New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail, and we may include it in a future column.

Indian Point Reactor 2 to be Shut Down Before the Sixth Seal

Indian Point reactor to be shut down tomorrow

Peter KatzApril 29, 2020

The nuclear reactor that is Indian Point Unit 2 will be shut down for the final time tomorrow as part of the plan to totally take the nuclear-powered electric generating plant out of service by April 30, 2021.

The plant itself was built with three nuclear reactors that provided heat to turn water into steam to drive turbines that turn electric generators. Construction started on Reactor No. 1 on April 30, 1956. The reactor started operating in 1962. It was permanently shut down on Oct. 30, 1974.

Photo by Bob Rozycki

Reactor No. 2 began commercial operations in 1974, with Reactor No. 3 coming on line in 1976. Reactor No. 3 is scheduled to be shut down next year. Entergy purchased Indian Point units 1 and 2 from Con Edison for $602 million. It subsequently bought Unit 3 from the New York State Power Authority.

“Over the last 45 years, thousands of dedicated professionals have operated Unit 2 at Indian Point – safely, securely and reliably,” said Chris Bakken, Entergy’s chief nuclear officer. “We owe each of them our thanks for a job well done and for their commitment to the highest standards of professionalism.”

Entergy owns and operates five nuclear power units in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi along with conventional power plants. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and has approximately 13,600 employees.

The Indian Point shutdown is the result of a settlement agreement with New York state.  More than 40 employees from Indian Point have accepted offers to continue with Entergy in other locations.

In April of last year, Entergy announced the proposed post-shutdown sale of the subsidiaries that own Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3 to a Holtec International subsidiary. Holtec would handle decommissioning at Indian Point following regulatory approvals and the closing of the transfer from Entergy next year. It has said that part of the Indian Point site would be released for reuse in 12 to 15 years after decommissioning began. Holtec said it expected to offer employment to about 300 Indian Point employees for work on the shutdown.

Babylon the Great Tries to Stop the Nuclear Horns

America’s New Sniffer-Plane Would Track Rogue Nuclear Weapons

The U.S. Air Force is getting new reconnaissance planes equipped to detect atomic explosions.

Well, the planes themselves aren’t exactly new. In fact, they’re 1960s-vintage aerial refuelers. But they’re more modern than are the Air Force’s existing nuke-sniffing recce aircraft. And they could revitalize an important mission as the world races to rearm with new atomic weapons.

The three WC-135Rs, based on the airframes of three former U.S. Air National Guard KC-135R tankers, are slated to replace two WC-135C/Ws that fly from Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

The $220-million conversion effort should be complete by 2022.

The WC-135s are “bug-catchers,” to borrow Air Force slang. They carry air filters connected to sensors that can detect the radioactive particles that result from nuclear blasts. The WC-135s complement seismic sensors and other methods that help the U.S. government to track atomic tests.

The WC-135C/Ws entered service starting in 1965, replacing 1950s-vintage WB-50s. The current WC-135s are powered by older J57 engines, while the newer WC-135Rs sport CFM56 engines that are cleaner, more efficient and more powerful than are the J57s.

The WC-135Rs also will feature modern cockpits and better communications and navigation gear compared to the WC-135C/Ws. Despite their basic airframes dating back to the 1960s, the WC-135Rs are structurally sound and could continue flying for decades.

They might stay busy.

Various nuclear-test-ban treaties bar member countries such as the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China from conducting above-ground tests. But underground tests still are legal and, in any event, “rogue” states such as North Korea have not signed on to the test-ban treaties.

When North Korea in 2006 conducted its first-ever atomic test, an underground blast equivalent to roughly one kiloton of high-explosive, a WC-135 flying from Japan quickly detected radioactive dust from the test.

WC-135s since have been regular visitors to the Korean Peninsula as North Korea continues to build up its nuclear arsenal.

The Air Force’s effort to replace the older WC-135s surely is a welcome initiative at Offutt Air Force Base, which operates many of the flying branch’s oldest but most important reconnaissance aircraft.

Offutt is also awaiting replacements for its two aging OC-135s, which fly photographic inspection missions over Russia in order to verify compliance with arms-control treaties. Those missions take place under the auspices of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty.

The Air Force has secured funding for new Open Skies planes based on business jets. But the administration of Pres. Donald Trump has signalled it might cancel Open Skies, based on the administration’s false belief that the treaty allows Russia to spy on the United States.

The Pentagon has declined to cut a contract for the new Open Skies planes until Trump decides whether to pull out of the treaty.

David Axe is defense editor at The National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels War Fix, War Is Boring and Machete Squad.

The Iran Nuclear Horn is Now a Legitimate Threat

Iran’s Space Threat is the Problem

One can expect Iran to launch many more satellites into orbit over the next year or so to complete the constellation it is developing. At that point, both North Korea and Iran would have the capability to threaten the technological American military with certain defeat.

Brandon J. WeichertApril 27, 2020

Greatness Agenda

The Trump Administration has issued an edict to the U.S. Navy: sink any Iranian vessel that harasses U.S. warships operating near Iran. The last two American presidents had to deal with Iranian brinkmanship at sea. Yet, never before has the White House given such an explicit order.

