Indian Point Energy CenterNuclear power plant in Buchanan, New YorkIndian Point Energy Center (IPEC) is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New York, just south of Peekskill. It sits on the east bank of the Hudson River, about 36 miles (58 km) north of Midtown Manhattan. The plant generates over 2,000 megawatts (MWe) of electrical power. For reference, the record peak energy consumption of New York City and Westchester County (the ConEdison Service Territory) was set during a seven-day heat wave on July 19, 2013, at 13,322 megawatts. Electrical energy consumption varies greatly with time of day and season.Quick Facts: Country, Location …The plant is owned and operated by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, and includes two operating Westinghouse pressurized water reactors—designated “Indian Point 2” and “Indian Point 3″—which Entergy bought from Consolidated Edison and the New York Power Authority respectively. The facility also contains the permanently shut-down Indian Point Unit 1 reactor. As of 2015, the number of permanent jobs at the Buchanan plant is approximately 1,000.The original 40-year operating licenses for units 2 and 3 expired in September 2013 and December 2015, respectively. Entergy had applied for license extensions and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was moving toward granting a twenty-year extension for each reactor. However, after pressure from local environmental groups and New York governor Andrew Cuomo, it was announced that the plant is scheduled to be shut down by 2021. Local groups had cited increasingly frequent issues with the aging units, ongoing environmental releases, and the proximity of the plant to New York City.ReactorsHistory and designThe reactors are built on land that originally housed the Indian Point Amusement Park, but was acquired by Consolidated Edison (ConEdison) on October 14, 1954. Indian Point 1, built by ConEdison, was a 275-megawatt Babcock & Wilcox supplied  pressurized water reactor that was issued an operating license on March 26, 1962 and began operations on September 16, 1962. The first core used a thorium-based fuel with stainless steel cladding, but this fuel did not live up to expectations for core life. The plant was operated with uranium dioxide fuel for the remainder of its life. The reactor was shut down on October 31, 1974, because the emergency core cooling system did not meet regulatory requirements. All spent fuel was removed from the reactor vessel by January 1976, but the reactor still stands. The licensee, Entergy, plans to decommission Unit 1 when Unit 2 is decommissioned.The two additional reactors, Indian Point 2 and 3, are four-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactors both of similar design. Units 2 and 3 were completed in 1974 and 1976, respectively. Unit 2 has a generating capacity of 1,032 MW, and Unit 3 has a generating capacity of 1,051 MW. Both reactors use uranium dioxide fuel of no more than 4.8% U-235 enrichment. The reactors at Indian Point are protected by containment domes made of steel-reinforced concrete that is 40 inches thick, with a carbon steel liner.Nuclear capacity in New York stateUnits 2 and 3 are two of six operating nuclear energy sources in New York State. New York is one of the five largest states in terms of nuclear capacity and generation, accounting for approximately 5% of the national totals. Indian Point provides 39% of the state’s nuclear capacity. Nuclear power produces 34.2% of the state’s electricity, higher than the U.S. average of 20.6%. In 2017, Indian Point generated approximately 10% of the state’s electricity needs, and 25% of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County. Its contract with Consolidated Edison is for just 560 megawatts. The New York Power Authority, which built Unit 3, stopped buying electricity from Indian Point in 2012. NYPA supplies the subways, airports, and public schools and housing in NYC and Westchester County. Entergy sells the rest of Indian Point’s output into the NYISO administered electric wholesale markets and elsewhere in New England. In 2013, New York had the fourth highest average electricity prices in the United States. Half of New York’s power demand is in the New York City region; about two-fifths of generation originates there.RefuelingThe currently operating Units 2 and 3 are each refueled on a two-year cycle. At the end of each fuel cycle, one unit is brought offline for refueling and maintenance activities. On March 2, 2015, Indian Point 3 was taken offline for 23 days to perform its refueling operations. Entergy invested $50 million in the refueling and other related projects for Unit 3, of which $30 million went to employee salaries. The unit was brought back online on March 25, 2015.EffectsEconomic impactA June 2015 report by a lobby group called Nuclear Energy Institute found that the operation of Indian Point generates $1.3 billion of annual economic output in local counties, $1.6 billion statewide, and $2.5 billion across the United States. In 2014, Entergy paid $30 million in state and local property taxes. The total tax revenue (direct and secondary) was nearly $340 million to local, state, and federal governments. According to the Village of Buchanan budget for 2016–2017, a payment in lieu of taxes in the amount of $2.62 million was received in 2015-2016, and was projected to be $2.62 million in 2016–2017 – the majority of which can be assumed to come from the Indian Point Energy Center.Over the last decade, the station has maintained a capacity factor of greater than 93 percent. This is consistently higher than the nuclear industry average and than other forms of generation. The reliability helps offset the severe price volatility of other energy sources (e.g., natural gas) and the indeterminacy of renewable electricity sources (e.g., solar, wind).Indian Point directly employs about 1,000 full-time workers. This employment creates another 2,800 jobs in the five-county region, and 1,600 in other industries in New York, for a total of 5,400 in-state jobs. Additionally, another 5,300 indirect jobs are created out of state, creating a sum total of 10,700 jobs throughout the United States.Environmental concernsEnvironmentalists have expressed concern about increased carbon emissions with the impending shutdown of Indian Point (generating electricity with nuclear energy creates no carbon emissions). A study undertaken by Environmental Progress found that closure of the plant would cause power emissions to jump 29% in New York, equivalent to the emissions from 1.4 million additional cars on New York roads.Some environmental groups have expressed concerns about the operation of Indian Point, including