Indian Point Hearings Likely To Stretch Into Years

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License renewal hearings for the Indian Point nuclear power plants are likely to take years, as the NRC studies the environmental impacts of storing spent nuclear fuel at reactor sites. Photo Credit: Jessica Glenza

BUCHANAN, N.Y. – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced a two-year deadline for a study on the environmental impacts of storing spent nuclear fuel on-site at nuclear power plants, like Indian Point. The agency's original finding that long-term nuclear waste storage would be available "when necessary" was struck down by a federal appeals court in June.

The study's 24-month deadline highlights what many estimate will be a drawn-out hearing process. Until the study is completed, all final decisions on license renewals are suspended, as is the hearing of all contentions regarding spent nuclear fuel at the Indian Point nuclear power plants. 

The agency's original "waste confidence decision" was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in June. The waste confidence decision is a generic environmental impact statement on the effects of long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear power plants nationwide.

The court found fault with the NRC's assessment of environmental impacts should a long-term geologic repository for nuclear waste never be built. The court also found deficiencies with "the agency’s consideration of leaks and fires involving spent fuel pools," as phrased in an NRC press release.

The new environmental impact statement must address the possibility that a long-term geologic repository for nuclear waste, such as one proposed at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, may never be built.

Storage of spent nuclear fuel and spent-fuel pools are not directly considered in nuclear power plant license renewal proceedings.

The Indian Point Nuclear power plants have the most contentions, or assertions that renewing a power plant's license would violate the law, ever to come before a panel of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. The hearings are scheduled to come before a three-member panel of the board in October in Tarrytown.

Because Indian Point's owner, Entergy Nuclear, filed its license renewal application early, the two active plants can continue operating through the license renewal proceedings. 

NRC spokesperson Diane Screnci did not give a time frame for the final decision on the Indian Point license renewal, but said she expects the decision to take "a few" years. She said the Indian Point case has already far exceeded the average license renewal period of 18 to 22 months.

"Our concern is that they could take longer than 24 months," said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River program director for Riverkeeper. "We're concerned that the NRC has a habit of dragging out these types of reviews over years." Riverkeeper is a party, with Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and New York state, to many of the contentions against the Indian Point license renewal.

NRC staff received direction from the commission Thursday to set up a means to receive public comment on the new environmental impact statement. Screnci said the agency will release more details in the future about how the public can contribute online.

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Comments (4)

Francis T McVetty:

The question is [ 11,000MWs of new generation and will play a big part in creating the new Energy Highway ]
Where is this energy coming from? What is its source? When will this "source" become available? It certainly looks to me that there is a lot of maybe's in this "source" of electricity.
The big question, even if the plant is closed what will happen to the stored waste? That will still be a problem whether the plant is open or closed.
Another question is why have we wasted over 80 billion dollars on the Yucca Mountain disposal facility? Why has Obama NOT utilized it? It has been payed for with our tax dollars. Let these "environmentalists" show us that with the closing of the Indian point facility our electric rates won't go off the wall. Not only that but the electricity generated will be "clean" and equal the amount generated at the Indian Point Facility.

Marilyn Elie:

Nice to read a straight forward accurate article on Indian Point. It really is hard to tell how long the relicensing process might stretch out..

One thing that could really change all of this is the Water Quality Certificate. The final appeal hearings are going on in Albany now. The State has full jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The reactors cannot operate if they are not allowed to withdraw massive amounts of water from the Hudson for cooling purposes. The NY State Dept of Environmental Conservation has required Entergy to go to closed cycle cooling to cut down on the massive disruption to the Hudson River ecosystem. Hard to imagine that the company would want to make the investment if it looks like one or both of the units might not get relicensed. Another thing that is still pending is the Coastal Management Plan. Hard to know how that will play out.

While environmental matters are being sorted out the State of New York has issued a Transmission and Distribution Reliability Study and Report. Page 85 lays out public health and safety concerns and out lines the plan to maintain reliability. it is an important, ambitious study . It predicts an additional 11,000MWs of new generation and will play a big part in creating the new Energy Highway.

Those who follow this issue or have questions and concerns about the grid and how we get our electricity might be interested in a forthcoming afternoon at Stony Point Conference Center. On September 30. Mission Electric - The Power is Ours - Transitioning to a Green Energy Economy will be presented starting at noon. Experts, break out groups, a panel, healthy snacks, lots of time for questions and answers will make this a lively afternoon with solid facts and some real solutions. Call 888-474-8848 for more info..

Marilyn Elie:

Nice to read a straight forward accurate article on Indian Point. It really is hard to tell how long the relicensing process might stretch out..

One thing that could really change all of this is the Water Quality Certificate. The final appeal hearings are going on in Albany now. The State has full jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The reactors cannot operate if they are not allowed to withdraw massive amounts of water from the Hudson for cooling purposes. The NY State Dept of Environmental Conservation has required Entergy to go to closed cycle cooling to cut down on the massive disruption to the Hudson River ecosystem. Hard to imagine that the company would want to make the investment if it looks like one or both of the units might not get relicensed. Another thing that is still pending is the Coastal Management Plan. Hard to know how that will play out.

While environmental matters are being sorted out the State of New York has issued a Transmission and Distribution Reliability Study and Report. Page 85 lays out public health and safety concerns and out lines the plan to maintain reliability. it is an important, ambitious study . It predicts an additional 11,000MWs of new generation and will play a big part in creating the new Energy Highway.

Those who follow this issue or have questions and concerns about the grid and how we get our electricity might be interested in a forthcoming afternoon at Stony Point Conference Center. On September 30. Mission Electric - The Power is Ours - Transitioning to a Green Energy Economy will be presented starting at noon. Experts, break out groups, a panel, healthy snacks, lots of time for questions and answers will make this a lively afternoon with solid facts and some real solutions. Call 888-474-8848 for more info..

sayitsnotso:

Hendrick Hudson School District will at least have over 30% of the budget still paid by the Indians running the plant unless the riverkeepers sneak in and turn off the plant.

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