Lengthy Indian Point license renewal application process continues at public hearing

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TARRYTOWN – The Indian
Point Nuclear power planta, owned and operated by Entergy, are currently
under review by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel pending the
renewal of their operating licenses for the next 20 years. The hearing,
held Monday afternoon in Tarrytown, was the second regarding contentions
to Indian Point’s continued operation.

Three NRC administrative judges, accompanied by staff, conducted the hearing

Indian Point’s initial 40-year license expired two years ago.
Entergy submitted their request for a 20-year license renewal in 2007.   Since then, approximately 18 contentions, submitted by outside parties, have been taken under account by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel. Much of the renewal review process is based on concerns provided in writing. The purpose of Monday’s hearing was to have the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel judges and expert witnesses, deliberate on the contentions that were previously submitted in writing.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said the hearing was focused on three contentions, all regarding the longevity of certain reactor components.
“These plants came online in the 70s; they’re now looking for a license extension where they take them out for another 20 years,” said Sheehan. “How do they make sure that these reactor vessels, as they are bombarded with neutrons over many decades of operation, continue to have that metal stability, the metal integrity, that would allow them to operate for this continued amount of time.  So, that’s one of the contentions; there were two others. All are focused on aging management, in other words, what is being done to make sure that these key systems, components, will hold up during an additional period of operation.”  
Sheehan said that when Entergy’s application was submitted in 2007, opening the door for concerned parties to send in contentions, they became flooded with them but, many have been resolved already.
“We received dozens of contentions at that point. They came from New York State, from Riverkeeper, from another organization called Clearwater and from others,” said Sheehan. “Eventually, the judges winnowed that down; they looked at whether they met the appropriate criteria, that list was winnowed down and eventually, 15 of those contentions were actually examined during the hearing and they were resolved. There are now these three contentions and then there are two others that are on appeal.”
Jerry Kremer of pro-Indian Point group New York AREA spoke in favor of relicensing the plants.
“This facility is not only important to the economy of the region,
but also critical to the power to keep the lights on,” Kremer said.
Currently, Indian Point is the only one of the four nuclear power plants in the state not to have been cleared for continued operation. Sheehan said that the Indian Point review has been, by far, the most comprehensive and intensive review taken on by the NRC.
Since the NRC is still updating key documents and because this review is particularly important due to Indian Point’s circumstances, there still may be future hearings on contentions that have not been addressed yet. Sheehan said the next step is for the judges to come to a conclusion which he said will typically take a few months.