Cleaner Energy Options Available to Replace Nuclear Power Plant
A wide range of safer, cleaner energy options are available to replace Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y., if the nuclear plant is not relicensed in 2015, according to an independent analysis commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Riverkeeper. Thanks to an energy generation surplus it can be done at no impact to the reliability of the region’s electricity supply and at modest cost. A related new NRDC analysis of the costs and consequences of an accident at Indian Point also reveals it could cause a catastrophe far worse than the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
“The world watched the nuclear crisis in Japan with fear and heavy hearts. No one wants to see a repeat here in one of the most densely populated regions of the country,” said NRDC President Frances Beinecke. “Fortunately, we have a wealth of safer energy sources ready to go that can fully replace the power from Indian Point. When we consider the human and economic costs of a nuclear crisis in New York, and the host of benefits from investing in clean energy, the solution is common sense.”
NRDC’s new risk analysis compares the human and financial costs of the Fukushima disaster to the potential risks of a nuclear crisis at Indian Point, and reveals that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) still underestimates the danger posed to Indian Point from seismic activity. An accident at one of Indian Point’s reactors on the scale of the recent catastrophe in Japan could send a fallout plume south to the New York City metropolitan area, require the sheltering or evacuation of millions of people, and cost 10 to 100 times more than Fukushima’s disaster.
Fortunately, a wide range of alternative energy options are available today that can replace the full electricity capacity provided by Indian Point Energy Center. Findings show that energy efficiency and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, alone could meet energy demand in the region. And there is additional capacity available through new transmission projects and by making existing natural gas power plants much more efficient.
Safer Energy Alternatives—Available and Ready to Go
A new report prepared for NRDC and Riverkeeper by economics consulting firm Synapse Energy Economics examines energy alternatives to Indian Point. The report finds that there is currently a surplus of electricity capacity in the regions near Indian Point, including New York City, and that even if the Indian Point units were closed when their current operating licenses expire by 2015, there would be no need for new electric capacity to meet reliability requirements until 2020. The replacement options identified in the report are either already underway or can be implemented well before then.
The report, Indian Point Energy Center Nuclear Plant Retirement Analysis; Replacement Options, Reliability Issues and Economic Effects, identifies the following conservative estimates of alternative energy sources that are available to replace Indian Point’s 2,000 MW of electric capacity by 2020:
- About 1,550 MW in savings from new energy efficiency resources in the Indian Point region, beyond those that are already planned. Additional savings are available in the rest of the state.
- Nearly 600 MW of renewable energy capacity to meet peak electricity demand (and up to 3,000 MW total capacity) by 2015. In total, more than 6,000 MW of renewable energy projects like wind and solar are already in the planning process in the state.
- 8,000 MW from proposed new transmission lines to bring power to New York City from upstate New York and other regions, including the already approved 660 MW Hudson Transmission Line, and nearly 2,000 MW of lines are already well along in the approval process.
- More than 1,000 MW from increased efficiency at existing, outdated natural gas plants in New York City, which involves updating their technology to increase power output and reduce air emissions and other pollution.
Replacing Indian Point’s capacity can be done on time and without significant cost increases to consumers. Many of the projects and initiatives are already underway, and will be built whether Indian Point closes down or not. Our report estimates that this transition will likely add about $1 to $3 per month to consumers’ bills on the low end, or $4 to $5 per month on the high end. The more reliance on energy efficiency, the lower the costs will be, and customers who participate in new energy efficiency programs will be able to lower their bills.
“The more you learn about Indian Point, the more you know it must close,” said Robert Kennedy Jr., chief prosecuting attorney for Riverkeeper and senior attorney at NRDC. “It’s too old, near too many people, and too vulnerable to fire, earthquake, outside attack and a host of other potential disasters. What’s more, we simply don’t need Indian Point’s dirty, dangerous power. Current surpluses are sufficient to consign Indian Point to the scrap heap when its licenses expire if not sooner. By the time we start to need more power—in 2020—we’ll have at least another 4,500 megawatts in replacement energy and efficiency savings in place. New York is safer, more secure and simply better off without Indian Point.”
Risk and Consequence of a Severe Accident at Indian Point
Indian Point Energy Center is located on the Hudson River in Westchester County, just 34 miles north of the center of Manhattan.
NRDC’s report is the first to compare the human and financial costs of the Fukushima disaster to the potential risks of a nuclear catastrophe at Indian Point. It provides new information about the risk and consequences of an accident at this facility, including maps of radiation plumes.
Of the 104 operating U.S. nuclear reactors, it finds that Indian Point’s two reactors present extraordinary risks for three reasons. First, the Indian Point units are located in a seismically active area without sufficient protection against losing electricity during earthquakes or other natural disasters like flooding, hurricanes or tornadoes. Second, very large populations could be exposed to radiation in the event of a major accident. And third, owners Entergy Nuclear Northeast have applied to the federal government for permission to continue to operate these units for another 20 years beyond their engineered 40-year lifespan.