What changed?

First, the coronavirus pandemic not only has crippled the United States, it also has eviscerated the leadership of Iran, which already was grappling with an economic decline caused by the sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration for its wanton pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Second, as the global price of oil collapses, Iran’s economy is suffering even more than it already was (oil is a key commodity for Iran). This creates a negative feedback loop, making Iranian aggression more likely in the region.

Third, Iranian aggression against American forces in the region not only is on the rise, but Iran passed a major milestone recently: the country has placed its first indigenously produced satellite into orbit. Many believe that the satellite launch was merely cover for the testing of an Iranian ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear payload over any target in the world.

This is certainly a possibility.

But there’s something more to this launch that has American strategists concerned beyond the expected concern over Iran progressing in the critical domain of reliable ballistic missile capabilities.

More Than a Nuclear Threat

Iranian space capabilities pose two additional threats for the United States and its allies: First, Iran can now place surveillance and communications satellites in orbit that will give Iranian forces operating on the ground, at sea, and in the air greater situational awareness. As Tehran aggressively pursues its grand strategy of regional hegemony, such capabilities will be key, particularly as Iran faces advanced foes in the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel—all of which have access to space capabilities that Iran has otherwise lacked.

Second, there is the added threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons. The threat of EMP to undefended US systems, such as radios and early warning radar, was first discovered during a US military high-altitude nuclear weapons test over the Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean in 1962. An EMP blast is a non-lethal and devastating way to cripple the electronics of a rival. Most American electronic systems, civilian and military alike, are undefended against EMP attack. While the Ayatollah of Iran has long argued against using nuclear weapons in a first strike against Iranian adversaries, he has condoned the creation and use of EMP weapons as “Sharia approved” bombs. In 2010, for example, Iran’s military doctrine was updated to include the use of EMP weapons against the Americans and their allies should conflict between the West and Iran erupt.

American foes have determined that our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness. On our own, the United States (and its allies, like Israel) are high-tech powers whose militaries are unstoppable. We proved this in Desert Storm. This is why American rivals from China to Russia to Iran and North Korea have embraced asymmetrical warfare methods as a way of undermining America’s otherwise overwhelming military dominance. By effectively “turning off” the power on the U.S. military and its allies, in the way an EMP would do, Iran suddenly would be facing an American force that is disjointed, disabled, and demoralized. And since the fighting would be closer to Iranian territory, suddenly the Iranian forces would enjoy significant advantages.

The EMP Threat

Last year, I cautioned about the possibility that North Korea may have spent the last decade seeding Earth orbit with EMP bombs in anticipation of holding the world hostage. We know that Iran and North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs are aligned closely—and EMP capability is an outgrowth of those programs—so Iran, like North Korea before it, may have just weaponized space. One can expect Iran to launch many more satellites into orbit over the next year or so to complete the constellation it is developing. At that point, both North Korea and Iran would have the capability to threaten the American military with certain technological defeat.

The fact that Iran has named their first satellite, “Noor,” (meaning “Light” in Farsi) should concern us. North Korea named their satellite constellation “Brilliant Star.” While these might be fanciful names for satellites, they could also be indicative of a dark sense of humor among our foes.

Even if the Iranian satellite is not an EMP weapon, the capabilities it and similar systems will be able to provide Iran’s growing military threat in the region is a game-changer. I believe that Iran’s space threat, more than any other part of Iran’s ongoing threat to the United States and its allies, is why the White House has issued its shoot-to-kill orders for any Iranian boat so much as looking at a U.S. Navy ship the wrong way.

As the coronavirus pandemic destabilizes the world system, American rivals—China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela—are all looking to test America’s ailing deterrence. The Trump Administration’s change in U.S. Navy rules of engagement is meant to dissuade Tehran from being bolder than they’ve already been. Above all, it is a recognition of the dangers associated with Iranian forays into technological systems that might initiate an EMP attack on U.S. satellite constellations or, heaven forbid, the American homeland.

Russia Chastises Babylon the Great

Russia slams US arguments for low-yield nuclear weapons

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV | Associated Press | Published: April 29, 2020

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday rejected U.S. arguments for fielding low-yield nuclear warheads, warning that an attempt to use such weapons against Russia would trigger an all-out nuclear retaliation.

The U.S. State Department argued in a paper released last week that fitting the low-yield nuclear warheads to submarine-launched ballistic missiles would help counter potential new threats from Russia and China. It charged that Moscow in particular was pondering the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons as a way of coercion in a limited conflict — an assertion that Russia has repeatedly denied.

The State Department noted that the new supplemental warhead “reduces the risk of nuclear war by reinforcing extended deterrence and assurance.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry sees it otherwise.

The ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, commented on the State Department’s paper at a briefing on Wednesday, emphasizing that the U.S. shouldn’t view its new low-yield warheads as a flexible tool that could help avert an all-out nuclear conflict with Russia.