radiation pollution and endangerment of wildlife, but whether Indian Point has ever posed a significant danger to wildlife or the public remains controversial. Though anti-nuclear group Riverkeeper notes “Radioactive leakage from the plant containing several radioactive isotopes, such as strontium-90, cesium-137, cobalt-60, nickel-63 and tritium, a rarely-occurring isotope of hydrogen, has flowed into groundwater that eventually enters the Hudson River in the past, there is no evidence radiation from the plant has ever posed a significant hazard to local residents or wildlife. In the last year[when?], nine tritium leaks have occurred, however, even at their highest levels the leaks have never exceeded one-tenth of one percent of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission limits.In February 2016, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a full investigation by state environment and health officials and is partnering with organizations like Sierra Club, Riverkeepers, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, Scenic Hudson and Physicians for Social Responsibility in seeking the permanent closure of the plant. However, Cuomo’s motivation for closing the plant was called into question after it was revealed two top former aides, under federal prosecution for influence-peddling, had lobbied on behalf of natural gas company Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) to kill Indian Point. In his indictment, US attorney Preet Bharara wrote “the importance of the plant [CPV’s proposed Valley Energy Center, a plant powered by natural gas] to the State depended at least in part, on whether [Indian Point] was going to be shut down.”In April 2016 climate scientist James Hansen took issue with calls to shut the plant down, including those from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “The last few weeks have seen an orchestrated campaign to mislead the people of New York about the essential safety and importance of Indian Point nuclear plant to address climate change,” wrote Hansen, adding “Sanders has offered no evidence that NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] has failed to do its job, and he has no expertise in over-riding NRC’s judgement. For the sake of future generations who could be harmed by irreversible climate change, I urge New Yorkers to reject this fear mongering and uphold science against ideology.”Indian Point removes water from the nearby Hudson River. Despite the use of fish screens, the cooling system kills over a billion fish eggs and larvae annually. According to one NRC report from 2010, as few as 38% of alewives survive the screens. On September 14, 2015, a state hearing began in regards to the deaths of fish in the river, and possibly implementing a shutdown period from May to August. An Indian Point spokesman stated that such a period would be unnecessary, as Indian Point “is fully protective of life in the Hudson River and $75 million has been spent over the last 30 years on scientific studies demonstrating that the plant has no harmful impact to adult fish.” The hearings lasted three weeks. Concerns were also raised over the planned building of new cooling towers, which would cut down forest land that is suspected to be used as breeding ground by muskrat and mink. At the time of the report, no minks or muskrats were spotted there.SafetyIndian Point Energy Center has been given an incredible amount of scrutiny from the media and politicians and is regulated more heavily than various other power plants in the state of New York (i.e., by the NRC in addition to FERC, the NYSPSC, the NYISO, the NYSDEC, and the EPA). On a forced outage basis – incidents related to electrical equipment failure that force a plant stoppage – it provides a much more reliable operating history than most other power plants in New York. Beginning at the end of 2015, Governor Cuomo began to ramp up political action against the Indian Point facility, opening an investigation with the state public utility commission, the department of health, and the department of environmental conservation. To put the public service commission investigation in perspective: most electric outage investigations conducted by the commission are in response to outages with a known number of affected retail electric customers. By November 17, 2017, the NYISO accepted Indian Point’s retirement notice.In 1997, Indian Point Unit 3 was removed from the NRC’s list of plants that receive increased attention from the regulator. An engineer for the NRC noted that the plant had been experiencing increasingly fewer problems during inspections. On March 10, 2009 the Indian Point Power Plant was awarded the fifth consecutive top safety rating for annual operations by the Federal regulators. According to the Hudson Valley Journal News, the plant had shown substantial improvement in its safety culture in the previous two years. A 2003 report commissioned by then-Governor George Pataki concluded that the “current radiological response system and capabilities are not adequate to…protect the people from an unacceptable dose of radiation in the event of a release from Indian Point”. More recently, in December 2012 Entergy commissioned a 400-page report on the estimates of evacuation times. This report, performed by emergency planning company KLD Engineering, concluded that the existing traffic management plans provided by Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester Counties are adequate and require no changes. According to one list that ranks U.S. nuclear power plants by their likelihood of having a major natural disaster related incident, Indian Point is the most likely to be hit by a natural disaster, mainly an earthquake. Despite this, the owners of the plant still say that safety is a selling point for the nuclear power plant.Incidents In 1973, five months after Indian Point 2 opened, the plant was shut down when engineers discovered buckling in the steel liner of the concrete dome in which the nuclear reactor is housed. On October 17, 1980, 100,000 gallons of Hudson River water leaked into the Indian Point 2 containment building from the fan cooling unit, undetected by a safety device designed to detect hot water. The flooding, covering the first nine feet of the reactor vessel, was discovered when technicians entered the building. Two pumps that should have removed the water were found to be inoperative. NRC proposed a $2,100,000 fine for the incident. In February 2000, Unit 2 experienced a Steam Generator Tube Rupture (SGTR), which allowed primary water to leak into the secondary system through one of the steam generators. All four steam generators were subsequently replaced. In 2005, Entergy