Indian Point

Brodsky, 1; Indian Point, 0 (Updated)

Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky has scored a victory in his long-running battle against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, thanks to a federal appeals court that reversed a lower court ruling on the commission’s responsibility to involve and notify the public before exempting the Hudson Valley nuclear power plant from health and safety requirements.

The exemption challenged by Brodsky, who is also a veteran attorney, dealt with fire safety.

NRC rules require that the electric cables that control reactor shutdown in the case of an emergency have fire insulation that lasts one hour. But when tested, the insulation at Indian Point (and elsewhere) lasted 27 minutes.

Rather than require Entergy to upgrade the insulation to meet the one hour requirement the NRC, at Entergy’s request, issued an “exemption” that lowered the requirement to 24 minutes, Brodsky noted. And it did so without notifying the public of its consideration of Entergy’s application, or permitting the public to comment, or participate, or attend a public hearing.

According to the decision, which was nine months in the making (Brodsky argued the case last May and filed his lawsuit over four years ago), the NRC must “supplement the administrative record to explain why allowing public input into the exemption request was inappropriate or impracticable.”

In a brief telephone interview, Brodsky called the decision a “crack in the wall of secrecy that the NRC uses to hide its health and safety decisions.”

Environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. called the 2nd Circuit decision in Brodsky v. NRC a “turning point in our long-standing struggle to end the collusion between the NRC and the nuclear industry,” adding:

“It will both protect and involve the public in key NRC health and safety decisions. Our primary concern has always been public health and safety, nowhere more important than with an Indian Point reactor with the worst health and safety record in the nation and located 28 miles from New York City.”

This decision will not likely help Entergy in its quest for a 20-year extension of its operating licenses for Indian Point. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made it clear he wants the plant to close, although he also is seeking an alternative for the over 2,000 megawatts of power it generates, without which New York City would be in a serious bind.

AG Eric Schneiderman is also actively seeking to block Indian Point from getting is licenses renewed. He has said Entergy has a “steep hill to climb,” and in July 2011, he won a key decision from the federal government that would require the facility to submit an action and environmental cleanup plan for accidents before being re-licensed.

Schneiderman had sought the stipulation in the ongoing battle over the re-licensing of the Westchester-based plan after the NRC decided to not require the environmental impact study – another black mark against the commission in the eyes of Indian Point opponents.

UPDATE: Entergy spokesman Jim Steets emailed the following statement:

“The court found Mr. Brodsky’s challenges to past NRC decisions regarding exemption requests to be ‘generally without merit,’ but the court took issue with the NRC’s process and the extent to which that process involved public participation. The case was sent back to the district for further proceedings on that narrow issue, and did not involve any issue in the license renewal proceeding.”

Brodsky v NRC 2nd Circuit Decision

Assembly Committee Says Indian Point Can Shut Down

After doing a round of hearings earlier this month, two Assembly Democrats say their preliminary findings suggest that shutting down the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant could be done with little impact on rate payers. In a press release, they say that investing in energy efficiency and by completing ongoing projects the state should be able to provide enough energy to make up for the loss of the nuclear power plant.

“The information we gathered clearly demonstrates that Indian Point can be shut down without unduly burdening New York’s ratepayers or the electric system,” said Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Energy. “We have the framework and the resources for a future without Indian Point. It all comes down to the State developing a plan and putting it in motion.”

“The experts testified that New York has the resources to replace these nuclear plants; now the decision makers need the will to make it happen,” said Assemblymember James Brennan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.

The press release goes on to break it down their thinking, citing an increase of 5 thousand megawatts of power by 2015-2016 from proposed projects. And an additional 1,500 megawatts through energy efficiency and modernization of exisiting power plants by fixing current constraints that prevent certain plants from operating at full capacity, without building new power lines or new power plants.

These findings have been supported by several reports that were paid for by opponents of Indian Point. A contrasting report paid for by Mayor Bloomberg suggested that there would be huge spikes in cost and dirtier air if Indian Point shut down.

Giuliani Indian Point Ad: Facility Safe And Secure

Close watchers of NY1 this morning caught the first glimpse of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s television spot for the controversial nuclear power plant Indian Point.

“That’s clean, renewable, and low-cost electricity that powers the greatest city on earth,” Giuliani says in the ad.

Giuliani says New Yorkers “have a right to know the facts about this important source of energy” and that the site “is among the most thoroughly reviewed nuclear energy facilities in the country.”

