The start of a two-week-long Lincoln Center film screening of Indian Point, a documentary about the controversial nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y., gave New Yorkers an opportunity to share their concerns about their safety five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
The film offers a look inside the power plant, located 35 miles from midtown Manhattan on the Hudson River. In addition to speaking with several anti-nuclear advocates, director Ivy Meeropol gained unprecedented access inside the highly guarded plant for her 94- minute documentary.
On July 8, Meeropol and the film’s subjects, including Indian Point senior control room operator Brian Vangor, science journalist Roger Witherspoon, activist Marilyn Elie and former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Gregory Jaczko answered New Yorkers’ anti-plant questions after the first screening of the film at Lincoln Center’s 85-seat Howard Gilman Theater. The film will have five showings daily until July 21.
With more than 50 million people living in close proximity to the facility, the Indian Point Energy Center’s continued operation has stoked a great deal of controversy in the surrounding community, including a vocal anti-nuclear contingent concerned that the kind of disaster that happened at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant could happen in New York.
Meeropol was quick to explain that her film was “not about whether nuclear power is good or bad.” Instead she sought to understand the impact of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster on New York.
“The relevant questions to me [while making this film] were: Do we continue operating aging plants, especially one like Indian Point, which is situated in the middle of the largest population of any nuclear power plant in the nation, and if so, who or what organization will make sure these plants are run safely?” the director said.
Vangor, who has worked at Indian Point for 35 years, asserted that Indian Point is under rigorous oversight. The power plant’s owner, Entergy, is currently campaigning to relicense it for another 20 years of operation.
Vangor also explained his decision to allow Meeropol and her camera into the plant back in 2011.
“I thought it was good for everyone outside the plant to see what it looks like inside and how we operate,” Vangor said. “It was as simple as that.”
Meeropol was quick to defend Vangor.
“What I realized while making this film is that vilifying people like Brian is completely the wrong thing to do,” Meeropol said. “He cares about all of our safety just as much as the [anti-nuclear activists do]. And we need people like Brian because he is one of the only people at the plant who knows what it all does and leads to.”