TheU.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission directed staff to reassess the potentialimpact of a severe incident at EntergyCorp.'s IndianPoint nuclear plant as part of its relicensing process and safetyupgrades.
TheNRC's May 4 decisionoverturned a 2014 administrative ruling based on a staff-compiled study that waschallenged by the state of New York. The commissioners found staff usedincorrect data to analyze the impact of a severe incident at the plant, whichis north of New York City in Westchester County, N.Y. along the Hudson River.
Gov.Andrew Cuomo, in a news release,welcomed the decision, saying it reaffirms his administration's "long-standingposition that the aging nuclear power plant needs to be retired." Cuomoopposes Indian Point's 20-year operating license renewal over concerns that thenuclear plant poses a threat to the public. The plant continues to beinvestigated following recent incidents,including a low-level radioactive leak in February.
NewYork State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also applauded the NRC'sdecision, saying it confirms that Entergy and NRC staff "havesystematically undercounted the costs and impacts associated with severereactor accidents at the Indian Point plant."
"Thecommissioners' decision requires the NRC staff to do what should have been doneyears ago: provide an accurate account of cost-effective upgrades at this agingnuclear plant that can prevent or minimize severe accidents," Schneidermansaid in a news release."While some might prefer to treat severe accidents as impossibilities, themillions of people who live and work near Indian Point deserve nothing lessthan a full and fair assessment of the plant upgrades needed to protect themagainst such accidents."
Entergyspokeswoman Patricia Kakridas said in a statement that the plant operator willbe working with NRC to comply but challenged the Cuomo disagreed withaccusations that the plant is unsafe.
"Thisissue is an assessment of the economics of Indian Point, not an evaluation ofits safety," Kakridas said. Entergy used an assessment model that the NRCestablished for the entire nuclear industry when it submitted its applicationin 2007, she explained. Moreover, since the relicensing process started nineyears ago, "the state and critics have filed in excess of 100 contentionsagainst Indian Point, the vast majority of which the NRC rejected," shesaid.