Cuomo Seeks Meeting With NRC About Indian Point Safety

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Lieutenant Governor Robert McDuffy and other state officials will meet with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss how safe Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point nuclear-power plant, located north of New York City, would be in an earthquake.

Cuomo earlier this week expressed surprise at reports that the Indian Point plant, which opened in 1962, was the most vulnerable to an earthquake of all U.S. nuclear facilities. Regulators have been concerned after Japan’s struggles to avert a disaster at a power plant crippled last week by a tsunami and the 9.0 magnitude temblor off the northeastern coast.

The gathering on March 22 was set up by the White House at Cuomo’s request, the governor’s office said in an e-mailed statement. It will include Howard Glaser, director of New York state operations, the statement said.

The meeting is intended to determine Indian Point’s earthquake vulnerabilities, preparedness and risk assessment, according to the statement. Rich Bamberger, a spokesman for the governor, could not immediately say where the meeting would be held.

The reactors, located about 24 miles (38 kilometers) from New York City, supply 25 percent of the power used by the city and suburban Westchester County. They are designed to withstand at least a magnitude 6 earthquake, said Jerry Nappi, a plant spokesman. A magnitude 7 earthquake in the region is possible, based on the features of the two faults, according to scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

‘Should be Closed’

Cuomo said in a March 16 press conference in Albany that while he was New York’s attorney general, he’d concluded Indian Point shouldn’t have been issued a new license and “should be closed.”

An emergency plan for the evacuation of about 320,000 people within a 10-mile radius of the plant is evaluated every two years by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to Nappi. The plan was approved last year.

“You cannot move that many people in the amount of time required because there aren’t that many roads,” said Paul Gallay, executive director of Riverkeeper Inc., an environmental watchdog group based in Ossining, New York, that says the evacuation plan isn’t adequate.

Separately, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been aware of a leak in the liner of a refueling cavity at Indian Point since 1993 and yet allowed the plant to continue operating, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The liner was installed to prevent leaking of radioactive material during an earthquake and the chances of that equipment fulfilling its safety function is “nil,” the report said.

“We believe Indian Point is capable of withstanding the most significant historical earthquake for that area,” said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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