“Any attack involving a U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), regardless of its weapon specifications, would be perceived as a nuclear aggression,” Zakharova said. “Those who like to theorize about the flexibility of American nuclear potential must understand that in line with the Russian military doctrine such actions are seen as warranting retaliatory use of nuclear weapons by Russia.”

Zakharova cast the U.S. deployment of low-yield warheads as a destabilizing move that would result in “lowering the nuclear threshold.”

U.S.-Russian differences on nuclear arms issues come as relations between Moscow and Washington are at post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis and the accusations of Russian meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

Last year, both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The only U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreement still standing is the New START treaty, which was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The pact limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify the compliance.

Russia has offered to extend the New START that expires in February 2021, while the Trump administration has pushed for a new arms control pact that would also include China. Moscow has described that idea as unfeasible, pointing at Beijing’s refusal to negotiate any deal that would reduce its much smaller nuclear arsenal.

In a statement Wednesday marking the 10th anniversary of signing the New START, the Russian Foreign Ministry hailed the treaty as an instrument that helps ensure predictability in the nuclear sphere and reaffirmed Moscow’s offer to extend it without any preconditions.

Babylon the Great Takes no Responsibility for the Rising Iranian Horn

The Trump Administration Is Suddenly Pretending That It Didn’t Blow Up the Iran Nuclear Deal

“Psych,” Mike Pompeo did not say, but could have. (Above, Pompeo after testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill on Feb. 28.)

Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

While everyone is riveted to the deadly grind of COVID-19, the Trump administration is stepping up its efforts to crush the Islamic Republic of Iran through one of the most squirrely legal arguments that a nation-state has ever devised.

The move is also a political shot in the foot, because it amounts to an unwitting admission that President Donald Trump was wrong to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Signed in 2015 by then­-President Barack Obama and the leaders of five other nations, the deal—which was codified as a U.N. Security Council resolution—required Iran to dismantle nearly all of its nuclear program; in exchange, the signatories and the U.N. would lift most of their sanctions against Iran, as well as normalize business relations with the country.

Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018, not because Iran was cheating—in fact, international inspectors affirmed in their regular reports that Iran was abiding by the deal’s terms—but rather because Trump simply didn’t like it: didn’t like anything to do with Iran, didn’t like anything accomplished by Obama.

With the withdrawal, Trump reimposed sanctions against Iran, then threatened to impose new sanctions on countries that did business with Iran—and those countries, which were dependent on transactions with the U.S.-controlled financial system, reluctantly obeyed.

This was part of Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy, which he was sure would cause the mullahs of Tehran to cave in—either to negotiate a deal more to his liking or (the real aim) to implode as a regime. However, the mullahs are still here. In fact, the failure of the nuclear deal has strengthened the hands of the regime’s most hard-line factions.

So Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stepped up the pressure, and in a way that has made observers around the world drop their jaws or scratch their heads.

According to the New York Times, Pompeo is making a legal argument that the United States is still a “participant” in the Iran nuclear deal. As such, he is saying, Trump will soon invoke a clause in the deal, known as the “snapback clause,” which requires the U.N. Security Council to reimpose economic sanctions if Iran is found to be cheating. Since, by its own admission, Iran has violated some aspects of the deal in recent months, the sanctions will automatically be reimposed once Trump raises the transgressions.

Pompeo’s argument is bogus on several counts. First, given Trump’s formal withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, it is preposterous to claim that the United States is still a participant. Or, if Trump wants to claim he is a participant, he first has to lift the sanctions he reimposed two years ago. He can’t embrace one part of an accord while rejecting all the other parts.

Second, since last summer, Iran has amassed a somewhat larger nuclear stockpile and enriched more uranium than the deal allows, but it did so in response to Trump’s withdrawal from the deal and his success at pressuring other signatories to restore sanctions. Ironically, Iran’s move was fully consistent with the terms of the nuclear deal—specifically with Paragraph 36, which states that if one signatory believes that the others “were not meeting their commitments,” then, after certain meetings and consultations, it would have “grounds to cease performing its commitments.” (Iranian diplomats tried to dissuade the European signatories from restoring sanctions for a full year before expanding its nuclear program.) In other words, technically, Iran is still acting under the terms of the deal. Its diplomats say that, if the U.S. and the other nations lifted the sanctions once again, Iran would scale back its stockpile and enrichment.

Third, Trump was in violation of the deal even before he withdrew from it. Back in July 2017, at his first G-20 summit, he pressured allied leaders to stop doing business with Iran. This pressure contravened Paragraph 29 of the accord, which states that the U.S. and the other signatories “will refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran inconsistent with the commitments not to undermine the successful implementation” of the deal.

Still, none of this means Pompeo will let the matter drop or that other nations won’t let him get away with such a duplicitous move. If the United States declares itself a participant in the Iran nuclear deal and invokes the snapback clause—and if the country chairing the Security Council at the time bangs the gavel in assent—then, under the terms of that clause, the deed will be done; there will be no vote, much less an opening for a veto.

