“The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) announced last week that they have rejected new contentions submitted by Clearwater against the re-licensing of Indian Point. In March Clearwater argued against the license renewal by Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, until a water safety study is done. Clearwater was acting on the pending application by United Water New York to build a desalination plant that will, if built, extract water from the Hudson River and provide municipal drinking water to Rockland County. The desalination plant would be located across the Hudson River, 3.5 miles downstream from the power plant. Clearwater’s concern is that the treatment plant is not equipped to effectively filter out radioactive isotopes that Indian Point regularly discharges into the Hudson River along with contaminants in Indian Point’s groundwater which are suspected of finding their way to the river as well.
The ASLB, three-judge panel said Clearwater’s arguments didn’t present new information and that “the issue involving the desalination plant will be encompassed by another contention from Clearwater that was admitted to the proceeding.”
The ASLB, who works in tandem with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), has been reviewing arguments, or contentions, against issuing a new operating license to Entergy who applied in 2007 to extend their license to keep Units 2 and 3 running 20 more years to 2033 and 2035.
Manna Jo Greene, environmental director at Clearwater said she wasn’t disappointed with the ASLB decision since it indicated that concerns about the water treatment plant would be looked at under a previous contention submitted by both the environmental group Riverkeeper and Clearwater. “It’s really a case of bad news and good news,” said Greene. “They are saying the proper place to look at how contaminated, radioactive water leaking under the plant and into the Hudson River would impact a water desalination plant is being addressed in an earlier contention. They left the door open.”
Earlier in the review process the board denied a request from Entergy to reconsider turning down a contention regarding impacts groundwater contamination from leaks at Indian Point and the possible effects on drinking water, especially if the source is the Hudson River.
Entergy spokesperson Jerry Nappi said the recent ASLB ruling speaks for itself. “This issue was already referenced in an earlier filing, and further, this contention will be encompassed by another contention that has already been admitted. Entergy looks forward to a thorough review by the ASLB and is working to provide them with any information they need in advance of future hearings.”
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the judges saw nothing “new and significant” in Clearwater’s contention. “As part of their consideration of that contention, the judges believe the issue of impacts on the river will also be addressed.”
Entergy’s license renewal application has elicited 154 contentions opposing the continued operation of the plant. According to the NRC it’s the largest number of contentions for a license renewal proceeding to date. Out of 154 contentions the ASLB has accepted 15 including contentions submitted by New York State Department of Conservation, the Attorney General’s office, Riverkeeper and Clearwater.”
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