workers while digging discovered a small leak in a spent fuel pool. Water containing tritium and strontium-90 was leaking through a crack in the pool building and then finding its way into the nearby Hudson River. Workers were able to keep the spent fuel rods safely covered despite the leak. On March 22, 2006 The New York Times also reported finding radioactive nickel-63 and strontium in groundwater on site. In 2007, a transformer at Unit 3 caught fire, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission raised its level of inspections, because the plant had experienced many unplanned shutdowns. According to The New York Times, Indian Point “has a history of transformer problems”. On April 23, 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission fined the owner of the Indian Point nuclear plant $130,000 for failing to meet a deadline for a new emergency siren plan. The 150 sirens at the plant are meant to alert residents within 10 miles to a plant emergency. On January 7, 2010, NRC inspectors reported that an estimated 600,000 gallons of mildly radioactive steam was intentionally vented to the atmosphere after an automatic shutdown of Unit 2. After the vent, one of the vent valves unintentionally remained slightly open for two days. The levels of tritium in the steam were within the allowable safety limits defined in NRC standards. On November 7, 2010, an explosion occurred in a main transformer for Indian Point 2, spilling oil into the Hudson River. Entergy later agreed to pay a $1.2 million penalty for the transformer explosion. July 2013, a former supervisor, who worked at the Indian Point nuclear power plant for twenty-nine years, was arrested for falsifying the amount of particulate in the diesel fuel for the plant’s backup generators. On May 9, 2015, a transformer failed at Indian Point 3, causing the automated shutdown of reactor 3. A fire that resulted from the failure was extinguished, and the reactor was placed in a safe and stable condition. The failed transformer contained about 24,000 gallons of dielectric fluid, which is used as an insulator and coolant when the transformer is energized. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that about 3,000 gallons of dielectric fluid entered the river following the failure. In June 2015, a mylar balloon floated into a switchyard, causing an electrical problem resulting in the shutdown of Reactor 3. In July 2015, Reactor 3 was shut down after a water pump failure. On December 5, 2015, Indian Point 2 was shut down after several control rods lost power. On February 6, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo informed the public that radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaked into the groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear facility.Spent fuelIndian Point stores used fuel rods in two spent fuel pools at the facility. The spent fuel pools at Indian Point are not stored under a containment dome like the reactor, but rather they are contained within an indoor 40-foot-deep pool and submerged under 27 feet of water. Water is a natural and effective barrier to radiation. The spent fuel pools at Indian Point are set in bedrock and are constructed of concrete walls that are four to six feet wide, with a quarter-inch thick stainless steel inner liner. The pools each have multiple redundant backup cooling systems.Indian Point began dry cask storage of spent fuel rods in 2008, which is a safe and environmentally sound option according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Some rods have already been moved to casks from the spent fuel pools. The pools will be kept nearly full of spent fuel, leaving enough space to allow emptying the reactor completely. Dry cask storage systems are designed to resist floods, tornadoes, projectiles, temperature extremes, and other unusual scenarios. The NRC requires the spent fuel to be cooled and stored in the spent fuel pool for at least five years before being transferred to dry casks.Earthquake riskIn 2008, researchers from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory located a previously unknown active seismic zone running from Stamford, Connecticut, to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, New York—the intersection of the Stamford-Peekskill line with the well-known Ramapo Fault—which passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast, but scientists dispute how active this roughly 200-million-year-old fault really is. Many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. Visible at ground level, the fault line likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.In July 2013, Entergy engineers reassessed the risk of seismic damage to Unit 3 and submitted their findings in a report to the NRC. It was found that risk leading to reactor core damage is 1 in 106,000 reactor years using U.S. Geological Survey data; and 1 in 141,000 reactor years using Electric Power Research Institute data. Unit 3’s previous owner, the New York Power Authority, had conducted a more limited analysis in the 1990s than Unit 2’s previous owner, Con Edison, leading to the impression that Unit 3 had fewer seismic protections than Unit 2. Neither submission of data from the previous owners was incorrect.According to a company spokesman, Indian Point was built to withstand an earthquake of 6.1 on the Richter scale. Entergy executives have also noted “that Indian Point had been designed to withstand an earthquake much stronger than any on record in the region, though not one as powerful as the quake that rocked Japan.”The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Indian Point was Reactor 2: 1 in 30,303; Reactor 3: 1 in 10,000, according to an NRC study published in August 2010. Msnbc.com reported based on the NRC data that “Indian Point nuclear reactor No. 3 has the highest risk of earthquake damage in the country, according to new NRC risk estimates provided to msnbc.com.” According to the report, the reason is that plants in known earthquake zones like California were designed to be more quake-resistant than those in less affected areas like New York. The NRC did not dispute the numbers but responded in a release that “The NRC results to date should not be interpreted as definitive estimates of seismic risk,” because the NRC does not rank plants by seismic risk.IPEC Units 2 and 3 both operated at 100% full power before, during, and after the Virginia earthquake on August 23, 2011. A thorough inspection of both units by plant personnel immediately following this event verified no significant damage occurred at either unit.Emergency planningThe Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.According to an analysis of U.S. Census data for