The Giuliani ad can be seen as a strong counter to opposition to Indian Point’s permit renewal from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. With the passage of the long-sought Article X siting bill this past year, a replacement for Indian Point has become more possible.

But city officials, including Giuliani’s successor Michael Bloomberg, have said the plant is a necessity for providing power to New York City.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, too, has knocked the Westchester-based site for failing to meet basic fire-safety regulations.

But the former mayor, who yesterday announced he won’t launch a long-shot bid for president, suggests that his concerns over safety for New York City are equal to that of Entergy.

“I want to do everything needed to keep New York safe and strong. And the people of Indian Point want to do too.”

IP Neighbors: Keep Nuke Plant Open

Nearly half of the residents who live near the controversial Indian Point nuclear plant oppose a plan to close the aging facility, a NY1/YNN Marist College poll found.

The poll found 49 percent of adults living near the facility are at odds with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vow to close the Westchester County facility.

Forty percent of Hudson Valley residents say they back closing the nuclear plant, while 11 percent remain unsure.

“After all these years, this remains a highly charged issue,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Governor Cuomo still has some convincing to do.”

Indian Point became a renwed issue of concern after a Japanese power plant was heavily damaged by a Tsunami. The facility does rest on a fault line, but the facility’s owners, Entergy, have insisted the plant remains secure in the event of an earthquake.

Overall, 48 percent of New York residents told Marist College want to keep the plan open and 42 percent of New Yorkers support closing it. Fifty-two percent of New Yorkers say they support nuclear power, while 36 oppose.

Cuomo hopes that with the long-sought approval of the Article X power-plant siting law, New York can begin to build new power plants and take Indian Point offline. The plant is the predominant supplier of power for New York City, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said closing the plant would lead to higher energy bills and blackouts.

The Marist poll also found divergent attitudes on another hotly debated energy issue: hydraulic fracturing.

The natural-gas extraction process known commonly as hydrofracking, has the supprot of 37 percent of respondents and 33 percent oppose. A large amount of New Yorkers — 30 percent — say they haven’t made up their minds. More >

Report: ‘Significant Impacts’ From Indian Point Closure

A new report by New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection suggests that not renewing the nuclear power plants licenses in 2015 and 2016 respectively would have significant impact on New York City.

The timing is interesting. Governor Andrew Cuomo, a long time opponent of Indian Point who has publicly called for its license not to be renewed, just today signed the new Article X power plant siting law streamlining the process for building new plants. The Governor has suggested that this legislation will help alleviate any loss in electricity from Indian Point.

The report was done by a Boston based firm. It looks at what would happen to the cost of energy, air quality, and the electrical grid if Indian Point was closed. The biggest impact seems to be on energy prices, which are expected to increase “measurably” if Indian Point closes.

Schneiderman Scores Indian Point Ruling Win

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office today is celebrating a key decision from the federal government that would require the Indian Point nuclear facility to submit an action and environmental cleanup plan for accidents before being re-licensed.

Schneiderman had sought the stipulation in the ongoing battle over the re-licensing of the Westchester-based Indian Point facility after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided to not require the environmental impact study, his office said.

“Severe accidents cannot be treated as impossibilities, and this critical ruling confirms that Indian Point must follow regulations to protect the public and control the effects of a potentially severe nuclear accident,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “We will not permit the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy to procrastinate or limit the relicensing review with the hope that full responsibility for protective measures can be avoided. My office will continue to take the action necessary to ensure Indian Point complies with all applicable laws and regulations, and that the surrounding communities are protected.”

Schneiderman, who has concentrated heavily on environmental cases like Indian Point and the contentious debate over high-volume hydrofracking in the Southern Tier, said the ruling confirms extra caution is needed before re-licensing the plant.

The AG has recently signed onto a petition that would require the facility, one fo the oldest operating nuke plants in the country, to assess its operating limitations. Schneiderman also wants the plant’s operator, Entergy, to conduct a seismic risk evaluation at the plant.

Schneiderman: Increase Fire Safety At Indian Point

Federal officials have accepted Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s petition to correct fire safety issues at the Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester County.

Schneiderman’s office said this morning that the move could pave the way for federal authorities to compel plant owners Entergy to fix the issues.

“If Indian Point is vulnerable, so too are the tens of millions of people who live and work in the communities that surround it,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “My office has zero tolerance for violations that put New Yorkers at risk and will continue to take all necessary action to ensure the facility meets the safety requirements. I will continue my efforts to ensure the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission does the same.”

