Two top members of Governor Cuomo’s administration — including Lieutenant Governor Duffy — met with senior staff at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) this week about Indian Point. In light of the disaster in Japan, and because Indian Point’s reactors sit on two earthquake fault lines, concerns have been raised about whether the plant was designed to withstand the seismic activity that could result from an earthquake.
After their private meeting, the NRC pledged to make Indian Point its “first and top priority” in its review of seismic risk at 27 nuclear plants throughout the country. The review is scheduled for next year.
At the request of the Cuomo Administration, the NRC also agreed to a cooperative review of Indian Point as a joint effort between the NRC and New York State. In addition, NRC Chair Greg Jaczko has agreed to conduct a personal site inspection of Indian Point with New York officials. No specific dates have been set yet, according to the NRC.
Gov. Cuomo is on record as an opponent of the plant’s continued operation and yesterday he repeated that the plant should be shut down. Today’s Wall St. Journal reports that the governor sees the question of where to get replacement power for the plant’s 2000 megawatts as a separate issue.
The plant’s two, 40-year-old reactors–a third one is not operating– are up for re-licensing by 2013 and 2015. The plant’s owner, Entergy, has said that the reactors are safe. In a full-page ad in the New York Times and Journal News, addressed as a letter to the citizens of New York, Entergy CEO J. Wayne Leonard welcomed the review called for by Gov. Cuomo.
Leonard also noted, “…we will of course be reviewing our procedures, training and equipment. Questions we will be addressing—at our own company and as an industry ….include: a) Are the loss of power contingency scenarios that we currently plan for sufficiently robust, or are there additional scenarios for which we should be preparing? b) Do we have adequate equipment redundancy to deal with these scenarios, taking into account possible common failure modes? (For instance, we are considering pre-positioning off-site emergency generators that could be brought to the site quickly by truck or helicopter and made operational should the on-site emergency generators be disabled.) c) Is our training and drilling for these loss of power scenarios adequate?
The NRC says that the Indian Point site was selected as the first to be inspected by NRC next year because “the revised seismic data showed the largest increase in seismic risk from the previous study.”