An accident at only one of Indian Point’s reactors on the scale of the recent catastrophe in Japan could require the sheltering or evacuation of up to 5.6 million people in the metro area, putting them at increased risk for cancer and genetic damage due to radiation exposure. The plume could contaminate a swath of land to uninhabitable levels of radiation down to the George Washington Bridge.
An accident nearly 10 times worse than Japan’s—where there is a meltdown at only one of Indian Point’s reactors, releasing radiation on the scale of Chernobyl—could put New York city residents at risk of 25 times higher radiation doses than a Fukushima-sized accident, requiring the administration of stable iodine tablets to 10 million people. In the aftermath of an accident on this scale, if Manhattan were downwind from the reactor, it would become too radioactively contaminated to live in. This more severe accident could also put thousands at risk for potentially fatal radiation sickness in the Hudson Valley.
Finally, the estimated cost alone for cleanup and compensation for the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plants is at about $60 billion and counting, and NRDC estimates that an accident at Indian Point could cost 10 to 100 times more. The costs of a severe accident at Indian Point would be significantly higher here because of the value of real estate and economic activity that would be lost in its wake.
To view the report, click here.
For more information, click here.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org.
Riverkeeper is a member-supported, watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. For more information, please visit www.riverkeeper.org
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The temperature of the Arctic matters to the entire world: it helps to keep the global climate fairly cool. Scientists now say that by 2035 there could be an end to Arctic sea ice.
Melt Ponds Crucial<p>"The prospect of loss of sea ice by 2035 should really be focusing all our minds on achieving a low-carbon world as soon as humanly feasible."</p><p><a href="http://www.reading.ac.uk/search/search-staff-details.aspx?id=10813" target="_blank">Dr. David Schroeder from the University of Reading</a>, UK, who co-led the implementation of the melt pond scheme in the climate model, says, "This shows just how important sea ice processes like melt ponds are in the Arctic, and why it is crucial that they are incorporated into climate models."</p><p>The extent of the areas <a href="https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/seaice/characteristics/formation.html" target="_blank">sea ice</a> covers varies between summer and winter. If more solar energy is absorbed at the surface, and temperatures rise further, a cycle of warming and melting occurs during summer months.</p><p>When the ice forms, the ocean water beneath becomes saltier and denser than the surrounding ocean. Saltier water sinks and moves along the ocean bottom towards the equator, while warm water from mid-depths to the surface travels from the equator towards the poles.</p><p>Scientists refer to this process as the ocean's global "conveyor-belt." Changes to the volume of sea ice can disrupt normal ocean circulation, with consequences for global climate. </p>
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Russia's Health Ministry has given regulatory approval for the world's first COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
Putin's Daughter Among Vaccinated<p>The Russian leader also said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated and is feeling well.</p><p>"One of my daughters got vaccinated, so in this sense, she took part in the testing," Putin said.</p><p>After the first vaccine shot, his daughter experienced a slight fever, 38 degrees Celsius (100.4°F). Her temperature came down to just slightly above normal the next day. </p><p>"After the second shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine. She is feeling well and has a high antibody count," Putin said. </p><p>He didn't specify which of his two daughters, Maria or Katerina, received the vaccine.</p><p>Russian health authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to receive shots of the vaccine.</p>
Years of Work Reduced to Weeks<p>Russia is the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine. As <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/germany-coronavirus-vaccine-may-only-be-available-in-mid-2021/a-54362065" target="_blank">countries worldwide race to produce the first vaccine</a>, health experts warn that speed and national pride could compromise safety.</p><p>Scientists in Russia and abroad have questioned Moscow's decision to register the vaccine before Phase 3 trials that normally last for months and involve thousands of people, but Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary trials and that vaccination will be voluntary.</p><p>Russian officials have said that large-scale production of the vaccine will begin in September, and mass vaccination may start as early as October.</p><p>Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, has <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippines-duterte-volunteers-to-be-putins-russian-coronavirus-vaccine-guinea-pig/a-54523030" target="_blank">lauded Russia's efforts in developing the vaccine</a> and said that the Philippines is ready to work with Moscow on vaccine trials, supply and production. Duterte volunteered to "be the first they can experiment on."</p><p>"I will tell President Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity," Duterte said, adding that he thinks Russia's vaccine will be ready for the Philippines by December.</p>
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My name is Arkilaus Kladit. I'm from the Knasaimos-Tehit tribe in South Sorong Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. For decades my tribe has been fighting to protect our forests from outsiders who want to log it or clear it for palm oil. For my people, the forest is our mother and our best friend. Everything we need to survive comes from the forest: food, medicines, building materials, and there are many sacred sites in the forest.
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Overthinkers are people who are buried in their own obsessive thoughts. Imagine being in a large maze where each turn leads into an even deeper and knottier tangle of catastrophic, distressing events — that is what it feels like to them when they think about the issues that confront them.
