New York sues NRC over Indian Point decommissioning

January 26, 2021, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions

Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y. Photo: Entergy Nuclear

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on behalf of the State of New York against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the sale of the Indian Point nuclear power plant to subsidiaries of Holtec International for decommissioning.

Filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on January 22, the suit challenges the NRC’s denial of New York’s petition for a hearing regarding the transfer of Indian Point’s licenses from owner Entergy to Holtec, as well as the NRC’s initial approval of the license transfer. The NRC approved the transfer in November 2020 while challenges from the state and other groups were still being adjudicated. The NRC issued its order denying New York’s petition to intervene on January 15.

The transfer of ownership of the plant from Entergy to Holtec is targeted to occur after Indian Point-3 shuts down in April 2021. Indian Point-2 permanently ceased operations in April 2020, and Indian Point-1 has been shut down since 1974. The pressurized-water reactors are located in Buchanan, N.Y., approximately 24 miles north of New York City.

Spent fuel costs: In its lawsuit, New York also challenges the NRC’s approval of license exemptions allowing Holtec to use money from Indian Point’s decommissioning trust funds for the management of the plant’s spent nuclear fuel.

“Of the approximately $2.1 billion of aggregated trust funds intended to decommission the facility, Holtec intends to spend more than $630 million for spent fuel management alone, raising concerns regarding the sufficiency of the remaining funds to conduct safe and comprehensive decommissioning at a site known to harbor substantial contamination,” a press release from Attorney General James states.

As a result of the Department of Energy’s breach of the Standard Contract for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and/or High-Level Radioactive Waste, owners of commercial nuclear power plants can recover spent fuel management costs from the federal government, a point the NRC raised in its denial of New York’s petition to intervene.

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