“This would create something like a constitutional crisis at the Security Council,” says Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute and author of Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy. Parsi also predicts that, if this happens, not only will the Iranians give up hoping for a return to the nuclear deal, they will probably also withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. “This is what Trump and Pompeo want,” Parsi told me in a phone conversation. “They want a legal foundation for regime change or war.”

Meanwhile, owing to administrative incompetence, political repression, and a woeful lack of resources, nearly 100,000 cases of the coronavirus—resulting in more than 5,800 deaths—have been reported in Iran. Stiffened sanctions will only worsen the country’s plight, which Pompeo no doubt regards as an enhanced measure in his “maximum pressure” campaign. That will push the regime over the edge, he may be thinking. Maybe so; probably not. Either way, it will kill a lot more Iranians, and Trump and Pompeo don’t seem to care. If there is regime change, that pretty much ensures the new regime won’t be any less suspicious toward America than the current one. It will possibly be more hostile still.

Israel Arrests Hamas-Linked Cell Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel Arrests Hamas-Linked Cell in Bomb Plots

Ahmad Sajdaya from the West Bank’s Qalandiya refugee camp has a history of building explosive devices for terrorist attacks. Years ago, he reportedly lost part of his hand in a bomb-making accident. But that gruesome accident did not stop the Palestinian, now 27, from planning to kill Israelis.

Israeli authorities arrested Sajdaya last month along with two other Palestinians suspected of plotting major terrorist attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem on behalf of Hamas.

The suspects, males in their mid-20s, initially planned to set off a bomb in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium soccer arena, according to a statement last Wednesday from the Shin Bet — Israel’s domestic security service. One of the cell members, Umar Eid, had an Israeli identity card — which allowed him to enter Jerusalem from the West Bank to attend a soccer game at Teddy Stadium on a reconnaissance mission last year.

The men conducted surveillance and other preparatory measures but ultimately scrapped the original plan after assessing that the stadium was too heavily protected.

The cell relied on online bomb-making instructions and bought ingredients required for building explosive devices, including chemicals, nails and other metallic parts to maximize casualties. Eventually, the terror cell shifted its focus on planning bombing attacks targeting Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and several other sites around Ramallah.

Counterterrorism measures that harden a specific target, or make it more difficult for terrorists to strike, often lead motivated terrorists to shift targets. The terrorist cell decided to strike Israeli military personnel directly, given higher levels of security around popular civilian sites like Teddy Stadium.

The suspects originally met as student members of the Hamas-affiliated Kutla Islamiya group in the West Bank’s Birzeit University and were involved in several other attempted bombings in the past. Rahman Hamdan, a Ramallah-based Kutlah Islamiyah official, allegedly helped finance the terror cell and facilitated direct contact with Hamas.

Last year, Israel foiled another cell directly tied to the Hamas student association and discovered a fully-built bomb in the process. Gaza-based Hamas figures seek out talented students who are motivated and capable of building bombs. The terrorist organization also instructs its recruits to mobilize other students and young Palestinians to form cells in the West Bank.

The latest arrests highlight the dangers of Hamas’ West Bank terrorist infrastructure, among educational institutions and beyond. Over the years, Israel has foiled numerous deadly Hamas-directed attacks, including kidnapping attempts in the West Bank and within Israel.

In December, the Shin Bet revealed that Israel foiled more than 450 major terrorist attacks targeting Israel throughout 2019. Israeli authorities reportedly thwarted 500 attacks the year before.

Israeli authorities disrupted another elaborate Hamas plot in 2017. According to the subsequent indictment, Hamas officials in Gaza sent instructions to a three-man terrorist cell via Facebook, explaining how to carry out shooting attacks, detonate explosives, and coordinate kidnappings around Hebron.

That cell also scouted several locations within Israel for future attacks, including a bus station in Afula, a military base, the Binyamina Train Station, and a synagogue.

The terrorists involved in that plot gained important information about the targets while working in Israel illegally.

Terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State, Hezbollah and Hamas continue to use social media outlets to direct or encourage cells in other theatres to attack their enemies.

Beyond Israel’s vast network of informants and human intelligence capabilities, Israeli intelligence has developed social media analytic programs to detect and anticipate potential terrorist incidents.

However, these cases, including the Teddy Stadium bomb plot, illustrate the major threat posed by terrorist operatives who can infiltrate into Israel either illegally or with genuine Israeli identity cards.

The latest developments show that Hamas remains committed to expanding and consolidating its terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian territory in an effort to destabilize the Palestinian Authority and infiltrate Israel for attacks.

Steven Emerson is executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. He was a correspondent for CNN and a senior editor at U.S. News and World Report. Read Steven Emerson’s Reports — More Here.

The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


Living on the Fault Line

A major earthquake isn’t likely here, but if it comes, watch out.

Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo

This chart shows the location of the Ramapo Fault System, the longest and one of the oldest systems of cracks in the earth’s crust in the Northeast. It also shows the location of all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in New Jersey during the last 50 years. The circle in blue indicates the largest known Jersey quake.

The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.

After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.

Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.

During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.

“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”

Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.

Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.

After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.