Ruminating<p>According to the late Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a professor of psychology at Yale University, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796420/" target="_blank">ruminating</a> involves replaying a problem over and over in your mind. We ruminate by obsessing over our thoughts and thinking repetitively about various aspects of a past situation.</p><p>It usually involves regret, self-loathing and self-blaming. Rumination is associated with the development of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. </p><p>People prone to such patterns of thought may, for example, overanalyze every single detail of a relationship that breaks up. They often blame themselves for what has happened and are overcome with regret, with typical thoughts being: </p><p>- I should have been more patient and more supportive. </p><p>- I have lost the most perfect partner ever. </p><p>- No one will love me again.</p>
Worrying<p>Worrying is wanting to predict the future. It involves negative thoughts about things that might and might not happen.</p><p>- They'll not like me in the interview; they'll not give me the job. </p><p>- I haven't heard back from other employers. How long will I be unemployed?</p><p>These thoughts are energy-draining and distressing. They could happen to anyone under stress. But when you reach the point where your thoughts and worrying are preventing you from doing what you want to do — from living your life to the fullest — then you should take action.</p>
Catch Yourself Overthinking<p>Reuben Berger, a psychotherapist at the university hospital in the western German city of Bonn, recommends several practical steps that you could employ in your daily routine when you catch yourself worrying or ruminating.</p><p>One effective remedy, says Berger, is the <a href="https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uf9938" target="_blank">thought-stopping technique.</a></p><p>"When the negative thoughts come or ruminations start, you say to yourself: 'Stop!,'" he says, adding that it is more effective when you actually say the word out loud.</p><p>He even recommends having a rubber band around your wrist to ping against yourself while saying the word. Adding a visual component by imagining a stop sign also makes the technique more powerful, he says.</p><p>The main idea here is conditioning yourself to stop the loop of worrying (making future predictions) or rumination (obsessing over past events).</p><p>Berger says the technique could take up to two weeks to take effect and that it needs to be practiced every day. "Consistency is very important," he says. </p>
Thoughts Are Just Thoughts<p>Another way of dealing with negative thoughts often used in modern therapy is realizing that thoughts aren't facts, says Berger.</p><p>He says it is important when we think something to ask: Is that real? Did that really happen? What is the worst thing that could happen?</p><p>Flight anxiety is one example where untrue thoughts are accepted as facts. Although air travel is the safest way to get around, people suffering from fear of flying accept their thoughts and fears as reality, then act upon them by refusing to fly.</p>
Mindfulness<p>Berger also recommends the use of mindfulness techniques, in which attention is paid to experiences in the moment without judging them, as a way of reducing worrying.</p><p>"Mindfulness helps you to distance yourself from your thoughts and to be more present in the moment," he says.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3432145/#R2" target="_blank">Several studies</a> have shown that mindfulness has a positive impact on reducing stress-related behaviors such as rumination and worrying, as focusing on the moment makes anxiety about other problems impossible.</p><p>Mindfulness can be practiced during routine activities by paying attention to your body and your surroundings. For instance, when you leave for work in the morning, you can focus on sensing the breeze, listen attentively to birds, feel the gravel under your feet and monitor your breath. </p>
Trick Your Brain Into Happiness<p>People plagued by obsessive thoughts do not always choose healthy ways like mindfulness to distract from them, however.</p><p> Dr. Edward Selby, a psychologist at Florida state university, has shown in a study that people try to avoid rumination by engaging in a range of uncontrolled behaviors, such as binge eating and substance abuse.</p><p>But he says that a much better way to overcome such distress is by distraction and shifting attention away from problems that are obsessing us.</p><p>There are many activities that can be used to distract from rumination, he says, and people should choose the one that works best for them. Here are some examples:</p><p>- Listen to music</p><p>- Read a book</p><p>- Take a hot shower</p><p>- Dance or exercise </p><p>- Talk to a friend (not about the problem)</p><p>- Watch a movie</p><p>- Mindfulness meditation</p>
Changing the Perception of Events<p>The way people perceive a situation largely influences their emotions and behavior. It is not the situation itself that determines how they feel, but rather the way they interpret it.</p><p>Reframing negative thoughts can lead to positive emotions and, subsequently, healthier behaviors — including a reduction in damaging overthinking and worrying.</p><p>Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is currently a gold standard in psychotherapy. CBT aims to change the way people think and act. It largely involves challenging unhelpful beliefs or attitudes such as overgeneralization — thinking "I always fail at public speaking" when you have had one bad experience in front of an audience, for example — or "catastrophization," i.e., imagining the worst possible outcome to a situation. </p><p>A psychotherapist can teach people how to implement such thought-changing techniques into their lives. Techniques vary depending on their issues and goals.</p>
Solutions Are at Hand<p>Try to find ways of avoiding worrying, rumination and overthinking that make you feel most comfortable.</p><p>Incorporating any routine in your life when you're stressed isn't an easy task, but you can do it! If you feel overwhelmed, you can always seek professional help. </p><p><em>If you are suffering from serious emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can find information on where to find such help, no matter where you live in the world, <a href="https://www.befrienders.org/" target="_blank">at this website.</a></em></p>
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