U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is warning that cuts to the Coast Guard reportedly included in President Donald Trump’s budget plan could create a security risk at Indian Point Energy Center.
A press release from the Democratic Senate leader said the proposed 14 percent cut to the U.S. Coast Guard’s budget, along with an 11 percent cut to the Transportation Security Administration, could leave the Buchanan nuclear plant at risk.
“The Coast Guard plays a vital role protecting Indian Point against potential terror attack so any cuts – especially the large and unwarranted ones now being proposed by this administration – undermine our safety and should be rejected,” Schumer said.
Schumer pointed to the Coast Guard’s role in protecting the security of Indian Point, as well as at the Port of New York and New Jersey. He criticized Trump’s plan to divert Coast Guard and TSA funding to help fund a border wall along the southern border with Mexico.
“We know from experience from recent attacks that Homeland Security needs more support to keep us safe, not less, especially when the plan is to divert money to make the American taxpayer build a border wall that is absurdly expensive and that the experts tell us will do nothing to keep us safe from would-be terrorists,” Schumer said.
Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, a 62-page document released March 16, does not mention the Coast Guard. But draft documents from the federal Office of Management and Budget, first reported by Politico on March 7, showed a 14 percent cut to the Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget, according to Politico.
Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, called the reports inaccurate, however, and said Department of Homeland Security Secratary John Kelly is allowed to allocate the money as he sees fit, The Hill reported.
Either way, talk of cuts to the Coast Guard caused a bipartisan group of 23 U.S. Senators, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, to write to Mulvaney on March 8 urging him to rethink the reported $1.3 billion reduction.
Schumer has previously asked for an increased Coast Guard presence around Indian Point. In 2013, he called for 24-hour boat patrols on the Hudson River near the plant.
Indian Point’s operator, Entergy Corp., reached a deal with the state to shut down both its reactors by 2021. The Unit 3 reactor was shut down temporarily on March 13 as part of a $100 million refueling and maintenance operation.
Asked about Schumer’s comments, Entergy spokesperson Jerry Nappi said in a press release that the company has invested more than $100 million in security upgrades to the plant since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The plant’s security, he said, includes “multiple back-up safety systems, robust physical defenses and a security force that undergoes continual, rigorous training.”
“Indian Point has in place an NRC-approved and regulated security program designed to protect the facility, independent of outside assistance,” Nappi said. “Indian Point has strong working relationships with key federal and state law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, that also could be activated in the unlikely occurrence of a security event.”