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Riverkeeper Announces Major Victories in Battle Against Indian Point

Indian Point

Photo credit: John Lipscomb
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Indian Point’s owner Entergy Corporation dealt two significant blows by New York State regulators

First, on April 2, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied a critical water quality certification required before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can relicense the nuclear plant. The DEC determined that the continued use of Indian Point’s antiquated once-through cooling system violates state standards, because it withdraws and discharges about 2.5 billion gallons of river water a day and causes the death of almost 1 billion aquatic organisms per year due to entrainment, impingement, and heat related, or thermal, impacts. The state also commented on the impact of radioactive water leaks on the Hudson, and the impingement or crushing of endangered shortnose sturgeon against the cooling water intakes as additional reasons for the denial.

Since its inception in 1966, Riverkeeper, together with our partners Scenic Hudson and NRDC, has been fighting to force Indian Point to upgrade to a closed-loop cooling system to protect Hudson River fisheries. Last month, we submitted formal comments urging the DEC to deny the certification based largely on the impacts cited in the DEC decision. DEC’s denial of this certification makes it very difficult for Entergy to continue avoiding its legal obligation under the Clean Water Act – retrofitting to a closed loop system would reduce the impact on Hudson River fisheries by 95%.

Second, in late March, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) rejected a proposal submitted by Entergy Corporation and its subsidiaries to spin-off six nuclear power plants, including three in New York, to a new business entity, Enexus Energy Corporation. Riverkeeper intervened in opposition to Entergy’s spin-off plan in 2008, citing concerns with Enexus’ ability to safely operate and decommission Indian Point. In particular, we argued that Enexus’ excessive indebtedness would render it financially unable to meet future financial obligations regarding the installation of environmentally-friendly closed-cycle cooling and the cleanup of radioactively contaminated groundwater under the reactors. On April 5, Entergy publicly announced its plans to scrap the corporate spin-off.

These rulings put us closer to realizing a future without Indian Point and send an important message that the days of reaping enormous economic benefits at the expense of the environment are coming to an end. But despite these major successes, Riverkeeper still needs your support for the Indian Point Campaign. We anticipate that Entergy will appeal the State’s denial of the water quality certification. And, we must continue to prepare for a major hearing in front of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Entergy’s application to renew Indian Point’s operating licenses for another twenty years. Your support of our work is critical and will help make future victories in the campaign possible.

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