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State hearings on Indian Point begin today

For Immediate Release: September 14, 2015
Contact: Cliff Weathers, Communications Director
Office: 914-478-4501, Ext 239
Cell: 845-445-8257
Email: [email protected]

State hearings on Indian Point begin today

Proceedings will address proposals to impose seasonal shutdowns to help protect Hudson River fish.

More than a billion aquatic organisms are killed every year.

Albany, N.Y. — Administrative law judges for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation will hear arguments today on whether Entergy is entitled to the Clean Water permits it must obtain from the state to continue operating the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The judges will consider testimony on the impact of the nuclear plant’s once-through cooling system, which kills billions of aquatic organisms every year.

The hearings, expected to last three weeks, will address the separate DEC Staff and Riverkeeper proposals to impose seasonal shutdowns at Indian Point — either on an interim basis or a permanent annual basis — to help protect fish. The state and Riverkeeper agree that by shutting the plant down during spawning season, much of the plant’s harm to aquatic species could be reduced. Supported by its expert witness, Dr. Peter A. Henderson, Riverkeeper will show that annual outages are designed to protect fish in the early stage of life, including species whose populations are vanishing from the Hudson River, such as river herring, American shad, white perch, and Atlantic tomcod.

Interim outages would serve to protect aquatic resources during the construction of cooling towers at Indian Point, the technology preferred by both DEC Staff and Riverkeeper. If cooling towers are found to infeasible (as Entergy has argued), then the permanent seasonal outages would provide a viable and effective alternative to retrofitting Indian Point (in whole or in part) with cooling towers.

Outages at Indian Point are not new. During the 1980s, the nuclear plant annually shuttered one of its two units in order to protect Hudson River fish species. Indian Point also frequently experiences unplanned outages. This year alone, Entergy has had to shut down one of its two units a number of times, for reasons including a steam leak May 7, a transformer explosion May 9, and a switch yard breaker failure June 15. The plant also undergoes planned outages at one unit per year for refueling purposes.

Despite this, Entergy claims that planned fish protection outages would implicate Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety regulations. Riverkeeper, supported by its expert witness, Paul Blanch, who formerly worked as an engineer in the nuclear industry, will refute Entergy’s new claim that it will be unable to safely shut down and restart Indian Point for fish protection outages. Entergy and the City of New York oppose the fish protection outages, citing concerns that include electric system reliability, air quality and electricity cost concerns.

DEC, supported by the staff from the New York State Department of Public Service, will provide the court with analyses showing that potential adverse environmental impacts to electric system reliability or air quality which may be associated with outages at Indian Point will not be significant. Riverkeeper, supported by its expert witnesses from Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. and Resource Services Group, Inc., will present similar analyses to show that Indian Point outages can be implemented without adverse impacts to electric system reliability or air quality, and without a significant increase in consumer electricity prices.

“We look forward to providing the court with sensible alternatives to the destruction of a shocking percentage of Hudson River fish,” says Christopher Len, Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Director. “With proper planning, Indian Point could dramatically reduce its environmental impact while it switches over to better cooling technology.”

Since 2011, Riverkeeper has participated in similar hearings on the issues of radiological releases, closed-cycle cooling, Entergy’s proposed cylindrical wedge-wire screens, and the statutory “best usages” of the Hudson River. Riverkeeper is being represented by Senior Counsel Mark Lucas and Staff Attorneys Deborah Brancato and Abigail Jones.


Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents.

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