New York Stories ; David Usborne on Why 20 Million People Worry about the Nuclear Timebomb on Their Doorstep; and Why Children of the Rich Want to Be Teachers for the Poor

By Usborne, David | The Independent (London, England), May 12, 2002 | Go to article overview
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New York Stories ; David Usborne on Why 20 Million People Worry about the Nuclear Timebomb on Their Doorstep; and Why Children of the Rich Want to Be Teachers for the Poor


Usborne, David, The Independent (London, England)


It's Mother's Day in the US, and Senator Hillary Clinton will have more than a card from Chelsea on the breakfast table. Less affectionate will be the hundreds of missives sent to her by residents in and around New York City who are concerned about dying in a nuclear catastrophe.

Blitzing the former first lady with Mother's Day mail was the idea of a group called the New York City Campaign to Close Indian Point. Its mission is simple: to persuade the state that it's time to close the Indian Point nuclear power station which sits on the Hudson river about 40 miles north of midtown Manhattan.

The waterside complex has had its detractors ever since going on- line 25 years ago. But since 11 September, what was once a fringe brigade of anti-nuke agitators has burgeoned.

Here is the startling thing about Indian Point. The USA is a big place with plenty of open space, yet this facility was built in one of the most densely populated regions. Any kind of accident would threaten up to 20 million people, who live within 50 miles of the site. Eight per cent of the US population is in its shadow.

A hearing before New York's city council last week spoke directly to the new fears about Indian Point. Various experts stepped forward to testify on just how large an aircraft terrorists would need if they planned a direct smash into one of its reinforced domes. We thought we had seen about the worst that could ever happen to this city last year, but imagine the mayhem if an attack on Indian Point succeeded.

Federal officials concede that they already have plans to trigger an immediate evacuation of all humans from the city. That is eight million of us all fleeing the nuclear cloud at once.

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