Indian Point Plant Safe, Japan Accident Unlikely, NRC Says

Entergy Corp. (ETR)’s Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York is safe and a U.S. accident similar to Japan’s atomic disaster is unlikely, federal officials told the state’s lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy.

“The robust design of U.S. plants makes it highly unlikely that a similar event could occur in the United States,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said today in an e-mail after meeting Duffy and other state officials.

The crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami should prompt the U.S. regulator to shut the Indian Point reactors, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said March 19. Indian Point is about 24 miles north of New York City.

While a report last year found “slightly higher seismic risk for the Indian Point reactor,” it was “still within safety margins,” the NRC said. After Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, the agency “will look to see if there may be any safety enhancements needed for a number of plants, including Indian Point.”

New York officials can join NRC officials at plant inspections and have access to the site’s seismic data, the agency said.

Duffy spokesman, David Doyle, didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail or e-mail seeking comment.

The two reactors at Entergy’s Indian Point plant began operating in 1974 and 1976, according to NRC data. The operating licenses are set to expire in 2013 and 2015, according to the NRC. Entergy has applied to extend the licenses for 20 years.

90-Day Review

The NRC, which says U.S. reactors are designed to withstand earthquakes, tsunamis and natural disasters, announced yesterday a 90-day review of U.S. plant safety in light of Japan’s crisis. An initial report will be released after 30 days, the NRC said.

The agency granted a 20-year license extension yesterday to Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vermont. The decision was based on reviews completed before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Lomax in Washington at slomax@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Geimann at sgeimann@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.