Democrats to nuclear utility - "drop dead"
[Updates 12/05/07, 12/27/07]
There's some bunk and some complicated politics going on in New York state over the relicensing of the Indian Point nuclear plant. Governor Elliot Spitzer wants to shut down the Indian Point nuclear plant. The New York Times has coverage this week. Here are some highlights and also some reactions from nuclear blogs around the country.
Highlights of NY Times coverage
New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo said this week that the state had asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to deny an application to extend the license of the Indian Point nuclear reactors, citing “a long and troubling history of problems.” Mr. Cuomo, flanked by Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson and members of the Congressional delegation at a news conference, claimed that the nuclear plant, in densely populated Westchester County, could not be defended from a terrorist attack and that the surrounding area could not be evacuated if a major accident occurred. The state filed a 313-page petition on behalf of Mr. Cuomo and Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
The state also contends that the application to extend the plant’s license for 20 more years, which was filed on April 30 by the plant’s owner, Entergy Nuclear, failed to account for pipes, cables and fire-protection systems that have deteriorated at the nuclear reactors, which began operation in the mid-’70s.
Officials of the N.R.C. could not recall a previous occasion when a state had tried to intervene in a license-extension proceeding to block the extension. New York State owned Indian Point 3 from 1975 until 2000.
Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy, said the company had invested hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade equipment at the plant since it bought the two reactors. He said that the company was prepared to prove to federal regulators that the equipment still worked properly.* * *
A three-judge panel appointed by the N.R.C. is expected to rule within the next several weeks whether New York State can intervene in the relicensing application and whether the issues it has raised should be considered. Entergy applied for a 20-year extension of the original 40-year licenses on April 30. The commission, which has granted about two dozen 20-year extensions around the country, has established a goal of ruling on applications within 22 months if there is no hearing, or within 30 months if there is one. The license for the Indian Point 2 reactor expires in 2013, and Indian Point 3’s license ends in 2015. But the licenses have been automatically extended until the commission issues its ruling. Indian Point 1 closed in 1974.
To sort things out point your web browser to the Nuclear Energy Institute Blog for updates. Here's a set of links to read up on your lunch hour. All of these links are on the NEI BlogOfficial NEI Statement
“The position taken today by the governor and the attorney general pre-judges the facts concerning the Indian Point license renewal application.
Ruth Sponsler (We Support Lee)
Cuomo, Spitzer, and Spano have no responsible plan to replace Indian Point's electricity. They are trying to make a divisive political issue out of a facility that has been operating safely for a number of years. They are also demonstrating a glaring ignorance and refusal to address the issue of fossil fuel emissions and all their ramifications from asthma to climate change.Rod Adams (Atomic Insights)
If they are successful, natural gas suppliers in the Northeast will be loving life - Indian Point has a capacity of 2200 MWe. It has been running at an average annual capacity factor of about 93%. If that power is replaced by very efficient gas turbine combined cycle plants running at an average heat rate of 7,000 BTU per kilowatt hour, and if the price of natural gas is a well behaved $7.00 per million BTU, it will cost New York residents about $900 million per year to pay for the fuel for the yet to be built plants.
So the Democrats think that the cost of energy is too high and there solution is to further restrict supply? We need to be building more nuclear plants and making sure that the ones we have are run properly not shutting them down. This is just another example of how unserious Democrats are about energy policies.
The New York Times, which reported on the initiative by New York's governor, had an editorial today on the issue. While arguing the case for post 9/11 security issues related to nuclear power plants, the Times also had this observation, coincidentally made here on this blog yesterday.The state has an obligation to explain what it would do about the 2,000 megawatts of electricity that would be lost if the plant closed. Its solution must not compromise New York’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases in the region. Replacing one potential menace with another — like an environmentally dirtier and costly natural-gas plant — would be a bad outcome.
What a novel idea! Cheap politicians cannot make hay with base load demand just to feed the numbers in their re-election polls.
The NRC issued a press release today highlighting its continuing oversight of the Indian Point nuclear plant. Federal agencies are usually quiet during the holiday season, especially between Christmas and New Year's Day, so it's likely the NRC wants the news media to notice it is on the job at Indian Point amidst all the hoopla from the State of New York. Here's what the NRC had to say.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will continue to conduct additional inspections at the Indian Point nuclear power plant throughout 2008 to ensure issues associated with on-site groundwater contamination and the facility’s new siren system are being properly addressed. Entergy Nuclear operates Indian Point, which is located in Buchanan (Westchester County), N.Y.
That's it. The rest is hopelessly arcane bureaucratic language about why NRC is doing this. Bottom line with four resident inspectors at the plant, you'd think Governor Spitzer would know the NRC has a presence there. Maybe that's too politically inconvenient so the NRC decided to kick it up a knotch. Go for it.