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Westchester, Rockland want to keep Indian Point, Newsday poll finds
As the controversy over the future of Indian Point continues to divide the region, more than half of Lower Hudson Valley residents surveyed said they favored keeping it open, according to a new Siena College poll commissioned by Newsday.
The poll comes as the plant's owner, Entergy Corp., has applied to renew the licenses on the site's two reactors to keep the site running for another 20 years -- a prospect being fought by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and environmentalists who want it shut down.
Of those Rockland and Westchester residents polled, 57 percent said they prefer to keep the facility open while 33 percent favored shutting it down; 9 percent had no opinion.
Support for Indian Point was level in both counties -- 58 percent in Rockland compared with 57 percent in Westchester. Opposition to the facility was 35 percent in Rockland and 33 percent in Westchester.
Republicans were the most likely to support the power plant: 74 percent gave it a thumbs-up compared with 49 percent of Democrats surveyed.
“It does more than just bring electricity…there’s lots of employment there,” said Cameron Roberts, 23, of Chappaqua, a plumber’s apprentice who was among those polled and who identified himself as a conservative.
The main reason the plant should remain open is that any option, whether it’s the building of a new facility or alternative energy, would face opposition because “nobody wants an eyesore in their backyard,” said Harry Grossman, 51, an unemployed computer executive in New Hempstead. “We want all the benefits but nobody wants the price we have to pay."
Middle-aged residents were among the most strongly opposed to keeping Indian Point open: 40 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds and 39 percent of 35- and 49-year-olds want to see it closed.
”It’s an aging plant next to a major water source for the entire area, it’s just too much of a risk,” said Aidan Nolan, 62, a songwriter who lives in Croton-on-Hudson.
“It could do a lot of harm to Westchester if something happens,” said Josefina Pimentel-Lopez, 39, a day care assistant who lives in Yonkers with her husband and three children. “If there's a terror attack at Indian Point, it will affect everybody.”
The Buchanan-based plant employs 1,100 workers at a 250-acre Hudson River waterfront site barely 40 miles from Times Square. The 40-year operating licenses expire in 2013 and 2015 on the two nuclear reactors, which supply 25 percent of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County.
The problem is that Indian Point was built 40 years ago when the region was not as densely populated as it is today, said Nick Iarocci, 47, of New City, a divorced construction company owner whose two children live with their mother in Westchester. “I don’t have anything against nuclear power, I just have a problem with the location for it,” he said.
Elmsford attorney Kathy Rosenthal, 60, said the whole topic of Indian Point is complicated. Since she answered the survey, she has switched from supporting it to opposing it. “It shows how complex this issue really is,” she said. “There should be a lot of nuance to this discussion.”
The poll of 627 Rockland and Westchester resgistered voters, which was conducted Oct. 11-17 by the Siena College Research Institute, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.