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July XX, 2020
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor
State of New York
New York State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
The Honorable Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Temporary President and Majority Leader
New York State Senate
Legislative Office Building, Room 907
Albany, NY 12247
The Honorable Carl Heastie, Speaker
New York State Assembly
Legislative Office Building, Room 932
Albany, NY 12248
RE: Support a New York State Nuclear Decommissioning Oversight Board
Dear Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie,
We write to express our strong support for the Nuclear Decommissioning Oversight Board legislation. The undersigned xxx organizations represent a diverse cross-section of New Yorkers. We strongly support S.8154/A.10236 sponsored by Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblymember Sandy Galef, which establishes the framework for the state’s oversight of decommissioning nuclear power plants in the state. State oversight is essential, because the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has shown time and again that it protects the nuclear industry, not states or communities. In particular, the NRC repeatedly rubber stamps exemptions that allow decommissioning funds to be spent on other things. This legislation is therefore critical to ensure the successful shut down of Indian Point is followed by a safe and successful decommissioning that is funded by the decommissioning fund, not the state.
The New York State Decommissioning Oversight Boards created by this legislation would enable a unified response from all relevant New York State agencies and facilitate public input from impacted communities, labor representatives, and other interested stakeholders. The Decommissioning Oversight Boards would build upon the success of the current task force, which deals only with transition issues, not decommissioning. This bill provides:
– A forum for all relevant state agencies and a diverse group of interested stakeholders to provide comprehensive long-term oversight to ensure New York’s nuclear plants are decommissioned in an efficient and safe manner protecting the state’s environmental and financial interests
– Guarantees that any reimbursements from litigation or settlement with the Department of Energy are used for decommissioning or spent fuel management purposes
– The decommissioning company returns any remaining trust funds to NYSERDA for the benefit of ratepayers
– Annual audit of expenditures from the decommissioning trust fund
– Increased transparency by ensuring public access to information and facilitating public participation
– Notification requirements that mandate the licensee inform the state and public of major events or changes at the site
– An aggressive 40-year timeline for the completion of decommissioning, allowing the site to be put back into productive use sooner. This timeline benefits the state’s economic interest and will not conflict with the NRC’s oversight. NRC’s 60-year decommissioning allowance does not regulate how long within the 60-year period the decommissioning must occur. This leaves the state able to enforce a faster decommissioning.
Massachusetts’ recent settlement agreement with Holtec – the entity poised to take ownership of Indian Point and its licenses – likely illustrates the best financial assurances a state can mandate without an oversight board. While that settlement requires that all monies recovered from the Department of Energy be used for the purpose of decommissioning, site restoration, or spent fuel management, it lacks the guarantees for transparency and close oversight that this bill provides and are necessary for a safe and successful decommissioning. This leaves
Massachusetts in a far weaker position than it would be with a decommissioning oversight board.
The choice of Holtec as the decommissioning entity makes this bill particularly essential. Holtec’s financial position is precarious because it lied about its past record of bribery to obtain tax breaks that have now been suspended. It has also emerged that the company may be involved in a criminal investigation. Furthermore, Holtec is embroiled in a lawsuit in New Jersey and is claiming not to be subject to any local oversight of their work at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant. State supervision of decommissioning is critical whichever entity is doing the work, but is imperative when the entity proposed has such a dubious record.
For these reasons, the undersigned organization strongly supports this legislation to establish New York State Decommissioning Oversight Boards and asks the Governor, Assembly Speaker, and Senate Temporary President and Majority Leader to support this legislation.