“Sen. Hillary Clinton went “nuclear” on potential presidential rival Rudy Giuliani yesterday – charging that a nuclear client of the former mayor’s needs a major safety review.

Following some recent scares at Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County, Clinton has reintroduced a bill that would force a stepped-up review of the plant by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“Restoring public trust in the facility will depend on a more thorough examination of the plant than the NRC is currently conducting,” Clinton said in a statement.

Left unsaid was that Entergy is a major client of Giuliani Partners, which for years has worked as a consultant to develop Indian Point’s evacuation and safety plans.

Aides to the senator denied that there was any political fallout intended for the Republican Giuliani, who is riding high in polls of 2008 presidential contenders.

“Sen. Clinton has a long history of expressing concern over this issue,” Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said. “And she is solely motivated by ensuring the safety of her constituents.”

But the release immediately put Team Giuliani on the defensive and underscored how the former mayor’s private-sector client list could cause him a series of small headaches as he runs for the White House.

“Indian Point has repeatedly demonstrated that it is among the best-run plants in the country,” Giuliani Partners Vice President Thomas Fitzpatrick said.

Added a Giuliani campaign aide, “This is heavy on rhetoric and short on substance.”

Giuliani and Entergy officials noted that the NRC is already conducting a thorough review of Indian Point’s safety systems as part of its proposed relicensing, and they argued that Clinton’s bill would unfairly single out the plant for additional scrutiny.

Clinton’s call comes 10 days after Indian Point experienced an unexpected drop in cooling water, a problem later blamed on a clogged filter. Critics have also pointed to continuing leaks of strontium 90 at the plant and workers saying they can’t speak up without fear of retribution.”

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