Entergy can’t renew its licence without the water quality certification
Indian Point’s two operating reactors, which supply 30% of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County, face the risk of being shut down unless their operator spends hundreds of millions of dollars to build new cooling towers.
The cooling systems of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York “do not and will not comply with existing New York State water quality standards”, said the New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation on April 2.
The ruling said the plant’s two units, which kill close to one billion aquatic organisms a year and use 2.5 billion gallons of water a day, violate state law and the federal Clean Water Act.
The New York State stressed this even after considering two situations wherein the cooling systems would either be operated as they have been for decades or modified under a proposal by Entergy Corp, which operates the Indian Point nuclear power plant.
An Entergy spokesman told The New York Times that converting Indian Point’s cooling system would cost $1.1 billion and require the company to shut down its reactors for 42 weeks.
Efforts by New Orleansbased Entergy to renew its licence to operate the plant for another 20 years have suffered a setback following the denial of its request for a water-quality certification by the New York State.
A water quality certificate would run concurrently with the licence extension that Entergy is seeking from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
This means that Entergy would be forced to build new cooling towers, according to The Times, which added that officials of Entergy said they were “disappointed” in the ruling and might submit an appeal.
Diane Screnci, spokeswoman for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told the newspaper that a prolonged appeal could delay a shutdown.
In March, the New York Public Service Commission rejected Entergy’s plan to spin off three nuclear power plants in the state to a new company, Enexus Energy Corp, saying this ran counter to public interest.
Critics said a disaster at Indian Point, which is located about 64 kilometres north of Manhattan, could threaten the safety of millions of people.
The original federal licences for Indian Point Units 2 and 3 expire in September 2013 and December 2015, respectively; their respective licence was issued in 1973 and 1976. Unit 1 was shut down in 1974.