With his Wisconsin win wrapped up, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been speaking out on some issues facing New York — the scene of the next big election contest. In a statement this week, Sanders called for the closure of the Indian Point Nuclear Plant in New York saying it’s a threat to safety and the environment.
"I am very concerned that the Indian Power nuclear power reactor is more than ever before a catastrophe waiting to happen," Sanders said. "In my view, we cannot sit idly by and hope that the unthinkable will never happen. We must take action to shut this plant down in a safe and responsible way.”
For reference, Indian Point is the plant that safely and infamously shut down in December due to bird poop. According to Associated Press reporting last month, an outdoor high voltage transmission line suffered an electrical disturbance due to “bird steaming,” which caused a reactor outage for three days.
"It makes no sense to me to continue to operate a decaying nuclear reactor within 25 miles of New York City where nearly 10 million people live," Sanders said.
Indian Point, which is located about 30 miles north of midtown Manhattan, supplies about a quarter of New York City’s power.
Generally speaking, nuclear power still offers one of the safest forms of energy. When well-run, nuclear power plants have the lowest down-time of any other kind of power, and the industry’s accident rate has been low and on the decline.
Nuclear power also doesn’t produce climate-changing emissions. Despite that fact, several Democrats want to close the aging plant. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is aiming to cut New York’s climate-changing emissions by 40 percent, supports shuttering Indian Point.
And because climate change is one of Sanders’ chief policy issues in the election, he said he believes the country should move away from nuclear, along with fossil fuels usage, and focus more on renewables.
“Even in a perfect world where energy companies didn't make mistakes, nuclear power is and always has been a dangerous idea because there is no good way to store nuclear waste," Sanders said.
Later this year, one of Indian Point’s reactors will be due to be relicensed, which could set up a brawl over the future of nuclear power in the state.
Fellow Democratic presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has taken a less stringent position on the issue, calling for a “careful, thoughtful” review of the facility.