MSNBC, the 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Indian Point was 272,539, an increase of 17.6 percent during the previous ten years. The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 17,220,895, an increase of 5.1 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include New York (41 miles to city center); Bridgeport, Conn. (40 miles); Newark, N.J. (39 miles); and Stamford, Conn. (24 miles).In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima incident in Japan, the State Department recommended that any Americans in Japan stay beyond fifty miles from the area. Columnist Peter Applebome, writing in The New York Times, noted that such an area around Indian Point would include “almost all of New York City except for Staten Island; almost all of Nassau County and much of Suffolk County; all of Bergen County, N.J.; all of Fairfield, Conn.” He quotes Purdue University professor Daniel Aldrich as saying “Many scholars have already argued that any evacuation plans shouldn’t be called plans, but rather “fantasy documents””.The current 10-mile plume-exposure pathway Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) is one of two EPZs intended to facilitate a strategy for protective action during an emergency and comply with NRC regulations. “The exact size and shape of each EPZ is a result of detailed planning which includes consideration of the specific conditions at each site, unique geographical features of the area, and demographic information. This preplanned strategy for an EPZ provides a substantial basis to support activity beyond the planning zone in the extremely unlikely event it would be needed.”In an interview, Entergy executives said they doubt that the evacuation zone would be expanded to reach as far as New York City.Indian Point is protected by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including a National Guard base within a mile of the facility, as well as by private off-site security forces.During the September 11 attacks, American Airlines Flight 11 flew near the Indian Point Energy Center en route to the World Trade Center. Mohamed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers/plotters, had considered nuclear facilities for targeting in a terrorist attack. Entergy says it is prepared for a terrorist attack, and asserts that a large airliner crash into the containment building would not cause reactor damage. Following 9/11 the NRC required operators of nuclear facilities in the U.S. to examine the effects of terrorist events and provide planned responses. In September 2006, the Indian Point Security Department successfully completed mock assault exercises required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. However, according to environmental group Riverkeeper, these NRC exercises are inadequate because they do not envision a sufficiently large group of attackers.According to The New York Times, fuel stored in dry casks is less vulnerable to terrorist attack than fuel in the storage pools.RecertificationUnits 2 and 3 were both originally licensed by the NRC for 40 years of operation. The NRC limits commercial power reactor licenses to an initial 40 years, but also permits such licenses to be renewed. This original 40-year term for reactor licenses was based on economic and antitrust considerations, not on limitations of nuclear technology. Due to this selected period, however, some structures and components may have been engineered on the basis of an expected 40-year service life. The original federal license for Unit Two expired on September 28, 2013, and the license for Unit Three was due to expire in December 2015. On April 30, 2007, Entergy submitted an application for a 20-year renewal of the licenses for both units. On May 2, 2007, the NRC announced that this application is available for public review. Because the owner submitted license renewal applications at least five years prior to the original expiration date, the units are allowed to continue operation past this date while the NRC considers the renewal application.On September 23, 2007, the antinuclear group Friends United for Sustainable Energy (FUSE) filed legal papers with the NRC opposing the relicensing of the Indian Point 2 reactor. The group contended that the NRC improperly held Indian Point to less stringent design requirements. The NRC responded that the newer requirements were put in place after the plant was complete.On December 1, 2007, Westchester County Executive Andrew J. Spano, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer called a press conference with the participation of environmental advocacy groups Clearwater and Riverkeeper to announce their united opposition to the re-licensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of the Attorney General requested a hearing as part of the process put forth by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In September 2007 The New York Times reported on the rigorous legal opposition Entergy faces in its request for a 20-year licensing extension for Indian Point Nuclear Reactor 2.A water quality certificate is a prerequisite for a twenty-year renewal by the NRC. On April 3, 2010, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ruled that Indian Point violates the federal Clean Water Act, because “the power plant’s water-intake system kills nearly a billion aquatic organisms a year, including the shortnose sturgeon, an endangered species.” The state is demanding that Entergy constructs new closed-cycle cooling towers at a cost of over $1 billion, a decision that will effectively close the plant for nearly a year. Regulators denied Entergy’s request to install fish screens that they said would improve fish mortality more than new cooling towers. Anti-nuclear groups and environmentalists have in the past tried to close the plant, which is in a more densely populated area than any of the 66 other nuclear plant sites in the US. Opposition to the plant[from whom?] increased after the September 2001 terror attacks, when one of the hijacked jets flew close to the plant on its way to the World Trade Center. Public worries also increased after the 2011 Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and after a report highlighting the Indian Point plant’s proximity to the Ramapo Fault.Advocates of recertifying Indian Point include former New York City mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph W. Giuliani. Bloomberg says that “Indian Point is critical to the city’s economic viability”. The New York Independent System Operator maintains that in the absence of Indian Point, grid voltages would degrade, which would limit the ability to transfer power from upstate New York resources through the Hudson