NEW YORK, April 4 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Monday that he wants a nuclear power plant near New York City closed due to safety and environmental concerns.
As the Vermont senator nears the April 19 New York Primary, he advocated shutting down the Indian Point nuclear power plant -- which leaked water contaminated with radioactive tritium into the surrounding soil earlier this year.
Numerous threatening incidents have occurred at the Indian Point facility since it opened in the mid-1970s.
"I am very concerned that the Indian Power nuclear power reactor is more than ever before a catastrophe waiting to happen," Sanders said in a statement Monday. "In my view, we cannot sit idly by and hope that the unthinkable will never happen. We must take action to shut this plant down in a safe and responsible way.
"It makes no sense to me to continue to operate a decaying nuclear reactor within 25 miles of New York City where nearly 10 million people live."
Nearly 300 delegates in New York are still available to either Sanders or Hillary Clinton, who also expressed concern about Indian Point during her time as a New York senator.
In addition to the substantial power it generates, the Indian Point facility is also an important part of the region's climate change landscape because it doesn't emit any greenhouse gases.
"Entergy has invested more than $1 billion in equipment over the last ten years to strengthen and enhance safety and security at the facility," Jerry Nappi, spokesman for Entergy, the plant's owner, said.
Indian Point is among several New York nuclear plants hoping to receive support from the state government, which has established a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent over the next 35 years.
"We have every expectation that Indian Point will be included [in the state's subsidization plans], ultimately," Entergy Vice President of External Affairs Mike Twomey said earlier this month. "It would be arbitrary and improper to exclude Indian Point -- and frankly make New York's carbon reduction goals unattainable."
"This latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable," he said.
"We need to identify whether this incident could have been avoided by exercising reasonable care. We also need to know how a recurrence of this episode can be avoided by specific steps that Entergy should be taking," Cuomo wrote in a letter to environmental and health officials, asking for an investigation.
Only one large-scale nuclear core meltdown has ever occurred in the United States, at Pennsylvania's Three-Mile Island facility in 1979.