Among the problems Schneiderman said must be fixed:

-The facility has not installed required fire detectors or fire suppression systems in various locations;

-It has not strengthened electrical cables to withstand fire damage for one- to three-hours, a regulation established to provide necessary plant safety in the event of an emergency;

-It has not sufficiently separated electrical cables from one another to ensure that a fire would not damage both the primary and back up cables that control important safety systems; and

-Tather than installing automatic response systems, the facility would rely on employees performing a series of manual actions, which the NRC has not authorized as a means of adequately protecting nuclear facilities in the event of a fire.

Earlier this year, Schneiderman’s office sued the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for allowing NRC the storage of radioactive waste at nuclear power facilities for at least 60 years after they close without first conducting an environmental impact review.

This also isn’t the only foray into environmental law. Schneiderman is also suing the federal government over its review standards for hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural gas extraction process.

2011 03 28 OAG 2-206 Petition Re Fire Safety

Share Your Thoughts On Indian Point

Manhattan Democratic state senator Liz Krueger has launched a new online survey asking New Yorkers to share their thoughts on the controversial Indian Point power plant, which is up for license renewal in 2013.

Krueger has been a staunch opponent of the power plant for many years now.

“I have been calling for the closure of Indian Point since 2003, but the devastation seen in Japan has served as a powerful reminder that sometimes the worst case scenario does happen, and we cannot go about our lives pretending it never will,” said Senator Krueger.

“I’ve been very clear on where I stand with Indian Point, as have several other elected leaders, including Governor Cuomo, but now it’s time to hear from the public. I want to know where people stand on this issue.”

This argument has been heating up lately, in the wake of what happened in Japan. We reported on SOP yesterday that Indian Point has released a new ad informing New Yorkers that their plants are earthquake proof.

Here’s Sen. Krueger’s comments on the issue:

Indian Point’s New Ad: We’re Quake-Proof

Indian Point, the Westchester County-based nuclear plant on the Hudson River, is running a series of 60-second radio spots in the wake of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami that again raised concerns over safety at the aging facility.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have both taken a fresh look into the plant’s ability to withstand an earthquake, as well as man-made catastrophes.

Entergy, the plant’s owner, has a history of quickly responding to charges the facility isn’t safe or would endanger the high-density population that lives within meltdown range.

Here’s the script from the radio ad:

My name is Joe Pollock, and I’m in charge of running the Indian Point Energy Center safely.

We understand your need to hear from us about the safety of Indian Point, so here are some facts:

Indian Point has been designed to withstand an earthquake 100 times the magnitude of the strongest earthquake ever recorded in this area.

However, it is important to remember it was the tsunami, not the earthquake, that caused the loss of power to the cooling systems at the Japan plants.

At Indian Point, we’ve added multiple layers of on-site backup power sources that are safe from flooding to assure our cooling systems will work whenever they are needed.

All who work here have complete confidence in the safety of our plants. We continuously upgrade our systems, train constantly, and build redundancies in all our operations to assure safety.

Our families and friends live here too. We would not be here, if we didn’t also believe that Indian Point provides clean, reliable, lower cost power, SAFELY.

Lawmakers Plan Nuke Safety Meeting (Updated)

Sens. David Carlucci, a Hudson Valley Democrat, along with Republicans Greg Ball and George Maziarz (a WNYer who chairs the Energy Committee), plan to hold a hearing Thursday in Stony Point to discuss contingency plans in the event of a nuclear crisis.

“The Indian Point nuclear power plant, which sits within two miles of two intersecting fault lines has the highest risk of an earthquake causing its reactors core damage in the United States,” Carlucci said in a statement.

“To ensure the safety of the 20 million people who live within the 50-mile peak injury zone, Senator Maziarz, Senator Ball and I will be holding a hearing focused on detailing plans and precautions in the event of a natural disaster.”

UPDATE: We’ve just learned that the hearing has been postponed to May 12 due to “scheduling conflicts” on some speakers. Carlucci said the date was delayed so the trio could “provide ample time for the agencies around the state who are responsible for our safety to be able to attend.”

The disaster in Japan has revived talk in New York about the safety of Indian Point, located in Westchester County along the Hudson River. New York has several other facilities in the Rochester region.

But it is Indian Point and its proximity to New York City that has heightened the concern. Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington to discuss safety at the plant with federal officials and secure a plan to have top regulators visit the plant later this year.

Evacuating the area around Indian Point has been deemed a near impossibility in the event of a major catastrophe and meltdown. However, the plants owners, Entergy, have insisted the plant remains well-guarded in the event of a disaster.