Environmental activists, experts and 1199ers joined actor Alec Baldwin the union’s Manhattan headquarters to congratulate NY Governor Andrew Cuomo on reaching an agreement to shut down the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant by 2021.

The event, organized by NY’s clean water advocates, Riverkeeper, was designed to build momentum for a safe decommissioning plan and to explore clean energy alternatives to the power currently generated by the plant.

Maria Castaneda, the Secretary-Treasurer of 1199SEIU, introduced the event, saying: “It is a great way to start the New Year, talking about the closure of a power plant that has been living on borrowed time.”

Castaneda compared the plant, located less than 30 miles up the Hudson River from New York City, to Three Mile Island, a nuclear generating station in Pennsylvania, which suffered a partial meltdown in 1979. “The closure of Indian Point will remove the risk of immense devastation in an area where 150,000 of our members live,” she added.

The decision to decommission Indian Point was the result of a hard fought campaign by union activists, Riverkeeper and community allies who came together to educate the public about its dangers and lobby elected officials, said Castaneda.

“I never dreamed we’d arrive at this point, with Indian Point being closed down,” actor Alec Baldwin told the assembled activists, “Nuclear energy isn’t a cheap form of power any longer. The price of renewables is going down all the time. On the New York State grid there is already enough power being generated, the decision to close Indian Point will have minimum impact on energy prices.”

Richard Webster, Riverkeeper Legal Program Director, said: “The top of the reactor doesn’t fit properly and the seal has failed eight times. It is a very dangerous time right now. Since the plant is closing, nobody wants to put any money in. That is one of the reasons why a plan for safe decommissioning is so important.”

Alec Baldwin added that: “As plans for the plant’s closure develop, we need to be unswervingly mindful of the people who work there and the fact that they will be losing their jobs. We need to think about re-training and assistance. We need to continue to engage with the utility workers once this thing closes and not just say we’re done.”

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