I think we need to take a cue from Ted Glick and his FERC to FREC proposal. What would a reformed NRC look like? Has anyone seen Gillibrand’s amendment? Can we make some proposals? If ever there was a time it is now.
Zambito, Thomas C, With New Jersey fir taking over Indian Point, New York U.S. senator fights back, Journal News Dec 4, 2020.
With New Jersey firm taking over Indian Point, New York U.S. senator fights back
Rockland/Westchester Journal News
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s “business as usual approach” to approving the sale of nuclear power plants must change and is trying to enlist her Senate colleagues in the effort.
On Wednesday, Gillibrand filed an amendment to a bill to assist a struggling nuclear power industry that would force the NRC to hold public hearings before approving a power plant’s license transfer.
At issue is last week’s NRC decision approving the sale of the Indian Point nuclear power plant to New Jersey-based Holtec over the objections of state and federal officials. They questioned whether Holtec has the expertise and financial backing to tear down the Buchanan plant.
“This amendment is an important and necessary reform to the way the NRC does business,” Gillibrand said. “After failing to
substantively respond repeated calls by the Congressional delegation to fully address the state and local stakeholders’ petitions and hold a public hearing, it is clear the NRC’s business as usual approach needs to change.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week said the NRC commission’s decision to approve the license transfer without a hearing “denies New Yorkers the public and transparent process they deserve.”
The NRC, in a Nov. 20 letter to New York’s federal lawmakers, promised a “meaningful opportunity” for lawmakers and environmental groups to air their concerns about the sale after the license transfer is approved. The NRC could then modify or condition the terms of the sale.
Holtec has a deal pending to purchase Indian Point from Louisiana-based Entergy when the plant shuts down its last working reactor – Unit 3 — in April.
Holtec says it can tear down the plant’s three reactors and clear the 240-acre site along the Hudson River of radioactive material in 12 to 15 years. The company would be paid out of decommissioning trust funds for the plant’s three reactors, which currently total $2.3 billion.
But, in a decision criticized by state and federal officials, the NRC agreed to an exemption which allows Holtec to divert some $632 million of trust fund money to manage the dozens of cement-and-steel canisters of spent nuclear fuel that will remain on the site long after the shutdown.
In a letter to the NRC, the state Public Service Commission, which oversees the energy industry, challenged the exemption.
“Holtec’s exemption request seeks to inappropriately divert more than $600 million for spent fuel management costs—costs which are not included within the scope of the Commission’s definition of decommissioning or the decommissioning regulations at issue here,” PSC lawyers write.
In 1992, the PSC agreed to let ConEdison, the plant’s then owner, charge state ratepayers $14.8 million for the eventual decommissioning of two of the plant’s reactors.
The PSC now questions whether the NRC should be allowed to divert ratepayer funds for spent fuel management, a federal obligation it considers “beyond the scope of decommissioning.”
Gillibrand’s amendment was not included in the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020, which was approved by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Wednesday.