Three federal administrative law judges will hear expert testimony starting this week on whether to renew Indian Point’s operating license for another 20 years.
Entergy Nuclear, owner of the plant, will argue for the license extension, and three others– the state of New York attorney general’s office, the nonprofit environmental watchdog Riverkeeper, and the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater– will argue against. (See our previous coverage.)
Each group already filed testimony for the hearings, which will run for most of the next two weeks at the Tarrytown DoubleTree Hotel. They also will continue in December. The judges –two engineers and a lawyer– are part of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, an independent arm of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Generally, the license renewal process for any nuclear plant involves hearings like these where only the judges ask questions. But in the case of Indian Point, the state and other parties won the right to cross examine the expert witnesses during the hearings– a decision that the five commissioners of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission just upheld on Friday despite opposition from Entergy representatives.
The hearings are open to the public, starting Monday Oct. 15th at 1 PM, but the public may not speak.
According to the New York Times, the judges will hear arguments on at least 14 separate issues including whether health and safety impacts and costs of a nuclear accident have been analyzed adequately; whether storage of spent nuclear fuel is safe; and whether the 40-year-old plants can operate another 20 years given aging plant infrastructure.
Whichever side prevails, after the hearings, the panel’s decisions, which will take months to prepare, probably will be appealed.
Apart from the hearings, Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council released a new economic study on Friday, that shows the cost of replacing Indian Point’s power with clean energy is $12- $15 per year for the average residential consumer.