Federal officials are calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to conduct a public hearing before approving the pending transfer of a license for the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representatives Eliot Engel and Sean Patrick Maloney recently sent a letter to the NRC Commission urging the body not to move forward with the application submitted by Entergy, current owners of the plants, and Holtec Decommissioning International, in November 2019.
The lawmakers described the publicly declared intentions of the NRC to grant the license “deeply disturbing” since during the last eight months the NRC has failed to act on the petitions of New York State, the Town of Cortlandt and the Village of Buchanan to intervene in the process.
“We now face the prospect that the decision by NRC staff to transfer the plant’s license and grant regulatory exemptions may well be made before the various stakeholders representing the communities surrounding Indian Point have had an opportunity to fully present its contentions to the Commission in a hearing,” the lawmakers stated. “Such an outcome would be wholly unacceptable to our constituents in the Lower Hudson Valley. Industry-driven timelines cannot, and should not, come before their health and safety and relevant economic concerns are duly considered.”
In January 2017, Entergy, which purchased the Indian Point nuclear power plants more than 16 years ago, announced, to the complete surprise of local leaders, its plan for the early and orderly shutdown of the Indian Point by April 30, 2021 as part of a settlement with New York State and Riverkeeper.
Since that time, local leaders have been putting their heads together in an effort to plan for the financial hit municipalities, the Hendrick Hudson School District and other entities will suffer after the $32 million revenue stream from Indian Point runs dry.
Once Indian Point is completely shut down in 2021. Holtec would then carry out all of the activities to decommission the plant, store the spent nuclear fuel, and restore the 240-acre site to its original condition.
During a virtual visit with the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce November 5, Joe Delmar, senior director of government affairs and communications with Holtec International, said 300 current Entergy employees will be working with Holtec during the decommissioning, which is expected to be completed in 15 years.
“The real focus is for us to do this job right and safely,” Delmar said. “We take a lot of pride in protecting public health and safety.”
Holtec has been in charge of handling the spent fuel at Indian Point for the last three decades. Delmar noted the spent fuel rods will remain on site until they are transferred to the Department of Energy or to an offsite interim storage facility.
At a recent Indian Point Community Advisory Panel meeting, Joe Lynch, director of government affairs/decommissioning with Entergy, said 125 additional casks are required to hold all the spent nuclear rods generated from the Indian Point plants.
There is currently $2.3 billion in a Indian Point Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund.