Entergy has criticized a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposal - aimed at protecting fish in the Hudson River - that would require simultaneous annual outages at both of its Indian Point nuclear power units.
|Indian Point has two units in operation (Image: Entergy)
Entergy is currently seeking a 20-year licence renewal for Indian Point. Although US nuclear plants are licensed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the DEC has a say in a nuclear facility's operation because it issues State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.
DEC has proposed shutting down the plant during the period 10 May and 10 August each year to coincide with the presence of migrating or spawning fish in the river. The proposal would see outages at the units for 42, 62 or 92 days, or a combination of a cooling tower at one unit and permanent outages at the other unit.
"Forcing Indian Point to shut down every summer poses serious consequences to human health and safety, the New York economy, and the local environment while failing to guarantee any measurable benefit to an already healthy fish population," Fred Dacimo, vice president of licence renewal for Entergy Nuclear Operations, said.
Dacimo spoke at a public hearing held on 22 July relating to the New York State DEC staff's proposal. Entergy published his comments the same day.
During his testimony, Dacimo said Indian Point is fully protective of the Hudson River ecosystem and operates in accordance with its state and federal permits. He said unnecessary forced summertime outages could lead to more pollution resulting from the need to replace Indian Point's emissions-free energy with fossil fuels; more expensive power, as Indian Point’s lower cost power is taken off the market; and an increased chance of brownouts or even blackouts if Indian Point were turned off when demand is highest.
"All of these impacts might be worth considering if outages at Indian Point were necessary to protect fish eggs and larvae, but they are not," he said.
DEC has proposed the outages as an alternative to its preference that Entergy introduce a closed-cycle cooling system at the plant. Entergy has instead proposed the use of wedgewire screening.
Trade, business and public organisations signed a letter, dated 17 July, to New York State DEC's commissioner Joseph Martens that outlined their concerns about the proposed policy toward Indian Point, which DEC announced on 21 May. The letter's 21 signatories included the New York State director of the National Federation of Independent Business and the chief executive of Hudson Valley Hospital.
"It is notable," the letter said, "that the National Marine Fisheries Service has found that Indian Point’s operation during the 20-year licence renewal period is not likely to jeopardize fish populations. Furthermore, the year-round, wedgewire screening that Entergy has proposed would address the concerns about the loss of fish, fish eggs and larvae more effectively than the forced outages proposal or cooling towers.
"As wedgewire screens can be promptly installed, this would allow Indian Point to continue to operate year round and provide Westchester County and New York City with 25% of their electricity," it said.
Indian Point operates in a manner that is fully protective of the Hudson River ecosystem and pursuant to its state and federal permits and law, Entergy spokeswoman Patricia Kakridas told World Nuclear News on 23 July.
"There is no credible science that Indian Point damages fish populations, or that either of the DEC staff's proposals – cooling towers, forced outages or some combination of the two – would result in more fish in the Hudson River," Kakridas said.
Entergy strongly disagrees with the DEC staff's proposal on the need for cooling towers at the plant, she said.
"Our position is that cooling towers are impractical, ineffective, unsightly and possibly dangerous. The cooling towers which would need to be constructed for a major baseload facility like Indian Point are massive, stadium-sized structures that would take 15 years and billions of dollars to construct and would have an unprecedented negative impact on the scenic coastline of Hudson Valley.
"No existing nuclear facility like Indian Point has ever been retrofitted with cooling towers because retrofitting is an unprecedented engineering, construction and permitting feat – requiring almost daily blasting for four straight years. This means that DEC Staff is asking Indian Point to do what no nuclear facility ever has done – or should do," she said.
By "blasting", Kakridas was referring to the fact that the area where the cooling towers would be constructed is covered in bedrock. The excavation process would involve blasting through the bedrock in order to break it down so that towers could be constructed.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News