But no area on the East Coast is as densely populated or as heavily built-up as parts of New Jersey and its neighbors. For this reason, scientists refer to the Greater New York City-Philadelphia area, which includes New Jersey’s biggest cities, as one of “low earthquake hazard but high vulnerability.” Put simply, the Big One isn’t likely here—but if it comes, especially in certain locations, watch out.

Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.

Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.

The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.

For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.

Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”

The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.

The Ramapo Fault sits on the North American Plate, which extends past the East Coast to the middle of the Atlantic, where it meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater mountain range in constant flux. The consequences of this intraplate setting are huge: First, as Gates points out, “The predictability of bigger earthquakes on…[such] settings is exceedingly poor, because they don’t occur very often.” Second, the intraplate setting makes it more difficult to link our earthquakes to a major cause or fault, as monitors in California can often do.

This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”

Gates does not think that’s the case, and he has been working with colleagues for a number of years to prove it. “What we have found is that there are smaller faults that generally cut from east to west across the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault,” he explains. “These much smaller faults are all over the place, and they’re actually the ones that are the active faults in the area.”

But what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of these apparently active auxiliary faults? One such mechanism, say scientists, is the westward pressure the Atlantic Ocean exerts on the North American Plate, which for the most part resists any movement. “I think we are in an equilibrium state most of the time,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim.

Still, that continuous pressure on the plate we sit on causes stress, and when that stress builds up sufficiently, the earth’s crust has a tendency to break around any weak zones. In our area, the major weak zone is the Ramapo Fault—“an ancient zone of weakness,” as Kim calls it. That zone of weakness exacerbates the formation of auxiliary faults, and thereby the series of minor earthquakes the state has experienced over the years.

All this presupposes, of course, that any intraplate stress in this area will continue to be released gradually, in a series of relatively minor earthquakes or releases of energy. But what if that were not the case? What if the stress continued to build up, and the release of large amounts of energy came all at once? In crude terms, that’s part of the story behind the giant earthquakes that rocked what is now New Madrid, Missouri, between 1811 and 1812. Although estimates of their magnitude have been revised downward in recent years to less than magnitude 8, these earthquakes are generally regarded as among the largest intraplate events to have occurred in the continental United States.

For a number of reasons—including the relatively low odds that the kind of stored energy that unleashed the New Madrid events could ever build up here—earthquakes of plus-6 magnitude are probably not in our future. Still, says Kim, even a magnitude 6 earthquake in certain areas of the state could do considerable damage, especially if its intensity or ground shaking was of sufficient strength. In a state as geologically diverse and densely populated as New Jersey, this is a crucial wild card.

Part of the job of the experts at the New Jersey Geological Survey is to assess the seismic hazards in different parts of the state. To do this, they use a computer-simulation model developed under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as HAZUS, for Hazards US. To assess the amount of ground shaking likely to occur in a given county during events ranging in magnitude from 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, NJGS scientists enter three features of a county’s surface geology into their computer model. Two of these features relate to the tendency of soil in a given area to lose strength, liquefy, or slide downhill when shaken. The third and most crucial feature has to do with the depth and density of the soil itself and the type of bedrock lying below it; this is a key component in determining a region’s susceptibility to ground shaking and, therefore, in estimating the  amount of building and structural damage that’s likely to occur in that region. Estimates for the various counties—nine to date have been studied—are sent to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which provided partial funding for the project.

To appreciate why this element of ground geology is so crucial to earthquake modelers, consider the following: An earthquake’s intensity—which is measured on something called the Modified Mercalli Scale—is related to a number of factors. The amount of energy released or the magnitude of an event is clearly a big factor. But two earthquakes of the same magnitude can have very different levels of intensity; in fact, it’s quite possible for a lower magnitude event to generate more ground shaking than a higher magnitude one.

In addition to magnitude, other factors that affect intensity are the distance of the observer or structure from the epicenter, where intensity is the greatest; the depth beneath the surface of the initial  rupture, with shallower ruptures producing more ground shaking than deeper ones; and, most significantly, the ground geology or material that the shock wave generated by the earthquake must pass through.

As a rule, softer materials like sand and gravel shake much more intensely than harder materials, because the softer materials are comparatively inefficient energy conductors, so whatever energy is released by the quake tends to be trapped, dispersing much more slowly. (Think of a bowl of Jell-O on a table that’s shaking.)

In contrast, harder materials, like the solid rock found widely in the Highlands, are brittle and break under pressure, but conduct energy well, so that even big shock waves disperse much more rapidly through them, thereby weakening the amount of ground shaking. “If you’ve read any stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, you know the most intense damage was in those flat, low areas by the Bay, where the soil is soft, and not in the hilly, rocky areas above,” says Karl Muessig, state geologist and NJGS head.

The map that accompanies the online version of the NJGS’s Earthquake Loss Estimation Study divides the state’s surface geology into five seismic soil classes, ranging from Class A, or hard rock, to Class E, or soft soil (

Although the weakest soils are scattered throughout the state, including the Highlands, which besides harder rock also contains areas of glacial lakes, clays, and wetlands, they are most evident in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. “The largest expanses of them are in coastal areas where you have salt marshes or large glacial lakes, as in parts of the Passaic River basin,” says Scott Stanford, a research scientist with NJGS and lead author of the estimate. Some of the very weakest soils, Stanford adds, are in areas of filled marshland, including places along the Hudson waterfront, around Newark Bay and the Meadowlands, and along the Arthur Kill.

