Court rules against Entergy on Indian Point licence renewal

23 November 2016

New York State's Court of Appeals has ruled that part of Entergy's application to renew the operating licences for the Indian Point nuclear plant must be reviewed at the state level. The New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) has already concluded that the application is inconsistent with its coastal management requirements.

Indian Point 370 (Entergy)
Indian Point (Image: Entergy)

The court's 21 November ruling reverses an earlier decision by the lower Appellate Division court that Entergy Nuclear Operation's application was exempt from review by the NYSDOS.

The USA's federal Coastal Zone Management Act allows a state agency to object to the granting of a nuclear operating licence if the facility is inconsistent with the state's coastal management program. Such an objection, unless overturned by a court or the US Secretary of Commerce, prohibits the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from renewing the plant's licence.

The NYSDOS issued an objection to Indian Point's coastal certification in November 2015. Entergy Nuclear Operations subsequently filed a lawsuit questioning the validity of the NYSDOS decision, arguing that it was based on nuclear safety concerns beyond the state's regulatory remit.

State governor Andrew Cuomo said the NYSDOS had already concluded the Indian Point relicensing application was "inconsistent" with the state's Coastal Management Program requirements. He said Indian Point was "antiquated" and did not "belong" on the Hudson River in close proximity to New York City.

Entergy's Indian Point is home to two pressurized water reactors - Indian Point 2 and 3 - that have been in operation since the mid-1970s. Entergy applied to the NRC for a 20-year renewal for the licences of both units in April 2007, a process which typically takes up to about 30 months to complete if a hearing is granted. However, this has taken much longer than expected for Indian Point because of the number of issues raised by various parties during the adjudicatory process.

Both units' 40-year operating licences have passed their expiry dates - unit 2's in September 2013 and unit 3's in December 2015 - but the plants are allowed to continue to operate until the NRC's review of the licence request is completed.

New York State earlier this year passed legislation explicitly recognising the zero-carbon attributes of nuclear generation and providing a support mechanism for so-called upstate nuclear power plants at risk of premature closure for economic reasons. The legislation does not include Indian Point, which is located only 24 miles (39 kilometres) from New York City.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News