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Indian Point Should Review Accident Impact Plans, Board Says

Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point nuclear-power plant near New York City can’t be relicensed until the company provides a more thorough analysis of the facility’s measures to mitigate accidents, regulators said.

Entergy, based in New Orleans, must complete an analysis of cost-effective ways to lessen the environmental impact of a severe accident, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled yesterday. The board agreed with the State of New York’s challenge in January that Entergy’s analysis and the NRC’s review of it were inadequate.

“We find that the NRC staff has prematurely concluded its review before receiving all the requisite information from Entergy,” the licensing board said in its 18-page decision.

Indian Point, located about 35 miles (56 kilometers) from midtown Manhattan, has two reactors with licenses that expire in 2013 and 2015. Entergy has asked the NRC to renew the licenses for an additional 20 years. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said the plant is too close to the city and should be closed.

“We will not permit the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy to procrastinate or limit the relicensing review with the hope that full responsibility for protective measures can be avoided,” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement today.

The NRC must either approve Entergy’s completed analysis or provide a “valid reason” for not doing so, NRC licensing board said its decision.

Entergy’s Comment

“We’re still studying the order, so we can’t really comment,” Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy, said in a phone interview. “We support efforts by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board and the NRC to review and ultimately implement NRC-required safety enhancements.”

“This is one piece of a larger proceeding,” to renew the plant’s licenses, Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the NRC, said in a phone interview. There are multiple challenges to Indian Point’s license renewal, he said.

An NRC task force on July 12 provided commissioners with its report on safety conditions at U.S. reactors, following Japan’s nuclear disaster. An earthquake and tsunami caused a partial meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant north of the Japanese capital.

The agency should adopt new regulations to bolster the safety of nuclear power plants, the panel said.

“It’s quite possible that the NRC may become less flexible with nuclear-plant operators following Fukushima,” Paul Patterson, a utility analyst at Glenrock Associates LLC in New York, said in an interview.

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