Faults in these areas—and in the coastal plain generally—are far below the ground, perhaps several hundred to a thousand feet down, making identification difficult. “There are numerous faults upon which you might get earthquake movement that we can’t see, because they’re covered by younger sediments,” Stanford says.

This combination of hidden faults and weak soils worries scientists, who are all too aware that parts of the coastal plain and Piedmont are among the most densely populated and developed areas in the state. (The HAZUS computer model also has a “built environment” component, which summarizes, among other things, types of buildings in a given area.) For this reason, such areas would be in the most jeopardy in the event of a large earthquake.

“Any vulnerable structure on these weak soils would have a higher failure hazard,” Stanford says. And the scary truth is that many structures in New Jersey’s largest cities, not to mention New York City, would be vulnerable, since they’re older and built before anyone gave much thought to earthquake-related engineering and construction codes.

For example, in the study’s loss estimate for Essex County, which includes Newark, the state’s largest city, a magnitude 6 event would result in damage to 81,600 buildings, including almost 10,000 extensively or completely; 36,000 people either displaced from their homes or forced to seek short-term shelter; almost $9 million in economic losses from property damage and business interruption; and close to 3,300 injuries and 50 fatalities. (The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation has conducted a similar assessment for New York City, at

All of this suggests the central irony of New Jersey geology: The upland areas that are most prone to earthquakes—the counties in or around the Ramapo Fault, which has spawned a network of splays, or  auxiliary faults—are much less densely populated and sit, for the most part, on good bedrock. These areas are not invulnerable, certainly, but, by almost all measures, they would not sustain very severe damage, even in the event of a higher magnitude earthquake. The same can’t be said for other parts of the state, where the earthquake hazard is lower but the vulnerability far greater. Here, the best we can do is to prepare—both in terms of better building codes and a constantly improving emergency response.

Meanwhile, scientists like Rutgers’s Gates struggle to understand the Earth’s quirky seismic timetable: “The big thing with earthquakes is that you can commonly predict where they are going to occur,” Gates says. “When they’re going to come, well, we’re nowhere near being able to figure that out.”


Planning for the Big One

For the men and women of the state police who manage and support the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the response to some events, like hurricanes, can be marshalled in advance. But an earthquake is what responders call a no-notice event.

In New Jersey, even minor earthquakes—like the one that shook parts of Somerset County in February—attract the notice of local, county, and OEM officials, who continuously monitor events around the state from their Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (The ROIC) in West Trenton, a multimillion dollar command-and-control facility that has been built to withstand 125 mph winds and a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. In the event of a very large earthquake, during which local and county resources are apt to become quickly overwhelmed, command and control authority would almost instantly pass to West Trenton.

Here, officials from the state police, representatives of a galaxy of other state agencies, and a variety of communications and other experts would assemble in the cavernous and ultra-high tech Emergency Operations Center to oversee the state’s response. “A high-level earthquake would definitely cause the governor to declare a state of emergency,” says OEM public information officer Nicholas J. Morici. “And once that takes place, our emergency operations plan would be put in motion.”

Emergency officials have modeled that plan—one that can be adapted to any no-notice event, including a terrorist attack—on response methodologies developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At its core is a series of seventeen emergency support functions, ranging from transportation to firefighting, debris removal, search and rescue, public health, and medical services. A high-magnitude event would likely activate all of these functions, says Morici, along with the human and physical resources needed to carry them out—cranes and heavy trucks for debris removal, fire trucks and teams for firefighting, doctors and EMTs for medical services, buses and personnel carriers for transportation, and so on.

This is where an expert like Tom Rafferty comes in. Rafferty is a Geographic Information Systems Specialist attached to the OEM. His job during an emergency is to keep track electronically of which resources are where in the state, so they can be deployed quickly to where they are needed. “We have a massive database called the Resource Directory Database in which we have geolocated municipal, county, and state assets to a very detailed map of New Jersey,” Rafferty says. “That way, if there is an emergency like an earthquake going on in one area, the emergency managers can quickly say to me, for instance, ‘We have major debris and damage on this spot of the map. Show us the location of the nearest heavy hauler. Show us the next closest location,’ and so on.”

A very large quake, Rafferty says, “could overwhelm resources that we have as a state.” In that event, OEM has the authority to reach out to FEMA for additional resources and assistance. It can also call upon the private sector—the Resource Directory has been expanded to include non-government assets—and to a network of volunteers. “No one has ever said, ‘We don’t want to help,’” Rafferty says. New Jersey officials can also request assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement among the states to help each other in times of extreme crisis.

“You always plan for the worst,” Rafferty says, “and that way when the worst doesn’t happen, you feel you can handle it if and when it does.”

Contributing editor Wayne J. Guglielmo lives in Mahwah, near the Ramapo Fault.