Valley to New York City.As the current governor, Andrew Cuomo continues to call for closure of Indian Point. In late June 2011, a Cuomo advisor in a meeting with Entergy executives informed them for the first time directly of the Governor’s intention to close the plant, while the legislature approved a bill to streamline the process of siting replacement plants.Nuclear energy industry figures and analysts responded to Cuomo’s initiative by questioning whether replacement electrical plants could be certified and built rapidly enough to replace Indian Point, given New York state’s “cumbersome regulation process”, and also noted that replacement power from out of state sources will be hard to obtain because New York has weak ties to generation capacity in other states. They said that possible consequences of closure will be a sharp increase in the cost of electricity for downstate users and even “rotating black-outs”.Several members of the House of Representatives representing districts near the plant have also opposed recertification, including Democrats Nita Lowey, Maurice Hinchey, and Eliot Engel and then Republican member Sue Kelly.In November 2016 the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the application to renew the NRC operating licences must be reviewed against the state’s coastal management program, which The New York State Department of State had already decided was inconsistent with coastal management requirements. Entergy has filed a lawsuit regarding the validity of Department of State’s decision.ClosureBeginning at the end of 2015, Governor Cuomo began to ramp up political action against the Indian Point facility, opening investigations with the state public utility commission, the department of health and the department of environmental conservation. To put the public service commission investigation in perspective, most electric outage investigations conducted by the commission are in response to outages with a known number of affected retail electric customers. By November 17, 2017, the NYISO accepted Indian Point’s retirement notice.In January 2017, the governor’s office announced closure by 2020-21. The closure, along with pollution control, challenges New York’s ability to be supplied. Among the solution proposals are storage, renewables (solar and wind), a new transmission cables from Canada  and a 650MW natural gas plant located in Wawayanda, New York. There was also a 1,000 MW merchant HVDC transmission line proposed in 2013 to the public service commission that would have interconnected at Athens, New York and Buchanan, New York, however this project was indefinitely stalled when its proposed southern converter station site was bought by the Town of Cortlandt in a land auction administered by Con Edison. As of October 1, 2018, the 650 MW plant built in Wawayanda, New York, by CPV Valley, is operating commercially. The CPV Valley plant has been associated with Governor Cuomo’s close aid, Joe Percoco, and the associated corruption trial. Another plant being built, Cricket Valley Energy Center, rated at 1,100 MW, is on schedule to provide energy by 2020 in Dover, New York. An Indian Point contingency plan, initiated in 2012 by the NYSPSC under the administration of Cuomo, solicited energy solutions from which a Transmission Owner Transmission Solutions (TOTS) plan was selected. The TOTS projects provide 450 MW of additional transfer capability across a NYISO defined electric transmission corridor in the form of three projects: series compensation at a station in Marcy, New York, reconductoring a transmission line, adding an additional transmission line, and “unbottling” Staten Island capacity. These projects, with the exception of part of the Staten Island “unbottling” were in service by mid-2016. The cost of the TOTS projects are distributed among various utilities in their rate cases before the public service commission and the cost allocation amongst themselves was approved by FERC. NYPA and LIPA are also receiving a portion. The cost of the TOTS projects has been estimated in the range of $27 million to $228 million. An energy highway initiative was also prompted by this order (generally speaking, additional lines on the Edic-Pleasant Valley and the Oakdale-Fraser transmission corridors) which is still going through the regulatory process in both the NYISO and NYSPSC.Under the current plan, one reactor is scheduled to be shut down in April 2020 and the second by April 2021. A report by the New York Building Congress, a construction industry association, has said that NYC will need additional natural gas pipelines to accommodate the city’s increasing demand for energy. Environmentalists have argued that the power provided by Indian point can be replaced by renewable energy, combined with conservation measures and improvements to the efficiency of the electrical grid.
By David Brennan On 12/11/20 at 8:50 AM EST
Iran’s top representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has warned the body not to overstep the limits of its mandate. The warning comes as Tehran threatens to move further from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal in response to American sanctions and the alleged Israeli assassination of one of its top scientists.
The Iranian parliament last month approved a new bill instructing the country’s atomic energy body to increase its uranium enrichment program and block international inspectors from its nuclear sites, both prohibited under the 2015 JCPOA which has been in limbo since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. in 2018.
The bill was a response to the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, killed on a country road outside Tehran last month. Iran has blamed Israel for the killing, and suggested the U.S. may have assisted the operation.
The IAEA has condemned both the assassination and Iran’s move away from the JCPOA. Tehran began violating the deal piecemeal after Trump’s withdrawal, and said it would no longer comply with any elements of the accord after the U.S. assassinated top commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in January.
IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi told Sky News Thursday that the Iranian “measures would be an even further deviation from the commitments that Iran entered into when it joined the agreement.”
He added: “I cannot imagine who would win from such a situation. If there was any limitation of the IAEA inspectors as a result of this or any other situation were curtailed in their work.”
“Very clearly we would have to inform about this,” Grossi said. “We would have to be very clear to the world this is happening. And this in itself would not help anyone including Iran.”
