NRC says AIM pipeline near Indian Point causes no danger

BUCHANAN – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced its findings of the 2019 performance assessment for Indian Point Unit 2 and 3, Tuesday evening, during a virtual public hearing and deemed both units are operating within Green specifications and the nearby pipeline is not a danger to the plant.

Unit 2 was permanently shut down in April of this year, with plans to transfer licensing and shut down Unit 3 on April 30th of 2021.

A number of assessments were done to ensure the safety of the plant, most notably those to determine whether the nearby AIM Pipeline could cause a significant event. Hazards from pipe ruptures were focused on, including the resulting jet fires, vapor cloud explosions, flash fires, and missile debris, which were deemed to be unlikely, or not a danger to the plant itself. 

David Skeen, who was the team lead on expert evaluations of pipelines near Indian Point, said stronger pipe insulation requirements, depth in ground of pipes, corrosive protections, evaluation of all welds on pipes, and high-stress leak/pressure test led to the determination that the pipeline does not cause an imminent danger.

“Our bottom line was that after all the review that we did, the Indian Point plant remains safe,” said Skeen. “A rupture of the 42-inch pipeline near Indian Point is unlikely to occur and if such an unlikely event does occur and there is a rupture, then the nuclear power plant and the storage mutual would be protected,” he said.

Members of the public and environmental organizations; however, raised a majority of their questions about the current licensing evaluation transfer from Entergy to Holtec International. A common sentiment of distrust for Holtec, possible criminal inquires and a lawsuit with the state of New Jersey regarding tax exemption payments and a request from the company to use a substantial amount of trust fund monies for spent-fuel storage raised questions of Holtec’s competency to assume the license.

NRC panelists did not address concerns regarding Holtec’s issues or its current suit in New Jersey, but NRC Project Manager for Coordination of Licensing and Technical Review Richard Guzman said the NRC will not approve the exemption for Holtec at this time.

“We would not be able to approve an exemption request submitted by Holtec, the applicant in this case for the proposed use of that partial decommissioning trust fund until a license transfer is approved,” said Guzman.

The slide presentation used at Tuesday’s hearing is available to the public on the NRC’s website and the NRC maintains they will present their decision on the relicensing in November or early December of this year. 

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