'Indian Point': Film Review

Indian Point Still H 2016
Indian Point Film Production
An effective case study in the long debate over nuclear energy.

Protesters try to shut down the 40-plus-year-old nuclear plant near New York City.

In her first feature doc since examining the espionage case against her grandparents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (in Heir to an Execution), Ivy Meeropol looks at a still-unfolding piece of history, the battle over the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York state. An activist-friendly film which nevertheless strives for an evenhanded stance amid much controversy, Indian Point naturally investigates not just this facility, but the issue of nukes in general. As such it has long-term value to our ongoing debates over how the world gets its energy, but nothing here demands a trip to theaters before the movie arrives soon on video.

Situated just 35 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River, the plant is within 50 miles of six percent of the U.S. population. So it was already of great interest to those wary of nuclear dangers before the 2011 tragedy at Fukushima. Starting her film after that incident, Meeropol sees how it attracts extra attention to the question of whether nuclear regulators will grant a renewed 20-year license to Entergy, the company operating Indian Point.

Regulators? What regulators? In the view of skeptical activists, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has made so many concessions to energy companies it can't be trusted with our safety. But Meeropol is more sympathetic to NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko, who pushes for stronger regulations post-Fukushima and, in the film's view, is then subjected to a witch-hunt that forces his resignation and makes him unhireable. She also finds sympathy for some who work inside the plant, who seem to feel more personal responsibility for its safe operation than their corporate overlords do.

Still, the film's heart is with the muckrakers — like the husband and wife who try to avoid conflicts of interest while one reports on environmental news and the other mans picket lines in protest. Or the water-sampling do-gooders at the Hudson-centric Riverkeeper nonprofit, which hopes to shut the plant down on the basis of its impact on fish and water quality.

It has been almost three years since the operating permit for Indian Point's Unit 2 expired; Unit 3's permit expired in December. Both remain in operation — but have had to make periodic shutdowns for age-related failures — despite opposition from Governor Andrew Cuomo.


Production companies: Motto Pictures, Red 50

Distributor: First Run Features

Director-Screenwriter: Ivy Meeropol

Producers: Julie Goldman, Ivy Meeropol

Executive producers: Ruth Mutch, Anne O'Shea, Brian Quattrini

Directors of photography: Rob Featherstone, Daniel B. Gold, Brett Wiley

Editor: Steve Heffner

Composers: Nathan Halpern, Chris Ruggiero


93 minutes