Since the March earthquake and tsunami that caused a nuclear power crisis in Japan, nuclear energy policies and plants have come under close scrutiny around the world. Here in America, our most dangerous nuclear reactor, located at the Indian Point Energy Center, is just north of New York City and provides us city dwellers with a significant amount of our energy. There’s been a debate over whether or not the plant should be closed and two studies have been completed that show exact opposite findings. The study by the National Resources Defense Council and Riverkeeper shows that shutting down Indian Point would not affect energy demand or cost for New Yorkers, which completely contradicts the study conducted by the Bloomberg administration.

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Over the summer, the Department of Environmental Protection released a report saying that closing Indian Point would lead to high levels of dirty air, cause a greater risk of burnout, and force higher electric bills on New Yorkers. But the NRDC and Riverkeeper oppose keeping the plant in operation because of safety concerns. They argue that if an accident occurred at Indian Point, it would be 10 times worse than what happened at the Fukushima plant in Japan. While they do not give a detailed explanation of how this could happen, they contend that an earthquake stronger than Indian Point is prepared for is very likely to happen.

Ashok Gupta, the New York State energy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the New York Times that despite the belief that closing Indian Point would make the lights go out, the state would not need any new capacity until 2020. The plant’s certificates of operation are set to expire in 2013 and 2015. A different study, commissioned by New York City and done by Charles River Associates of Boston, showed that the area would face a capacity shortage as soon as 2016.

“The two studies used differing assumptions about the extent to which new generators could be built or existing ones upgraded,” writes the Times, “how much efficiency improvements could reduce power demand; and how fast renewable energy sources, and especially the power lines that would bring those resources to the New York area, could be built.”

Via The New York Times

Lead image © Tony via Creative Commons, Secondary image © Patrick Stahl