Kashmir: the Flashpoint for the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

Tensions Rise in Kashmir – The Owl

Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint as India has endangered immediate neighbourhood: Pak Army Chief

Islamabad, April 28 (KMS): The Balakot airstrike and the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir are the two significant events that will have a “lasting imprint” on the geopolitical situation of South Asia, said Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

In an article in the ‘Green Book 2020’, a research journal of the Pakistan Army which is recognised by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan and published biennially, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa also describes Kashmir as a “nuclear flashpoint”.
General Bajwa being the Patron-in-Chief of the journal expressed his view in a “Note” at the first page of the publication.
“Year 2019 witnessed two significant events which will have lasting imprint on the geopolitics of this region; first, the unwarranted Balakot Strike by Indian Air Force on 26th February and second, the unilateral annexation of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, through abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, “the Pakistan Army chief said.
“Former was a coercive attempt to carve out space for war under nuclear overhang and enforce compellence; adroitly denied by Pakistan Air Force the very next day, through a calibrated and proportionate response – Indian craving for establishing a New Normal was stymied comprehensively.
“The latter, despite condemnation by the World at large, continues to haunt the lives of over eight million Muslims” of Kashmir…” he wrote.
General Bajwa goes on to say: “Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint and in total disregard to international norms, Mr (Narendra) Modi has not only endangered the immediate neighbourhood, but has also raised the ante for the entire World.”
In the ‘Green Book 2020’ editorial, Editor-in-Chief Lt Gen Sher Afgan made a case for the changing global order due to the impact of the latest technologies and revolutions in the military and strategic thoughts.
“New players like China & Russia are pushing the US led International Liberal Order towards an era of more multipolar power centres. Regionalism is gaining currency, Populism sentiment is high and traditional power centres are grappling to remain atop,” he wrote.
He said that South Asia, due to its strategic location and role in world politics, is also under a great impact of this rapid transformation in the geo-politics and geo-economics and Pakistan armed forces had superbly tackled through cross-domain responses.
Former diplomat Shamshad Ahmad Khan in his article, ‘India-Pakistan Relations: In Perspective’, wrote that Pakistan has been living with a lingering suspicion that India had never reconciled to the sub-continent’s partition and facing India’s hostility and belligerence.
He said that as one of the oldest unresolved international conflicts, Kashmir is today “a nuclear flashpoint.”Islamabad, April 28 (KMS): The Balakot airstrike and the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir are the two significant events that will have a “lasting imprint” on the geopolitical situation of South Asia, said Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
In an article in the ‘Green Book 2020’, a research journal of the Pakistan Army which is recognised by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan and published biennially, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa also describes Kashmir as a “nuclear flashpoint”.
General Bajwa being the Patron-in-Chief of the journal expressed his view in a “Note” at the first page of the publication.
“Year 2019 witnessed two significant events which will have lasting imprint on the geopolitics of this region; first, the unwarranted Balakot Strike by Indian Air Force on 26th February and second, the unilateral annexation of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, through abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, “the Pakistan Army chief said.
“Former was a coercive attempt to carve out space for war under nuclear overhang and enforce compellence; adroitly denied by Pakistan Air Force the very next day, through a calibrated and proportionate response – Indian craving for establishing a New Normal was stymied comprehensively.
“The latter, despite condemnation by the World at large, continues to haunt the lives of over eight million Muslims” of Kashmir…” he wrote.
General Bajwa goes on to say: “Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint and in total disregard to international norms,Mr (Narendra) Modi has not only endangered the immediate neighbourhood, but has also raised the ante for the entire World.”
In the ‘Green Book 2020’ editorial, Editor-in-Chief Lt Gen Sher Afgan made a case for the changing global order due to the impact of the latest technologies and revolutions in the military and strategic thoughts.
“New players like China & Russia are pushing the US led International Liberal Order towards an era of more multipolar power centres. Regionalism is gaining currency, Populism sentiment is high and traditional power centres are grappling to remain atop,” he wrote.
He said that South Asia, due to its strategic location and role in world politics, is also under a great impact of this rapid transformation in the geo-politics and geo-economics and Pakistan armed forces had superbly tackled through cross-domain responses.
Former diplomat Shamshad Ahmad Khan in his article, ‘India-Pakistan Relations: In Perspective’, wrote that Pakistan has been living with a lingering suspicion that India had never reconciled to the sub-continent’s partition and facing India’s hostility and belligerence.
He said that as one of the oldest unresolved international conflicts, Kashmir is today “a nuclear flashpoint.”

Unit 2 Shuts Down Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Indian Point Unit 2 Will Shut Down April 30

One of the two remaining operating reactors at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York, will close for good on April 30, shutting down early as part of an agreement between Entergy, the plant’s operator, the state of New York, and environmental groups who had pressured officials to close the plant.

The 1,020-MW Unit 2 will close Thursday, leaving the 1,040-MW Unit 3 as the plant’s lone operating unit. Unit 3 is scheduled to close in April 2021 as part of the agreement, a deal reached in January 2017. The closure will mark the end of Entergy’s time as a participant in the merchant power business.

