Entergy Corp. should shut the Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City instead of continuing to fight local officials who oppose the facility, the former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.
“The best solution is to sit down with all the interested stakeholders and think about a way to shut down the plant on a reasonable time frame,” Greg Jaczko said at a panel discussion in New York today on the lessons of Japan’s Fukushima meltdown. “When you have this much local opposition and opposition from state government, what I’ve seen over time is that it’s very difficult to operate plants.”
Entergy is seeking permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating life of Indian Point, a two-unit nuclear plant located about 24 miles (39 kilometers) north of the most populated U.S. city. The plant generates about 25 percent of the power used in New York City and Westchester County, according to New Orleans-based Entergy.
State officials and environmental groups are fighting the 20-year license renewal. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said Indian Point should be closed because it isn’t feasible to evacuate about 20 million residents of the metropolitan area in the event of an accident.
“Indian Point is a safe plant that gets excellent safety ratings from the NRC, including while under the former chairman,” Entergy said today in an e-mailed statement. “The plant is regularly examined to identify enhancements to make it even safer, including using lessons learned from Fukushima, and many have either been completed or are under way.”
The company announced in August it would shut its Vermont Yankee reactor, which has faced years of opposition from state officials, because of low power prices.
“The best option is to work out and negotiate a settlement and come to some sort of agreement to shut it down rather than this very expensive and very contentious and acrimonious process,” Jaczko said in an interview after his speech. “That is never a good way to resolve these issues.”
Supporters of the plant say it provides safe power without producing greenhouse gases.
“Nearly $1 billion has been invested in Indian Point over the past decade, making it a world-class facility,” Jerry Kremer, chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, said in a statement today. “Indian Point makes the region a cleaner, safer place to live.”
The alliance’s board includes an Entergy executive, union representatives and members of local business councils, according to its website.
Jaczko said in a December 2011 interview with Bloomberg News that a Fukushima-like disaster at Indian Point would still allow for the safe evacuation of the New York City area because a crisis would unfold slowly.
Jaczko, 42, resigned from the commission in 2012, leaving his position almost a year before his term expired after being faulted by other commissioners and the agency inspector general for what they called a bullying management style.
Today’s event included former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and political activist Ralph Nader and was moderated by the president of Riverkeeper Inc., a group that opposes Indian Point.
Kan, who served as Japan’s prime minister from 2010 to 2011, said at the event that the world should close all nuclear power reactors and use renewable sources to meet its energy needs.