The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected an attempt by Westchester
County Executive Andrew Spano to broaden the standards it uses to review
plants such as Indian Point when they apply for relicensing.

The decision comes just weeks after Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owners
of the Buchanan plants, announced it would seek to continue operating them
through 2035. The licenses for the existing plants expire in 2013 and 2015;
the company plans to formally apply for 20-year license extensions in the

“It is just outrageous,” said Susan Tolchin, Spano’s chief adviser, of the
ruling. “Unfortunately it’s a typical decision that didn’t take into
account all of the things we brought to their attention.” She said the
decision “once again sides with the nuclear industry rather than with
concern about public safety, which is what County Executive Spano is most
concerned about.”

Spano, who opposes the plants’ relicensing, had sent a petition to the NRC
in May 2005 in the hope of making the process more difficult for Entergy,
should it go that route. Among other things, he asked the NRC to treat a
plant seeking relicensing in the same way it would a new operator seeking
to build a plant in that location today, review such issues as local
demographics, the physical site, emergency evacuation plans and site

The NRC, in its ruling, denied both Spano’s request and a similar petition
from the mayor of Brick Township, N.J., north of the Oyster Creek Nuclear
Generating Station. The agency said the two petitions “raise issues that
the commission already considered at length in developing the license
renewal rule.”

“These issues are managed by the ongoing regulatory process or under other
regulations, or are issues beyond the commission’s regulatory authority,”
it added.

But Tolchin said the demographics had changed.

“When these plants were sited here … this was something that was not
meant to be forever and ever. Things change, roads get clogged, cities get
built up, population increases, we had Sept. 11. The county executive
remains concerned that he cannot safely evacuate people if the plant has a
fast-breaking (disaster) scenario.”

Lisa Rainwater, director of the Indian Point Campaign for the Riverkeeper,
called the NRC’s decision “ludicrous.”

Tolchin said Spano’s staff planned to hold a “strategy session” today to
discuss what to do next.

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