THE BLOG

Can Rudy Giuliani Save Indian Point?

08/04/2011 01:50 pm ET | Updated Oct 04, 2011
  • Dan Collins New York Editor-at-Large, The Huffington Post

Entergy, the embattled operator of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, wants to hire Rudy Giuliani to front an advertising campaign to keep the facility open. The two are in talks about a possible leading man role for the former mayor, according to the New York Times.

So many questions come to mind. Or at least two: 1) How do you feel about having a nuclear power plant only 27 miles from New York City? 2) Would you feel any better about it if Rudy Giuliani told you it was okay?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to have already made up his mind about question one. He appears determined to close the plant -- he's called for its elimination since he first ran for governor in 2002 and everyone was worried about a possible terror attack. Cuomo's desire to be done with Indian Point seems to have intensified, if that's possible, since the recent nuclear disaster in Japan.

Geography is Indian Point's big weakness. Some 20 million people live within 50 miles of the plant. If anything disastrous happens, we're all toast. There's no way to evacuate that many people.

"This plant in this proximity to the city was never a good risk," Cuomo said.

But hope springs eternal, and Entergy may turn again to Old 9/11 for help in calming the public's fears and Cuomo's determination.

Giuliani has been shilling for Entergy (and nuclear power) since 2003, when the energy company hired Giuliani Partners, the former mayor's consulting firm, to advise Entergy on plant security and evacuation procedures.

Giuliani immediately dispatched his best man -- now-convicted felon Bernie Kerik -- to advise Entergy on security matters. The disgraced former police commissioner has been an embarrassment to the mayor who hired him, and once tried to make him head of the nation's homeland security, for years. So, no surprise that he was in the nuclear power mix too.

Kerik was on hand to offer his presumed expertise during a 2004 drill at Indian Point that featured a phony terrorist attack. Bogus jihadists piloting a non-existent Boeing 747 jetliner fake-crashed into the nuclear facility, causing a large fantasy fire and invisible building damage. But the plucky plant pulled through.

Giuliani Partners later declared Entergy to be a model of safety.

Despite that seal of approval, Indian Point has had its share of safety problems over the years, including a transformer explosion in 2010 and the accidental leakage of 600,000 gallons of radioactive steam into the atmosphere. There's also another unpleasant little fact: the Hudson River nuke plant has the highest chance of suffering serious earthquake damage of the 104 commercial nuclear reactors in the U.S. That's because Indian Point stand near a fault zone that runs through New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

So there's little wonder that Cuomo is eyeing Entergy, and Entergy is again eyeing Giuliani. Over the years, the former GOP presidential hopeful's key argument, repeated again and again, is that nuclear power hasn't killed anybody. Sometimes he says it hasn't killed anybody at Three Mile Island. At other times, it hasn't killed anybody in the U.S. or Japan. And sometimes, it's been the whole planet.

"Nuclear power is dangerous, so is every other form of power, but nobody's died from nuclear power. China is building 40 nuclear power plants, India just made a deal so they can build nuclear power plants," Giuliani said in an interview a few years ago.

Giuliani never mentions the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, where at least 50 people were killed and another 4,000 are expected to die from cancer caused by radiation poisoning, according to a UN report. (Giuliani twitched the same blind eye to assert that there were no terrorist attacks on the U.S. during George W. Bush's eight years in office. Yes, Mr. Sept. 11 had forgotten all about Sept. 11.)

Let me stop here by answering my own two questions. 1) According to my calculations, I spend 98 percent of my time living within the Indian Point impossible-to-evacuate zone, and I do not feel great about it. 2) Having Rudy Giuliani's assurance I'm in no danger is about as soothing as Donald Trump's assurance that my barber knows what he's doing.

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