Photos courtesy of Brian Vangor and Arcadia Publishing
A longtime mechanical engineer at the now shuttered Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan has a new book that tells the nuclear power plant’s story through photographs.
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Whether you agree with the Indian Point Energy Center’s 2021 closing or you wish it were still open, emotions run high over this hot-button issue. In a bid to shed some light on the true story of the energy center and the people who worked there, a 43-year veteran of Indian Point, mechanical engineer Brian R. Vangor, has penned a new book illuminating the history of the plant, with rare photographs and impressive snapshots.
Images of America: Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant takes readers way back to when the energy center was the unlikely site of a pleasure park. “The book is really the history of Indian Point, starting from the park in 1923 up to the closing of the plant, in May of 2021,” says Vangor. “There is nothing controversial in the book. I didn’t go into pro-nuclear versus anti-nuclear — I stayed away from all of that. I wanted to show the history of the plant; I wanted the employees to have something they could always hold on to and remember what we did here, and I wanted whoever read it from the public to realize how hard we worked here to make this plant safe.”
Vangor himself has been an avid photographer since he was 13. When he began working at Indian Point, Vangor’s colleagues took notice of his talent. “Over the years, I became the guy people [at Indian Point] came to for pictures or videos, and then I also kind of became the historian of the place,” he says. After Vangor helped Arcadia Publishing pen a text about the hamlet of Mahopac, a coauthor of the book suggested Vangor try his hand at producing something similar for Indian Point.
In March of 2022, Vangor began gathering images for the text, roughly half of which are from the Consolidated Edison Company of New York. “During construction, ConEd had two or three photographers there every day for years, taking thousands of photographs. We have albums [at the plant], but we know we only have a small percentage of them,” he says. “When the plant shut down, everyone piled all the photo albums on my desk, so I went out and bought a flatbed scanner. Anything that says ‘ConEdison’ was something we had here at the plant that I was able to scan. The other images are typically ones I have taken over the years.”
Above all, Vangor hopes the book will help people understand how earnestly Indian Point’s employees took their jobs. “Sometimes you get the impression that people think this is really a plant run unsafely, one that is just here to make money and ‘Damn the torpedoes — full speed ahead.’ But that is not the case. This plant was run very conservatively, following all the rules and laws of the NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission], and I am hoping that the book will show people how serious and how professional this business was.”