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Riverkeeper Challenges NRC on Endangered Sturgeon Impacts

Indian Point and Sturgeon

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Contact: Tina Posterli, Riverkeeper, 914-478-4501 x 239 [email protected]

New Legal Filing attacks adequacy of Final Environmental Assessment by NRC

OSSINING, NY – February 7, 2011 – Riverkeeper today filed a new claim with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the ongoing Indian Point relicensing battle. This latest legal challenge faults the Federal oversight agency for failing to consider vital information from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) about affects on endangered and threatened aquatic life in the Hudson River prior to issuing its determination this past December that there are no environmental impacts that would preclude license renewal for the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires Federal agencies to consult with NMFS whenever a proposed action will impact endangered or threatened species. NRC learned from NMFS as early as October 2007 that the license renewal of Indian Point could adversely affect two federally protected sturgeon species present in the Hudson River. Under the ESA, the NRC then became obligated to prepare a biological assessment for NMFS to review, in order for NMFS to be able to issue an official biological opinion regarding whether relicensing Indian Point will improperly jeopardize endangered species. NMFS’ opinion will contain critical information about impacts to endangered species in the Hudson River, including any necessary mitigation measures or project alternatives.

However, NRC delayed for three years in giving NMFS all the information necessary for NMFS to perform its required consultation duties. As a result, the NRC ultimately issued a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) recommending license renewal before NMFS could perform its required analysis and inform NRC’s assessment with crucial input.

“NRC’s failure to consider feedback from NMFS completely flouts the whole purpose of the Endangered Species Act, and leaves the FSEIS blatantly inadequate,” said Riverkeeper Staff Attorney, Deborah Brancato. “Without the benefit of NMFS’ biological opinion, it is hard to fathom how NRC’s conclusions about impacts to endangered species, and ultimately, the appropriateness of relicensing Indian Point were fully-informed and accurate.”

Riverkeeper’s new filing comes on the heels of a challenge filed by Riverkeeper and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater calling for NRC to fully assess the environmental impacts of long-term nuclear waste storage at Indian Point prior to its relicensing. Since the NRC issued its FSEIS, Riverkeeper has been concerned about the scientific information in the report contradicting the agency’s conclusions.

These new claims are yet further examples of NRC’s flawed environmental review process in the Indian Point license renewal proceeding. NRC has overlooked serious environmental issues in reaching the conclusion that Indian Point should be relicensed. NRC’s conclusions continue to be unsupported by the facts and raise serious questions about the agency’s willingness to objectively assess Indian Point’s true impact on the Hudson River.

A panel of independent NRC judges will now determine whether Riverkeeper’s new claim will be admitted into the ongoing license renewal proceedings. Riverkeeper currently is preparing for a hearing on three issues challenging the safety and environmental impacts of relicensing Indian Point. A federal hearing is tentatively scheduled for summer 2011.

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