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“Sitting Ducks on the Hudson”

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“It is by now common knowledge from the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report, interviews with planners of the 9/11 attack and other intelligence that (1) an attack on U.S. nuclear power plants was envisioned as part of the original terrorist plan; (2) when Mohammed Atta saw Indian Point during his surveillance flights of the Hudson, he gave consideration to changing the target of American flight 11 to Indian Point; and (3) U.S. nuclear power plants remain key targets.”

-Michael H. Levy, a retired U.S. Army Ranger Captain; addressing Indian Point concerns at an Ossining Town Board Meeting on November 1st, 2005.

Once in a while, I’ll find myself driving north, along the Hudson River. Ideally, this drive is at its best during the summer as the sun sets. There is no better time of the day than the twilight period, especially as you drive along the scenic river. As the sun’s captivating streaks lay delicately along the sky and the night begins to make its presence with a preview of stars, the twilight captures the beauty of both day and night. Accompanying this period when the sun gracefully departs and the moon begins her shift, are the gentle river breezes that blanket the area. These light gusts would create shimmering patterns on the water’s surface. This is the Hudson.

But these getaways end abruptly. The sun’s fading colors would brush along the shore and forests until the natural collided with the artificial. You could see the colors disappear on the dead surface of concrete and steel. A vicious barbed-wire fence displays partially-shredded plastic grocery bags, which are held captive in its jagged teeth. Two massive domes stick out of the land like tumors. The river breeze that once provided comfort and tranquility now leaves your body shivering. As you drive by Indian Point, your mind feels uneasy. Some may say that these are signs of nature’s distress and weakness, but I like to think that this is her way of giving us warning. Indian Point didn’t belong on the river. Like an apple with a bright and shiny appearance on one side, and a white, moldy growth on the other side, Indian Point has a parasitic presence. The nuclear power plant’s ugly appearance represents much more than a contrast between nature’s beauty and man’s artificiality: the plant represents fear and vulnerability.

The 9/11 attacks marked the beginning of this widespread fear. Throughout our neighborhoods, cities, and counties, families were having the type of discussions at the dinner table that would surely spoil any appetite. People began to think the unthinkable. We started asking questions:

“Could Indian Point Power Plant become a target for terrorists?”

“Who’s guarding the plant?”

“Is the plant bomb-proof? Is it plane-proof?”

“In the case of an attack, who would be affected? How much of a radius would this explosion/blast cover? Who’s in the “safe-area?”

(and believe me, we all checked)

“Is there an evacuation plan?”

“Can we shut it down?”

“What can we do?”

And they answered.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) tried to assure us that there was no cause for alarm. While this may seem like the type of response that we’d want to hear, we know that there is little honesty and merit behind their statements. The individuals at the NRC, who are in charge of protecting citizens and regulating the nuclear-power industry, are utterly incompetent.

If you asked Dupont whether or not their chemicals contained harmful carcinogens that posed serious risks to the public health, what would they say?

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Jeremy Schneider is a freelance writer from Rockland County, NY.
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“Sitting Ducks on the Hudson”

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