Cuomo files brief; power plant's future up in the air

By John O'Brien | Jul 13, 2007


NEW YORK - New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo wants the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to reconsider its procedures for relicensing nuclear power plants and filed a brief Thursday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Specifically, Cuomo wants regulations that may help to deny the relicensing of Indian Point Power Plant because, among other things, it may be a terrorist target.

"This brief raises serious questions about the NRC relicensing process -- a process that ignores important factors about nuclear power plant safety and is stacked in favor of plant operators," Cuomo said.

Cuomo criticizes the NCR for focusing only on the age-related structural degradation of the non-moving components of a plant, like the reactor core, containment system, pipes and electrical cables. He would like to see the NCR review factors like:

-Location of the plant and local population density;

-Security and susceptibility to a terrorist attack;

-Acceptable emergency warning and evacuation plans;

-Geographic and seismic issues; and

-Demonstrated compliance with ongoing regulatory requirements.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal joined in the brief with Cuomo, who says new criteria could have an effect on the future of Indian Point Power Plant. Some want the plant, located on the Hudson River, shut down, while others claim such an act would put a strain on New York City's energy supply.

"Our brief reinforces a position I have long held -- New York needs to work toward an energy future without Indian Point," Cuomo said.

Under the current relicensing regulations, Cuomo says the NRC has granted approximately 48 license renewals without turning any down. The first-term Democrat says now is a good time to start.

"From its proximity to the most densely populated area in the United States, to its vulnerability to terrorist attacks, to the lack of an acceptable evacuation, Indian Point presents a vital threat to the safety of millions of New Yorkers and the residents of neighboring states," Cuomo said.

Cuomo is worried because the 9/11 Commission reported al-Qaeda terrorists contemplated attack nuclear plans with aircraft, and two of the hijacked planes flew over Indian Point.

The case is Andrew Spano, et al. v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

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