Out last update was in August and is still available at www.ipsecinfo.org for those who wish to revisit history. Here is what has happened since then.
Riverkeeper and the State of New York won a major victory in appellate court when the judge ruled that Indian Point was not grandfathered in as Entergy claimed it was, but was, in fact, subject to the laws of the State of New York under the Clean Water Act. What this means is that the New York State, Department of State, Bureau of Ocean Management was upheld in denying Entergy an essential permit needed for operation of the reactors because the continued operation of the reactors is not in keeping with good coastal management. Thank you Riverkeeper and Attorney General Schneiderman.
The Bureau of Ocean Management has a comprehensive report which deals with how the continued operation of the reactors damages the Hudson River, fish stocks, and ground water. The same report outlines our surplus of electricity and details why our grid no longer needs the electricity from Indian Point. A summary of the report is available at http://tinyurl.com/coast-summary. The complete report is available at http://bit.ly/1Kf8iOY. There is an appeal process to the United States Secretary of Commerce and an appeal to federal court after that. Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter in New York’s ongoing drama of good coastal management.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has also denied Entergy a permit the corporation needs to dump heated water used to cool the reactors back into the river and radioactive discharges to the air. DEC is calling for Entergy to install closed cycle cooling as a condition of relicensing in order to reduce water use and fish mortality by 95%. Their authority is the Clean Water Act which gives New York State the right to regulate discharges into its rivers and air. An extensive appeals process is drawing to an end but there is no indication from DEC as to when information may be released.
Cuomo’s nuclear tax on every resident of New York was a surprising turn of events which was an unwarranted addition of Tier 3 to the NYS Clean Energy Plan. This tax will show up on the electricity bill of every New York resident and provide 7.2 billion dollars of subsidies to four failing upstate reactors which cannot make it in the market place. The underlying issue seems to be jobs, not electricity. The way the subsidy is written create worrying implications for Indian Point. It is entirely possible that under certain circumstances Entergy could sue to have Indian Point included in Tier 3 for an additional 2.8 billion dollars of profit for their stock holders. Environmental groups across the State have united to fight this subsidy. Clearwater, in conjunction with Goshen Green Farms is filing an Article 78 Petition against the Public Service Commission arguing that it acted improperly in ramming through the infamous Tier 3 in support of the reactors. Complete information is on the Clearwater website at http://tinyurl.com/nuclear-subsidy.
There are contentions still outstanding, most having to do with radioactive waste. These arguments to close the plant have been filed by Riverkeeper and the State of New York. The hearings for contentions are under the purview of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. The ASLB is a world unto itself and operates when the judges say so. It is rumored that hearings may be held in March of 2017. The judges are charged with rendering a verdict on relicensing and are expected to approve continued operation of the reactors. Once they have made their decision it goes to NRC staff and Commissioners who will surely concur with a decision to relicense. Appeal is to federal court.
The last significant development is defective baffle bolts. Baffle bolts are inside the reactor and hold up the shield that deflects water away from the fuel rods and keeps it circulating properly. Any problems, one might think, would be covered under the aegis of Managing Aging Equipment – one of the last areas allowed for challenging relicensing. However the industry had never considered the possibility of their failure. It was discovered because of a suit brought by Attorney General Schneiderman on a different matter. Entergy inspected the bolts in Unit 3 in order to show how safe they were. The results were not as expected. Replacing them was a lengthy, expensive process that closed the reactor for months. The NRC denied repeated calls for the baffle bolts at Unit 2 to be inspected, allowing Entergy to wait until the next scheduled outage. David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists has filed a 2.206 petition asserting that NRC has not met their obligation to adequately monitor these bolts and asking for an industry wide review. This has huge implications for reactors across the country and has caused the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s mouthpiece, to join the process claiming that none of this is necessary since each reactor can handle the problem with baffle bolts should it arise. Normally 2.206 petitions are dismissed out of hand by the NRC. The fact that this one was accepted is telling. Thank you David Lochbaum. For more information and a slide show of how these bolts work see http://allthingsnuclear.org/dlochbaum/indian-points-baffling-bolts.
Until all of these proceedings are concluded both Unit 2 and Unit 3 are allowed to continue to operate with expired licenses under NRC regulations which say that as long as the company filed for relicensing in a timely fashion, which they did, it can continue to operate until all litigation is over.
What can you do? Share this information with local officials and others. Entergy is the ultimate purveyor of fake news in our region and people need to know the documented truth. We do not need Indian Point. We have a surplus of electricity that is clearly laid out in the New York State Department of State, Bureau of Ocean Management report and confirmed by the most recent publication by the Independent System Operators who monitor our grid in their 2015 Reliability Report. When the reactors close, they will not even be missed.
For those who have not seen it yet, Indian Point, the film, is now available in DVD at http://firstrunfeatures.com/indianpointhv.html. Sponsor a screening, invite some neighbors and decision makers and have a discussion afterwards.
Save the date: Saturday, March 11, Fukushima to Indian Point: We Are All Connected. Walk with the Peace Walkers as Buddhist nun Jun san makes her annual pilgrimage to Indian Point starting from the Croton train Station at 10 AM and continuing on to the Peekskill Riverfront Green for a water ceremony with Maria Maybe of the Onondaga Nation. Following the ceremony there will be a program and potluck at the Peekskill Presbyterian Church. We hope to have a report back from Fukushima, Standing Rock and Split Rock Sweet Water Camp from people who were there.
High level radioactive waste remains the major problem at Fukushima as it is at Indian Point. There is no solution to the intractable problem of disposing of this deadly poison. We hope to host Dr. Gordon Edwards who has pioneered a system called Rolling Stewardship to manage high level radioactive waste. Details to follow.