“CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. (AP) — A lawyer for New York state said Thursday that an environmental report that supports extending licenses for the Indian Point nuclear power plants is inadequate, incomplete and reaches the wrong conclusion.

The report “just accepts significant environmental impacts as unavoidable,” John Parker, regional attorney for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said at a public hearing on the document. “We do not accept this premise.”

Indian Point’s owner, Entergy Nuclear, is trying to win license extensions that would allow the Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 reactors, about 35 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River, to operate until 2033 and 2035. The DEC has emerged as a significant challenger.

An environmental impact statement drafted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s staff concluded that whatever effects the plants have on the environment are acceptable, given the reactors’ energy production.

Parker noted that those effects include the “significant impact” of killing millions of fish and fish eggs each year by sucking them up from the river into the plants’ cooling systems.

The DEC has jurisdiction over Indian Point’s use of river water, and its own impact statement — which can and likely will be challenged — says that if Entergy wins the new licenses, it must save fish by building costly cooling towers that use 95 percent less water.

Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the company agrees with the NRC report that “there are no environmental issues so significant that we shouldn’t proceed with the relicensing process.”

The environmental group Riverkeeper also spoke in support of the Hudson River fish. Program Director Phillip Musegaas said at least six species are in decline, “and Indian Point contributes to that decline because of its cooling system.”

Several other objections to Indian Point’s relicensing were voiced at the hearing. Most were familiar concerns, including the danger of waste fuel, the feasibility of evacuating a densely populated area in the event of a problem at the plants, and the possibility of a terrorist threat, which is not being considered in the relicensing process.

Many supporters of Indian Point also spoke, including dozens of people from poor New York City neighborhoods who said they were members of Safe Healthy Affordable Reliable Energy, or SHARE. Deputy Director Gregory Joseph said the group feared energy prices would rise and air would be fouled by conventional power plants if Indian Point closed.

He said Entergy was the group’s primary funder.

Among the opponents of extending the licenses was a group called the Radiation and Public Health Project. It said new data showed that the four counties surrounding Indian Point have some of the state’s highest rates of thyroid cancer, which can be caused by radiation.

State Health Department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond confirmed that the rates are high, but he noted that diet, heredity, and greater awareness among doctors could be responsible. Steets said Indian point releases only tiny amounts of the iodine gas that can cause thyroid cancer.

Comments made at the hearing are to be considered as the final report is written. It is due in February 2010.”

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