From Amusement Park to Power Plant
NY TIMES 8apr03
Consolidated Edison built the first privately financed, commercial nuclear
power plant in the United States in Buchanan, N.Y. That plant and the two others
eventually built on the site have had troubled histories.
- Oct. 8, 1954. Con Edison announces the purchase of a 260-acre site in
Buchanan, the former Indian Point amusement park and adjacent land, 35 miles
north of midtown Manhattan, to construct an atomic power plant.
- Sept. 16, 1962. The reactor that would become known as Indian Point 1
begins generating power.
- Dec. 10, 1962. Con Edison applies for a permit to build another reactor,
in Ravenswood, Queens. The application is withdrawn on Jan. 6, 1964, after
- May 27, 1965. Seven Congressmen from New York State accuse state officials
of covering up the killing of fish in the Hudson River near the Indian Point
power plant. The fish kills are blamed on hot water the plant discharges
into the river from its cooling systems.
- Nov. 23, 1965. Con Edison's directors approve plans to build a second
nuclear reactor at Indian Point. Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller calls the move
"of major importance to our state and its expanding atomic
- April 1967. Con Edison applies for permission to build a third nuclear
plant at Indian Point. Permission is granted in August 1969.
- May 13, 1970. The state charges Con Edison with serious violations of
state conservation laws in the operation of its nuclear generating plant and
asks that the plant be closed until "suitable methods" to protect
the Hudson River can be developed. State seeks $5 million in damages for the
loss of fish.
- June 30, 1970. Indian Point 1 is shut down because of defects in the
stainless steel piping used to help keep the reactor cool. Meanwhile, the
plant is fined $1.6 million for fish kills in Hudson caused by its hot water
- May 1972. The state levies $1.5 million in fines against Con Edison for
"massive" fish kills in the Hudson. The total fine is based on a
civil penalty of $500 plus $10 for each fish killed.
- June 26, 1973. In a test, Indian Point 2 produces power for the first
time. It goes into full operation more than a year later in October 1974,
after repairs to the steel liner in the reinforced concrete dome protecting
- Dec. 1, 1973. Con Edison acknowledges that its new power plant, Indian
Point 2, has significant problems, after an accident forced it to shut down.
Con Edison officials says the problems centered around a buckling and
bulging of the steel liner in the reinforced concrete dome in which the
nuclear plant is housed.
- Sept. 18, 1974. The State Legislature votes to allow the Power Authority
of the State of New York to take over Con Edison's Indian Point 3 plant,
which is still under construction, to help save the financially ailing Con
- Oct. 14, 1974. Indian Point 1 is permanently shut down, 12 years after
going into operation, because it lacks an emergency cooling system for the
reactor core, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission insists be added. The
plant is retired but not decommissioned.
- Dec. 30, 1975. Under pressure from Gov. Hugh L. Carey, Con Edison agrees
to sell Indian Point 3 to the State Power Authority. The action disappoints
environmentalists who hoped the sale could be blocked and the plant closed
down as a threat to the Hudson River and adjacent areas of Westchester
- Jan. 20, 1976. William N. Anders, chairman of the N.R.C., orders two
separate investigations of two Indian Point reactors a week after Robert D.
Pollard, the commission's project manager for Indian Point 3, questioned
plant safety and resigned from the N.R.C. staff. After hearings in
Washington, the N.R.C. decided to take no action.
- Aug. 30, 1976. Indian Point 3 goes into operation.
- October 1979. An accident occurs at the Three Mile Island power plant in
Middletown, Pa. President Carter appoints a commission to investigate, and
to consider whether any of the nation's existing reactors should be shut
- Dec. 18, 1979. The N.R.C. says that emergency evacuation plans for Indian
Point are "lacking." The commission gives Con Edison and the State
Power Authority two months to submit revisions.
- Jan. 29, 1980. The two nuclear plants at Indian Point have been shut down
for five months for refueling, maintenance and repairs, and the N.R.C. says
safety improvements must be completed before they can resume operation.
Indian Point 2 is restarted in early February and Indian Point 3 returns to
service on Feb. 16.
