NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Tuesday that the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted a petition for fire safety enforcement at a Buchanan, N.Y.-based nuclear power plant.
Schneiderman filed the petition over Indian Point's alleged failure to comply with federal fire safety regulations established to keep power plants secure in an emergency. The NRC will now consider action to compel the power plant to meet critical fire safety requirements that could enhance fire safety enforcement at nuclear facilities across the country, Schneiderman says.
"If Indian Point is vulnerable, so too are the tens of millions of people who live and work in the communities that surround it," Schneiderman said. "My office has zero tolerance for violations that put New Yorkers at risk and will continue to take all necessary action to ensure the facility meets the safety requirements. I will continue my efforts to ensure the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission does the same."
Schneiderman filed the petition on March 28, arguing that compliance with fire safety requirements was essential to ensure the facility could shut down safely during and after an emergency. According to Schneiderman's office, the NRC rarely accepts such petitions, and, as a result, the review of Indian Point could strengthen enforcement of fire safety regulations at nuclear power plants worldwide.
Indian Point allegedly violated established fire safety regulations and is seeking approval from the NRC for more than 100 exemptions. The reactors of the plant are located at the center of a 50 mile radius where over 20 million people live, work and travel.
Schneiderman's petition seeks enforcement on a number of fire safety requirements that Indian Point has allegedly violated for years, including failing to install required fire detectors or fire suppression systems in various locations, not sufficiently separating electrical cables from one another to ensure that a fire would not damage both the primary and back up cables that control important safety systems, not strengthening electrical cables to withstand fire damage for one-to-three hours, and relying on employees to perform a series of manual actions as opposed to installing automatic response systems.
In February, Schneiderman sued the NRC for authorizing the storage of radioactive waste at nuclear power facilities for at least 60 years after they close without first conducting the necessary public health, environmental and safety studies. The lawsuit was filed just one month before spent fuel threatened Japanese emergency response efforts at the Fukushima nuclear facility.
Schneiderman recently jointed a petition urging the NRC to reexamine operating limitations at the aging Indian Point reactors, lowering the operating temperatures to increase safety and reduce meltdown risk.