nappi, the Entergy spokesman, said that the company is focused on operating the plant until 2021 and that looking down the road is "really premature."

But a glimpse down that road is exactly what residents and business owners are waiting for. Malles, the auto shop owner, said they aren't panicking yet but just don't know what will happen. He said they are waiting to see.

That is an anxious patience in the shadow of the stacks at Indian Point.

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