- Feb. 27, 1980. Con Edison accedes to the wishes of the N.R.C. and retires
Indian Point 1 permanently.
- Oct. 17, 1980. A major water leak in a joint of a pipe carrying
nonradioactive water at Indian Point 2 releases about 100,000 gallons of
water, flooding a containment building of Indian Point 2.
- Oct. 24, 1980. The N.R.C. orders Indian Point 2 shut down until Con Edison
determines how the leak went unnoticed. Five days later, the commission
initiates an investigation to determine why Con Edison failed to notify the
commission about the leak.
- Dec. 10, 1980. The N.R.C. fines Con Edison $210,000 for the flooding in
- Jan. 31, 1981. The State Power Authority shuts down Indian Point 3 because
of malfunction in the plant's steam turbine section. Meanwhile, officials
from the four-county area within 10 miles of Indian Point testify that an
emergency evacuation plan presented by the utilities contains major flaws
and urges that they not be approved.
- April 7, 1981. The technical staff of the N.R.C. says the Indian Point 2
nuclear reactor apparently suffered no damage from the flooding incident,
clearing the way for the unit to be restarted. But one month later, Con
Edison announces it has run into still another mechanical problem with
Indian Point 2 and will not be able to put plant back in service until the
end of May.
- May 26, 1981. Indian Point 2 resumes service.
- Dec. 11, 1981. Con Edison is fined $40,000 by the N.R.C. for not
protecting workers from radiation at its Indian Point 2 plant.
- March 3, 1982. Indian Point simulates a major accident to test emergency
evacuation plans. Federal officials say later that the drill was
"generally good," although there were areas that need
- Aug. 2, 1982. The N.R.C. threatens to close Indian Point unless flaws in
the emergency evacuation plans for the area surrounding the plant are
corrected within four months. The commission cites deficiencies in
provisions for notifying residents in the area, for educating the public in
advance about what to do, for making agreements with bus companies to
provide emergency service and for limiting exposure of emergency workers to
- Sept. 2, 1982. The chairman of a three-judge panel conducting hearings on
safety of the two Indian Point plant resigns, saying the N.R.C. was not
giving opponents of the plant a fair chance to state their case. The
chairman, Administrative Law Judge Louis J. Carter, had been presiding at
hearings ordered by the commission.
- Dec. 17, 1982. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is charged
with evaluating preparations to cope with an accident at Indian Point, says
the emergency plants were "not feasible" because of significant
deficiencies. The agency says it will decide whether to fine the utility
operators, suspend the plant's operating licenses or take other action.
- Dec. 22, 1982. The N.R.C. votes 3 to 2 to permit the Indian Point nuclear
reactors to operate and to wait until an accident drill in March to
determine whether deficiencies in emergency planning had been corrected.
- March 9, 1983. Two thousand people, from bus drivers to county executives,
test their ability to respond to a major accident at the Indian Point
plants, under the observation of 55 Federal inspectors and one of the five
members of N.R.C.
- April 15, 1983. FEMA issues a report based on the March drill that
concludes the area around Indian Point is not prepared for a possible
accident at the nuclear reactors, and the safety for the 288,000 people
living in the area cannot be assured.
- Aug. 26, 1983. FEMA says officials had remedied deficiencies in the plans
for coping with an accident at Indian Point and prepares a report for the
N.R.C., ending what was then the plant's most serious threat to its license.
- Dec. 30, 1993. Ten months after Indian Point 3 was shut down because of
mismanagement and safety problems, Federal regulators tell plant managers
they are concerned that personnel there cannot handle the plant safely even
when it is shut down. It does not reopen until July 1995.
- Feb. 14, 2000. In the most serious incident since the plant opened in
1974, a rupture in a steam generator tube at Indian Point 2 releases a
minute amount of radioactive steam, though federal regulators and company
officials say public health was not threatened. The reactor is shut until
- Jan. 10, 2003. With anxiety about the the plant growing in the aftermath
of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a consultant hired by Gov. George
E. Pataki calls emergency plans inadequate to protect the public from a
disastrous leak of radiation at Indian Point. The consultant, James Lee
Witt, former director of FEMA, says the plans fail to take into account the
possibility of a terrorist attack.
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