At the Crossroads
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The environmental assessment reviews the effects an extended license would have on endangered species, the effects of cooling water systems on fish and ground water quality. The safety review makes sure there is a plan in place to maintain all physical structures and systems whose aging could affect safety.
Public hearings are held to inform the public and get its input (public meeting notices are posted on the NRC’s website at www.nrc.gov), and the public can petition the NRC to consider issues other than those within its narrow scope. When the review is completed, the NRC publishes its assessment and recommendation; the whole process takes about 30 months.
In May 2005, Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano petitioned the NRC to amend the rules for license renewal of all nuclear power plants. The petition would mandate the NRC to only relicense plants that meet all the requirements they would have to meet if applying for their initial operating license, and to evaluate conditions that have changed since the building of the plants, as well as worst-case scenarios. Spano’s petition is currently being reviewed by NRC staff and a decision probably won’t be issued before January 2007.
In June 2005, Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) introduced legislation into the House to reform the NRC’s relicensing process so that any renewal must meet the same criteria as an initial application to operate. Unfortunately, Lowey’s legislation has been stalled in the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality since last July.
To further pressure the NRC, legislation was sent to both the House of Representatives and the Senate this past spring requiring the NRC to conduct an Independent Safety Assessment (ISA) of Indian Point. This would compel the NRC to conduct an in-depth investigation into the design, construction, maintenance and safety performance of Indian Point’s reactors; evaluate its evacuation plan; and address the criticisms of the emergency plan raised in the January 2003 review of the plant done by former FEMA head James Lee Witt. In March, the House bill was referred to the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, but hopefully it will be brought to the floor for consideration before Congress adjourns this month.
Over 400 elected officials have called for Indian Point’s closure. To date, 59 municipalities, including five counties have passed resolutions opposing Indian Point’s relicensing. If Indian Point’s reactors are not relicensed, they will be shut down.
Indian Point is at a crossroads, so the time to act is now! If you want to prevent Indian Point from operating for another 20 years, visit Riverkeeper at www.riverkeeper.org and sign the petition against relicensing. Visit the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition at www.ipsecinfo.org to sign a petition calling for the closure of Indian Point. Call and write your representatives in Congress to let them know that you support the legislation calling for an ISA. To contact your representatives, visit www.visi.com/juan/congress/index.html.