The inspiration for the Indian Point Heritage Project was multifaceted. The idea to centralize oral history came from Dr. Conrad’s doctoral research into the concrete aggregate industry of Long Island and the Hudson Valley. While researching, he found a collection of oral history interviews of aggregate workers that labored during the 1930s to the 1970s. These priceless recordings are now our only vantage points into the work and life of aggregate workers. Many companies failed to preserve written records. Those documents that were preserved tended to highlight management decisions and labor relations to the detriment of actual workforce knowledge. Recreating a similar oral history archive for the nuclear power industry, especially at the soon to be decommissioned Indian Point, has taken on new urgency as the workforce approaches retirement or navigates into other industries.
Thoroughly researching the nuclear power industry in the summer of 2019, Dr. Conrad was surprised by how little work examined the skill and expertise of the nuclear power plant worker. The defense applications of nuclear weapons took the forefront of most studies. For civilian application of nuclear energy, the battle between pro and anti-nuclear constituencies buried the objective realities of how civilians even operated and maintained a nuclear power plant. The Indian Point Heritage Project aims to correct those research imbalances by centralizing the worker. It is hoped that this will provide a more accurate view of the industry while providing a vital community hub for historic preservation.
The project would be impossible without the funding and support of Entergy. With the 2021 closure of the Indian Point Energy Center, Entergy hopes to leave a community legacy project to honor the workforce. Although the site will be decommissioned, Entergy believes that the Indian Point Heritage Project will be an inspiration for employees to continue to provide archival sources long after Unit 2 and 3 cease operation.
The structure and operations of the Indian Point Heritage Project are inspired from The John Tyndall Correspondence Project which Dr. Conrad had the pleasure of working on as a research assistant from 2009-2010.