Iran’s permanent representative to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, tweeted a pointed response to Grossi’s warning on Friday. The diplomat said the IAEA’s “sole role is to monitor and verify the voluntary nuclear-related measures as detailed in the JCPOA and to provide regular updates in this regard.”
“Any assessment or analysis is out of the mandate of the Agency,” Gharibabadi added.
The remaining JCPOA signatories—Russia, China, the U.K., Germany and France—have been trying to save the nuclear deal since Trump’s withdrawal. Already, these nations and others were concerned about Iran’s refusal to comply.
Tehran now has more than 12 times the level of enriched uranium allowed under the JCPOA, some of which is also of a higher enrichment than permitted. Uranium enriched to between 3 and 5 percent can be used in nuclear power, but it needs to be around 90 percent enriched for use in weapons.
Iran’s parliament has ordered the country’s nuclear agency to increase enrichment to around 20 percent. From here, the technical step to get to 90 percent is relatively simple, meaning a stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium would greatly decrease Tehran’s so-called “break out time” to a nuclear warhead if it decides to pursue one.
Still, Iranian leaders have said they are willing to return to full JCPOA compliance if President-Elect Joe Biden does the same come January. Biden and America’s European allies have hinted they wish to widen the deal to include limits on Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional influence, which could be a sticking point in any future negotiations.
It was the second time in three weeks that Air Force bombers had conducted long-range flights near Iranian air space on short notice.
Dec. 10, 2020
A B-52H Stratofortress bomber based at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.A1c Jan K. Valle/United States Air Force
WASHINGTON — Two American B-52 bombers flew a show-of-force mission in the Persian Gulf on Thursday that military officials said was intended to deter Iran and its proxies from carrying out attacks against United States troops in the Middle East amid rising tensions between the two countries.
The lumbering warplanes’ 36-hour round-trip mission from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana was the second time in three weeks that Air Force bombers had conducted long-range flights near Iranian air space on short notice. The United States periodically conducts such quick demonstration missions to the Middle East and Asia to underscore American air power to allies and adversaries, but the two missions within a month is unusual.
The multinational mission, which included aircraft from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, was routed well outside Iranian air space. The American warplanes were in the broader gulf region for about two hours before returning home, officials said. Two other B-52s from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota conducted the same type of long-range mission in the area on Nov. 21.
The flight on Thursday comes on the heels of the assassination last month of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, an attack Iran has blamed on Israel with possible American complicity. The bomber missions also come just weeks before the anniversary of the American drone strike in January that killed a senior Iranian commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, in Iraq.
“Potential adversaries should understand that no nation on earth is more ready and capable of rapidly deploying additional combat power in the face of any aggression,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command, said in a statement on Thursday.
“We do not seek conflict,” General McKenzie said, “but we must remain postured and committed to respond to any contingency.”
Military officials declined to say what live munitions, if any, the aircraft carried on their recent missions, but in recent years, the hulking bombers have conducted strikes with laser-guided conventional bombs against insurgent targets in Afghanistan.
Even as American officials sought to cast the flights as defensive in nature, President Trump’s top national security advisers had days earlier dissuaded him — at least for now — from considering bombing Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks.
Given that White House officials have discussed aggressive options, Middle East specialists say it is little wonder that Iran may have difficulty deciphering the Trump administration’s intentions, especially during a volatile period in which Mr. Trump continues to insist falsely that he defeated President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“Iranians should be confused about how to interpret signals from a president whose policies and public statements have been so incoherent, impulsive and mercurial,” said Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “I suspect their goal is to simply wait out the madman until Biden comes.”
Iran issued no immediate comment on the flights.
In a briefing with a small group of reporters before the mission on Thursday, a senior military official said American intelligence analysts had detected “planning going on” — including preparations for possible rocket strikes or worse — by Iran and Shia militias in Iraq that it supports.
Over the past year, Iranian-aligned proxies in Iraq have conducted more than 50 rocket attacks on bases where United States troops are housed, as well as on the American Embassy in Baghdad, and launched 90 attacks on convoys carrying supplies to American troops, according to the Pentagon.
“In short, Iran is using Iraq as its proxy battleground against the United States, with Iran’s ultimate objective being to eject the United States and our forces from Iraq and the broader Middle East,” General McKenzie said last month during a virtual conference on the Middle East.
Many senior United States commanders and intelligence analysts say that since the death of General Suleimani, who ran the elite Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran may not exercise the same degree of control over Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq that it once did. Some of these militias could lash out without Tehran’s blessing, possibly inciting escalation and a military exchange between Iran and the United States.
The senior military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe operations and intelligence assessments, did not cite any specific evidence of a larger, imminent attack against American personnel. But the official said military analysts assessed that the likelihood of Iran or its proxies miscalculating the risks of such a strike were higher than usual.
This assessment prompted the additional deterrent measures, the official said.
