NY agency objects to relicensing Indian Point nuclear plant

By Michael Virtanen, Associated Press

A New York agency has objected to relicensing the Indian Point nuclear plant on the Hudson River, saying it kills millions of fish larvae and sits near seismic faults with an earthquake threat to millions of people.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A New York agency has objected to relicensing the Indian Point nuclear plant on the Hudson River, saying it kills millions of fish larvae and sits near seismic faults with an earthquake threat to millions of people.

The Department of State said the plant is incompatible with the estuary's ecology and safety of New York City 24 miles downstream. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is prohibited from relicensing the Indian Point reactors unless the U.S. commerce secretary overrides the objection on appeal, Secretary of State Cesar Perales wrote.

"For over 40 years, Entergy's Indian Point nuclear facilities have been damaging the coastal resources of the Hudson River estuary," the state agency wrote. That includes 2.5 million gallons of water withdrawn daily from the Hudson for cooling that kills an estimated 1 billion larvae, small fish and other organisms annually.

According to the department's evaluation, one nuclear reactor has a relatively high risk of damage from an earthquake. "Such an event would potentially expose millions of people to harmful levels of radiation."

Also, leaks from the other reactor's pools holding spent fuel have reached the river, the department said. "Future leaks to groundwater or airborne radiological releases have the potential to affect the drinking water supply in the nearby New Croton Reservoir, affecting millions of people."

Indian Point's first reactor, now shut, was licensed in 1962, followed by two others in 1973 and 1975 now up for relicensing.

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. said they generate about 2,000 megawatts of electricity, more than 10 percent of the state's energy supply, while producing little air pollution or emissions contributing to global warming, unlike power plants that burn oil, coal and natural gas.

"Entergy expects to meet all regulatory safety requirements for license renewal and obtain the necessary water permits that are designed to protect the river and fish," spokeswoman Patricia Kakridas said. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has recommended license renewal, she said.

"Indian Point is safe, and we have a proven commitment to operating the plants safely and reliably," Kakridas said. "In fact, Entergy has invested more than $1 billion over the last decade to enhance safety and security at the plant, making Indian Point safer today than when it was built."

Meanwhile, an Entergy lawsuit pending at New York's highest court challenges the need for the state's coastal management certification in renewing its federal licenses for 20 years. A midlevel court concluded the state's coastal review isn't needed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Indian Point should be closed, that there's no way to evacuate New York City in the event of a nuclear accident.

The environmental group Riverkeeper said the department's objection agrees with many of its own findings about environmental and safety risks, also noting the "unquestionable feasibility" of replacing its electricity output from other sources.

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