At the time of the 2017 agreement, Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, said, “Key considerations in our decision to shut down Indian Point ahead of schedule include sustained low current and projected wholesale energy prices that have reduced revenues, as well as increased operating costs. In addition, we foresee continuing costs for license renewal beyond the more than $200 million and 10 years we have already invested.”

Not all environmental groups want Indian Point to close. The U.S.-based Climate Coalition in a letter delivered last week to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked the governor to suspend the closure of the plant. The group, which includes climate scientists, environmental groups, climate and clean energy advocates, and others, said in the letter that closing the plant will make the state more vulnerable to power disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state urged Cuomo “to stop this poorly-timed closure and keep New York City’s 2-gigawatt, zero-emission, zero-air pollutant clean energy generation facility operational. Postponing the shutdown of Indian Point and preventing a surge of new, toxic fossil fuel pollutants from spewing into the air while people are perishing from respiratory failure, is probably the most critical, preventative thing you can do to ease suffering and additional deaths.”

Indian Point, located 24 miles from New York City, originally began commercial operation in 1962, with a single, 257-MW reactor; that Unit 1 was retired in 1974. Units 2 and 3 came online in 1974 and 1976, respectively.

Entergy purchased Unit 3 in 2000 from the New York Power Authority, and Unit 2—along with the permanently closed Unit 1—in 2001 from Consolidated Edison.

Plant Set for Decommissioning

Entergy in April 2019 said it would sell Indian Point to Comprehensive Decommissioning International, a Camden, N.J.-based jointly owned subsidiary of Holtec International, a company buying nuclear plants that are closed or scheduled for retirement. Holtec will take possession after the shutdown of Unit 3.

Holtec has proposed decommissioning and demolishing the facility by year-end 2033, at a projected cost of $2.3 billion. The company already has submitted a decommissioning report, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said it put aside while the agency reviews the plant’s application to transfer the ownership license. Bruce Watson, chief of the Reactor Decommissioning Branch in the Division of Decommissioning Uranium Recovery and Waste Programs in the Office of Nuclear Materials Safety and Safeguards at the NRC, said a financial and technical review of Holtec’s capabilities will be done as the NRC reviews the application.

“We are evaluating Holtec’s technical and financial qualifications to decommission Indian Point,” said Watson in a media briefing April 21. “Such reviews typically take on the order of about a year; however, our review could be completed later this year.”

Richard Chang, a project manager in Watson’s office, at the briefing said Holtec’s plan calls for all spent fuel from Units 2 and 3 to be moved into dry cask storage as of early 2024. The spent fuel from Unit 1 already is in dry cask storage. Holtec expects to complete demolition of all three units at Indian Point by 2032, with site restoration expected to by the end of 2033.

“With respect to estimated costs, Holtec’s plan anticipates the cost of decommissioning Unit 1 as $598  million; Unit 2 as $702 million; and Unit three as over $1 billion, for a total of roughly $2.3 billion. Please note that these amounts include site restoration costs, which the NRC does not oversee. Our focus is on the radiological cleanup of the site,” said Chang. “As of the end of 2018, the decommissioning trust fund for Indian Point Unit 1 held $471 million; Indian Point 2 contained $598 million; and there was $780 million set aside for Indian Point Unit 3. The funds at that time added up to more than $1.85 billion.”

Groups Cite Problems at Plant

Environmental groups pressed for the plant’s closure citing Indian Point’s history of operational, safety, and environmental problems, which included a 2015 transformer fire that sent thousands of gallons of oil into the Hudson River. The groups also cited radioactive releases into groundwater and said the plant had inadequate disaster planning.

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which oversees the state’s electric grid, last year said retiring Indian Point would not impact the reliability of the region’s power supply. NYISO said annual electricity demand in New York State has declined for more than a decade, and will remain essentially flat over the next 10 years. New York officials, including members of the state Public Service Commission (PSC), had looked at closing Indian Point even before the 2017 closure agreement, citing clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives that continue to grow the state’s use of renewable resources for power generation.

Those initiatives include 1.3 GW of demand response (DR) resources (programs that compensate customers for agreeing to cut their electricity use when called upon during high use periods) in place to cut electric power on peak summer days, along with additional capacity from retail DR programs approved by the PSC that are operated by Consolidated Edison and other utilities.

The state’s NY-Sun solar power program, launched in 2013, continues to ramp up solar projects on homes and businesses across the state. The state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), signed into law last year, mandates the installation of at least 6 GW of solar power in the state by 2025, along with 9 GW of offshore wind power by 2035.

Officials also have said the 1-GW TDI Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission project, which has been fully approved and permitted to bring hydropower from Quebec, Canada, to New York City, is likely to replace some of the generation lost from Indian Point’s closure.

Workers losing jobs due to the closure of Indian Point—the plant employed as many as 1,000 workers in recent years—could be helped by New York’s Cessation Mitigation Fund, created in 2015 to provide community support related to power plant shutdowns.

—Darrell Proctor is associate editor for POWER (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).