Regulator approves Indian Point 3 operation

11 December 2015

Entergy can continue to operate Indian Point 3 while it seeks licence renewal, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has told the company. The plant's initial 40-year licence had been due to expire on 12 December.

Indian Point 2 and 3 (Image: NRC/Entergy)

Entergy applied to the NRC for a 20-year renewal for the licences of both Indian Point units in April 2007. Typically, it takes NRC staff between 18 and 24 months to review such an application, with the process taking about 30 months if a hearing is granted. In Indian Point's case, however, the hearing has taken longer than expected. The NRC says that this is, in part, due to the "large number of issues raised by parties in the adjudicatory proceeding".

The NRC has now informed Entergy that it can continue to operate Indian Point 3 under its "timely renewal" provision until a final determination is made on the company's licence renewal request. That decision is still likely to be several years away, Entergy said.

Emergency preparedness plan

The NRC has agreed to Entergy's request to alter the emergency preparedness plan for Vermont Yankee to reflect the plant's decommissioning status. Effective from April 2016, there will no longer be a 10-mile emergency planning zone identified in the plant's licence, but the plant will maintain an onsite emergency plan and response capabilites. Entergy retired the single-unit BWR plant December 2014 after 42 years of operation. All of the plant's used fuel has now been permanently removed from the reactor vessel.

Under the federal regulations, a licence renewal application is considered to be "timely" if it is made at least five years before a reactor's current licence expires. The NRC may then allow the facility to continue to operate under its existing licence until it has completed its review of the application and made a final decision on the licence renewal request.

Indian Point 2 received approval from the NRC to continue operating under the timely renewal provision in September 2013, just before its original operating licence was due to expire.

Indian Point 3 can now continue to operate under its original licence, in accordance with NRC requirements and modifications to procedures and safety analyses required by the NRC to assure continued safe operation during the timely renewal period. All of the licence renewal commitments for Indian Point 3 required prior to entry into timely renewal were completed by the end of September, and inspected by the NRC in October.

Entergy purchased Indian Point 3 from the New York Power Authority in 2000 and Indian Point 2 from Con Ed in 2001. Since then, the company has invested over $1 billion in upgrading the plants and preparing them for continued operation beyond their initial 40-year licences.

The two pressurized water reactors are located 24 miles north of New York City.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News