The United States has also dispatched an additional squadron of strike aircraft to Saudi Arabia in recent weeks. And the aircraft carrier Nimitz, which had left the Middle East on Nov. 15 to participate in a naval exercise off the coast of India, returned to the region 10 days later, ostensibly to provide protection to the several thousand forces that Mr. Trump ordered to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The ability to fly strategic bombers halfway across the world in a nonstop mission, and to rapidly integrate them with multiple regional partners, demonstrates our close working relationships and our shared commitment to regional security and stability,” General McKenzie said.
Tensions had been high approaching the anniversary of the killing of General Suleimani in Iraq, where the Trump administration said he was planning attacks on American forces.
Iran responded with missile strikes against bases in Iraq where United States troops were. No one was killed and the immediate crisis subsided, although Iran has said it had not fully avenged General Suleimani’s death.
More recently, a top Iranian scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed east of Tehran, in a daytime strike widely believed to have been carried out by Israeli operatives. American and Israeli officials say Mr. Fakhrizadeh was considered the driving force behind what they have described as Iran’s secretive nuclear weapons program.
Iran responded this month by enacting a law ordering an immediate ramping up of its enrichment of uranium to levels closer to weapons-grade fuel.
Before the assassination, there was considerable evidence that the Iranians were laying low, avoiding provocations that might give Mr. Trump a pretense to strike before he leaves office.
Iran’s leaders have made clear that regime survival is their No. 1 goal, and they have been careful not to take risks that could upend their hopes of a Biden administration lifting sanctions in exchange for restoring the nuclear deal with the United States.
But many military experts fear that the assassination might scramble the calculus in Tehran.
“The Iranians are going to be in a position where they have to retaliate,” Adm. William H. McRaven, the former commander of the military’s Special Operations Command, told ABC “This Week” two days after the killing. “They’re going to have to save face. And so now the issue becomes, what does that retaliation look like?”
“The Iranians don’t want to go to war with us,” Admiral McRaven continued. “We don’t want to go to war with Iran. So everybody needs to do the best they can to kind of lower the temperature and try not to get this into an escalation mode.”
Top United States military officials say a fragile balance may be holding. As Vice Adm. Samuel Paparo, the commander of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, put it last week at the Manama Dialogue regional security conference, “We have achieved an uneasy deterrence.”
Several armored Israeli military vehicles carried out, on Wednesday morning, limited invasions in the central and northern parts of the Gaza Strip, and uprooted Palestinian lands.
The army vehicles, including bulldozers, invaded Palestinian lands east of Juhr ed-Deek, northeast of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, and bulldozed several sections close to the perimeter fence.
The vehicles also invaded and bulldozed lands near the fence, east of Jabalia town, in the northern part of the coastal regions, and installed sand hills.
It is worth mentioning that the army carries out frequent invasions into farmlands near the fence, along the eastern parts of the Gaza Strip, in addition to constant attacks against the fishermen and their boats in Palestinian territorial waters.
On Wednesday at dawn, the soldiers abducted, nineteen Palestinians from their homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank.
09 Dec 2020
Resignation of opposition from National & State Assemblies of Pakistan, will be game changer (ii)- Powerful Christian West is not interested in bringing Muslim world under its direct rule of liberal secular Western democracy (iii)- Secular democratic India should rule over Muslim world with the support of the West led by the USA
After the December 8-9 meeting of the ‘Pakistan Democratic Movement’ (PDM) all the 11 political parties of the PDM (which got about 70 % votes in 2018 elections and that too in allegedly rigged elections) have decided to resign by December 31 from the membership of the National and State Assemblies as reported at https://tribune.com.pk/story/2275161/opposition-to-quit-assemblies . These mass scale resignations by opposition are bound to make the long march to and Dharna (sit-in) at Islamabad (after Lahore Jalsa on December 13) by the PDM much more participatory, ferocious and violent.
Two major parties (PML-N & PPP) have agreed for the leadership (of the PDM) of Maulana (Chief of comparatively smaller party, the JUI-F) mainly due to the simple reason that they know (when push comes to shove) it will be Jihadis of Maulana who will win the battle by the PDM against the establishment of Pakistan.(including Jihadis who will come from Afghanistan which is the reason some members of the PDM do not want any border with Afghanistan as they demanded during a public meeting of the PDM where they threatened to remove the fencing at the border of Pakistan with Afghanistan)
The USA should also not forget that after becoming Chief of PDM in September end, Maulana said – “If Pak military does not mend its ways then its fate will be as humiliating as suffered by the military of the USA & its allies including NATO in Afghanistan at the hands of militant Jihadis”. The way the agitation of PDM [where Maulana is publicly threatening the establishment that ‘Danda’ (sticks) of Jihadis against the ‘Danda’ of the government and much more with no reaction from the security forces of Pakistan] is taking shape under the leadership of Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman along with the signs Pak military is projecting, it is obvious that Pak military is increasingly getting reconciled of becoming the ‘Sword of Islam’ under the leadership of Maulana (and it is not going to be for entire Islam as is evident from the speeches of Maulana who is spewing venom against the Qadiyani (Ahamadiya) Muslims of Pakistan)
The USA (the friend & protector of Israel and the leader of the free world) should know that if the government of nuclear Pakistan (headed by Maulana as President, which is increasingly becoming inevitable) comes under the influence of militant Jihadis then it is not merely the Kashmir problem with India which may be sought to be addressed by Pakistan with help of nukes but even the Palestine problem with Israel will be sought to be addressed by Pakistan with the threat of nuclear flare up especially in view of the fact that the new Muslim block of Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Malaysia etc are demanding hardline approach against Israel for the – solution of Palestine problem (which is nothing but one-State-solution which unfortunately is not being demanded by even Palestinians / Muslims).
