NRC calls for re-evaluation of Indian Point data

05 May 2016

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has instructed its staff to re-evaluate aspects of a severe accident mitigation analysis under an application to renew the operating licence of Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant, reversing an earlier ruling.

Indian Point (Image: NRC/Entergy)

The NRC commissioners' decision was made after the state of New York petitioned for the review of a partial initial decision by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB), made in 2013, on the grounds that Entergy's severe accident mitigation alternatives (SAMA) for Indian Point units 2 and 3 did not accurately reflect decontamination and clean-up costs associated with a severe accident at the plant.

The NRC ruling reverses the earlier ASLB ruling as it relates to certain input values used in modelling the simulated accident scenarios, which NRC staff will now re-evaluate.

Indian Point 2 and 3 are pressurized water reactors 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. In Indian Point's case, however, a large number of issues have been raised by various parties during the adjudicatory process and the hearing has taken longer than expected. Both units are allowed to operate under their existing licences, which would have expired in 2013 for unit 2 and 2015 for unit 3, until the NRC's review of the licence request is completed.

New York state governor Andrew Cuomo said that the commissioners' decision reaffirmed the state administration's "long-standing position that the aging nuclear power plant needs to be retired." He said that his administration would work "closely" with NRC staff and continue to monitor Indian Point's daily operations "to ensure that a proper analysis is done regarding any unacceptable dangers to ensure that the public is protected at all times."

Earlier this year the State of New York Public Service Commission ruled that non-carbon-emitting generation resources including nuclear power plants must be included in the state's Clean Energy Standard portfolio, with a support mechanism to be put in place for so-called upstate nuclear power plants that are at risk of closure for economic reasons. The Indian Point reactors, which are located 24 miles from New York City, are not included.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News