[ RadSafe ] Indian Point

THOMAS POTTER pottert at starpower.net
Tue Dec 11 23:31:51 CST 2007

Here are a couple of Times articles to complement the article posted by John Jacobus regarding the opposition of the State of New York to the extension of the operating licenses for Indian Point Units 2 and 3.

The bald posturing by the State of New York officials should be obvious to all.  The State has a responsibility to protect its citizens.  If State officials really believe the plant should be shut down immediately, they should take the action necessary to do it.  To do anything less would be irresponsible.  It is true that by law only NRC can regulate for safety.  But intervention in the NRC licensing is not the only or even the best way for New York to shut down the plants.  The sure way for the State to succeed and to succeed in the most timely manner is for the State to buy the plants and shut them down.  An owner can shut down a plant for any reason he chooses.

The idea of a state owning a nuclear power plant may seem strange to some, but precedent for this can be found quite close to this case--on top of it, actually.  Bizarre as it may seem, the State of New York owned and operated Indian Point Unit 3, one of the units it now believes should be shut down immediately, until 2000, when it sold the plant for hundreds of millions of dollars.  (How responsible was that?)  The State of New York sold the plant, and it can buy the plant back.  And if it can buy one, it can buy two.  To do anything less would be irresponsible if state officials believe their own statements.  They surely don't.  Making those statements is simply a different way of being irresponsible.

Thomas E. Potter    


The New York Times
December 4, 2007
Citing Past Troubles at Indian Point, State Urges Panel to Deny License Extension 

WHITE PLAINS, Dec. 3 — Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday that the state had asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to deny an application to extend the license of the Indian Point nuclear reactors, citing “a long and troubling history of problems.” 

Mr. Cuomo, flanked by Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson and members of the Congressional delegation at a news conference, claimed that the nuclear plant, in densely populated Westchester County, could not be defended from a terrorist attack and that the surrounding area could not be evacuated if a major accident occurred. The state filed a 313-page petition on behalf of Mr. Cuomo and Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Friday. 

Most recently, opponents’ ire had been directed at the plant owner’s belated progress in meeting federal deadlines to install warning sirens around the plant, which is on the Hudson River in Buchanan.

The state also contends that the application to extend the plant’s license for 20 more years, which was filed on April 30 by the plant’s owner, Entergy Nuclear, failed to account for pipes, cables and fire-protection systems that have deteriorated at the nuclear reactors, which began operation in the mid-’70s.

“I believe Indian Point should be closed and it should be closed now,” Mr. Cuomo said at the news conference at the Westchester County administrative building.

Officials of the N.R.C. could not recall a previous occasion when a state had tried to intervene in a license-extension proceeding to block the extension. New York State owned Indian Point 3 from 1975 until 2000. 

New Jersey has intervened in the relicensing of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant, and Vermont and Massachusetts both sought conditions on the license extension of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. 

Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy, said the company had invested hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade equipment at the plant since it bought the two reactors. He said that the company was prepared to prove to federal regulators that the equipment still worked properly.

“The plant equipment can perform according to its design,” Mr. Steets said. “That is what we have to demonstrate to the N.R.C.”

In a statement on Monday, Governor Spitzer said that the Indian Point relicensing application “fails to address a number of crucial issues.” Although he did not go as far as Mr. Cuomo in calling for an immediate shutdown, Mr. Spitzer said the plant should close as soon as an alternative source of power could be found. The two reactors have a combined capacity of 2,069 megawatts. 

A three-judge panel appointed by the N.R.C. is expected to rule within the next several weeks whether New York State can intervene in the relicensing application and whether the issues it has raised should be considered. 

Entergy applied for a 20-year extension of the original 40-year licenses on April 30. The commission, which has granted about two dozen 20-year extensions around the country, has established a goal of ruling on applications within 22 months if there is no hearing, or within 30 months if there is one. 

The license for the Indian Point 2 reactor expires in 2013, and Indian Point 3’s license ends in 2015. But the licenses have been automatically extended until the commission issues its ruling. Indian Point 1 closed in 1974. 

It was not clear from the state’s filing how New York proposed to meet its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping the region’s grid supplied with energy on peak days, although opponents of the plant insist that efficient use of electricity could take up any slack should the reactors be shut down. 

But Patrick Moore, a founder and former member of the environmental activist group Greenpeace, who has been hired by the nuclear industry to promote the technology, said on Monday that there was “a logical inconsistency” in the argument being presented by opponents of the plant.

Mr. Moore said the goal of shutting Indian Point and of reducing carbon emissions were “mutually exclusive” in a time of concern over global warming. He added that if the reactors were shut, the logical substitute would be two new ones.

Mr. Cuomo said at the news conference that claims of power shortages should the plant be shut were “scare tactics,” and he cited studies that have shown there would be sufficient power to meet the area’s needs without Indian Point. He also said that the plant has been shut for refueling and repairs for extended periods and that the power grid has not suffered.

“If the plant closes, we can replace the power,” he said.

The two nuclear reactors in Westchester County — which have attracted much opposition since the accident at the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania in March 1979 and the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 — are surrounded by 20 million people within a 50-mile radius, more than any other reactor in the country.

American Airlines Flight 11, which struck the north tower of the World Trade Center, flew south along the Hudson River and over Indian Point, but the vulnerability of the reactors is a matter of dispute. 

Nonetheless, Mr. Cuomo said that “the terrorist threat that this plant poses is insurmountable.” 

John Sullivan reported from White Plains and Matthew L. Wald from Washington.

December 5, 2007

Taking Aim at Indian Point 

In an extraordinary move, Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo have placed themselves at the head of the group of federal, state and local officials who believe that the Indian Point nuclear power plant is unsafe and poorly run and should be closed. They should be given a chance to make their case.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which must decide in the next year or two whether to allow Indian Point to remain open after its two reactor licenses expire in 2013 and 2015, should grant New York’s request to intervene in the relicensing process. It should provide a full airing of the issues raised by Mr. Spitzer and Mr. Cuomo, which focus mostly on Indian Point’s vulnerability to terrorist attack, its record of leaks, accidents and environmental damage and its status as the nuclear plant with more neighbors than any other in the country — 20 million people within 50 miles, in a region where mass evacuations might be all but impossible.

This would require changing the rules of such hearings, which focus on the soundness of the plant and the ability of the utility to run it. By asking for a hearing, Mr. Spitzer and Mr. Cuomo have joined local politicians and activists in arguing that the 9/11 attacks changed things and that the commission has not adequately considered the risks and consequences of terrorism as it reviews relicensing applications for the plants it oversees.

We, too, believe that domestic security is of utmost urgency. The intense scrutiny that New York wants to apply to Indian Point — about 30 miles up the Hudson River from Manhattan — should apply to all nuclear plants in the country, including those whose spent-fuel pools are above ground and thus more vulnerable than Indian Point’s.

This should not be misconstrued as an attack on nuclear power, which we strongly believe has a place in the nation’s energy mix. Indeed, our support for New York’s position comes with a major caveat: The state has an obligation to explain what it would do about the 2,000 megawatts of electricity that would be lost if the plant closed. Its solution must not compromise New York’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases in the region. Replacing one potential menace with another — like an environmentally dirtier and costly natural-gas plant — would be a bad outcome.

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