Such a dire situation does not get any relief due to the fact that the powerful Christian West is not interested in ruling over Muslim world in the interest of bringing human rights friendly liberal secular Western democracy in the Muslim world. As far as India is considered it is, as usual, adopting the ostrich approach. In a TV program by ‘The Festival of Bharat’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qllMfxOelA) the participants rightly extolled the praiseworthy code of conduct followed by Hindu warriors (as mentioned also in Mahabharat of the time when rest of the world was barbarians by comparison). Though Hindus need not emulate the uncivilized behavior which Muslim invaders and even rulers had shown (mostly in the name of Islam) towards Hindus but at the same time Indians should know that the said uncivilized version of Islam is still present in this world surrounding India. Hence unless Islam is tempered to adopt civilized behavior commensurate with human rights friendly secular democratic ideology of contemporary world, the Indians will never remain in peace.
The problem with India is that though Muslims (from Central Asia to NAME region) invaded and even ruled India with increasing degree for about 1,000 years since 8th to 18th century with horrible violence, but now when an opportunity has come for Indians to rule over the Muslim world with the support of the West led by the USA (even in the interest of human rights of hundreds of millions of Muslims who are weeping & bleeding profusely from Kashmir to NAME region) then the Hindu majority India (presently under the self-defeating communal ideology of ‘Sangh Parivar’ the BJP, RSS, etc) start getting pain in its stomach.
The Indians should know that they can easily rule the entire Muslim world in four stages as given below:-
(1)- By taking the advantage of the China factor the Indian Muslims should be asked to get justice by filing 6 writ petitions in the SCI (and corresponding petitions in NHRC for intervention in these proceedings of the SCI) and then by launching a Lobbying-NGO in the USA for moving the US – Prez / Congress / USCIRF for realizing the objectives of these NGOs, as mentioned at : –
(2)- With US help, by realizing ‘Federation of Secular Democratic mini-SAARC’ of independent countries of India, Afghanistan, United J&K (if it opts for highly likely independence during plebiscite as mandated by IoA) and Balochistan [which was assimilated in Pakistan through an IoA under military pressure (unlike IoA of J&K to India which was signed without military pressure) and against the will of the representatives of Balochs as mentioned at https://nation.com.pk/05-Dec-2015/how-balochistan-became-a-part-of-pakistan-a-historical-perspective ] which will opt for highly likely independence during plebiscite in Balochistan which Balochs are demanding.
(3)- After said dual citizenship for about 160 million Hindus & Muslims who were displaced through illegal population transfer during partition (about 40 million Hindus having dual citizenship in each of Pakistan & Bangladesh) the said mini-SAARC, with US help, can be converted into SAARC which will have about 650 million Muslims in it (from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan etc) led by about 1,200 million Hindus.
(4)- SAARC and remaining Muslim countries can enter into a treaty of having political parties on mutual basis under security guarantee (internal & external) of the USA which will bring human rights friendly secular democracy in the entire Muslim world.
It is hoped that the USA & Israel will realize the present dangerous situation where – if India does not take the lead for bringing the entire Muslim world under its political & military control (with the help of the USA) through human rights friendly secular democracy then not only India but the USA & Israel should also be prepared to see a Caliphate (Sunni-Ayatollah) in nuclear Pakistan (with obvious threat to entire world)
Associated PressDecember 9, 2020
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s military says two soldiers were killed by Indian fire in Kashmir overnight, with each side blaming the other for the latest violence in the disputed Himalayan region. A Pakistani army officer tweeted that Indian troops opened fire and Pakistan “responded befittingly.” An Indian army spokesman, said Pakistan initiated the fighting by firing bullets and mortar shells along the Line of Control that separates the two sides. India did not report any casualties. The two nuclear-armed rivals routinely accuse each other of unprovoked attacks in violation of a 2003 cease-fire agreement along the highly militarized Line of Control.
Influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has long been politically influential in Iraq. His current bloc, Sairoun, had been set to be a leading opposition party trying to hold the rulers to reform promises. Now, they are moving away from that, and toward directly challenging the June vote.
Sadr’s supporters are now on board to run to win, and are talking something modern Iraq has yet to see, an absolute majority in the election, allowing the party to select its own PM. This is fueling speculation that Sadr himself might seek the post.
This isn’t impossible to envision, as Sadr is popular with the Shi’ite majority and probably would be well received. At the same time, he hasn’t expressed personal political aspirations before, and Iraq’ s top Shi’ite leader, Ayatollah Sistani, has long limited direct political involvement, which may be informing the separation of politics and religion.
Comments from the faction could just as easily mean they want to appoint a politician as the PM as opposed to Sadr himself. He’s long commanded the loyalty of his nationalist parties anyhow, which means directly holding the position is not necessary.