“WHITE PLAINS -State attorneys general from New York and Connecticut weighed in on Indian Point’s relicensing yesterday, supporting a Westchester lawsuit to force federal regulators to evaluate working nuclear plants the same way they do new sites.
“This brief raises serious questions about the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) relicensing process – a process that ignores important factors about nuclear power plant safety and is stacked in favor of plant operators,” Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a prepared statement.
“Our brief reinforces a position I have long held,” Cuomo said. “New York needs to work toward an energy future without Indian Point.”
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano yesterday followed through on a February promise to take the case to federal court after the NRC denied the county’s petition to change relicensing criteria.
Spano sought to have the agency look at population density, the viability of emergency evacuation plans, potential for terrorism and a plant’s environmental record.
He said the federal regulations were adopted in 1991 and amended in 1995, too far removed from today’s world.
“We live in a different age since 2001,” Spano said. “To be responsible, the NRC cannot continue doing things the way they were done previously.”
Connecticut State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal also supports the legal action.
NRC spokesman Diane Screnci declined comment on the matter yesterday, saying the agency can’t publicly discuss any court case.
Screnci did say that Indian Point’s relicensing application, which was filed April 30 and normally takes six to eight weeks to be accepted, had not yet been approved for processing.
NRC officials said in rejecting Spano’s original petition that the proposed changes were unwarranted. The agency looks almost exclusively at the operation of whatever plant is seeking a 20-year license renewal.
Factors such as demographics, siting and the ability to conduct an effective emergency evacuation are not part of the relicensing application. The agency says it considers those in ongoing reviews.
Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns and operates Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 in Buchanan, announced plans the day before Thanksgiving to apply for license extensions for both plants. If granted, the renewals would allow the plants to operate until 2033 and 2035, respectively.
The original 40-year licenses for Indian Point 2 will expire in 2013. A similar license for Indian Point 3 will expire in 2015.
“The NRC’s refusal to require consideration of emergency planning and security concerns as part of Indian Point’s relicensing review is unjustifiable, given the significant changes in population density, increase in traffic congestion and increased concerns over terrorism in the New York metropolitan area,” said Alex Matthiessen, president of the environmental group Riverkeeper.
Matthiessen said the attorney general’s support was welcome.
Jerry Kremer, chairman of the industry group New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, said the plant was a safe facility that was important to the state’s economy and air quality.
“In light of our growing demand for and the rising cost of energy, Mr. Cuomo’s announcement is shortsighted and ignores the energy needs of the downstate area,” Kremer said. “New York’s state officials should be looking for ways to create new electric power and not look for ways to choke off what we have.”
The case is expected to be heard in mid-October.”
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