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As Indian Point Goes Dark, New York Races to Swap Nuclear With Wind

Shutting down the long-troubled nuclear plant will mean replacing zero-emission electricity with natural gas—for now

A view of Indian Point nuclear power plant in 2008 along New York’s Hudson River.

A view of Indian Point nuclear power plant in 2008 along New York’s Hudson River.

One of the pair of active nuclear reactors within blast radius of Manhattan made a federal safety watch-list back in 1993. That’s when regulators cited Unit 3 at the Indian Point Energy Center for leaky coolant pipes and faltering engineering support. Shortly thereafter a control-room operator tested positive for marijuana and cocaine. But none of that helped activists’ long quest to turn off the nuclear plant.

Up until Friday, when Indian Point’s final reactor will be shut down, dogged opposition from environmentalists and safety advocates failed for decades to shut it down permanently. The two reactors produced about 2.1 gigawatts of power for nearly 45 years—enough to meet a quarter of demand from New York City, without emitting greenhouse gas.