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Environmental Groups Raise New Challenge to Indian Point Nuclear Waste Storage in NRC Relicensing Case

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Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

Press Contacts:

Richard Webster, Public Justice, 202 630 5708, or [email protected]
Julia Church, Clearwater, 845 265 8080, ext. 7112, or [email protected]
Tina Posterli, Riverkeeper, 914 478 4501, ext. 239, or [email protected]

January 25, 2011

Call for IP Relicensing Proceedings to Consider Environmental and Safety Concerns

HUDSON VALLEY, NY – Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and Riverkeeper jointly filed a new legal challenge yesterday with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (“Board”) seeking to compel the NRC to assess the environmental impacts and safety concerns of indefinitely storing toxic nuclear waste on the banks of the Hudson River at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, NY. The new filing responds to the NRC’s December 2010 decision upholding the so-called “Waste Confidence Rule.” In the Rule, the NRC continues to exempt nuclear waste storage from site-specific environmental or safety reviews that would otherwise be required when a nuclear plant applies for a license renewal, asserting that waste storage is safe for 60 years after a plant permanently stops operating. The Rule fails to assess the impacts of storing the waste on-site after the 60-year period ends.

This exemption comes despite the fact that the Commission acknowledges it cannot predict when the spent-fuel will leave the Indian Point site, if ever, because of the lack of a permanent waste disposal site. Clearwater and Riverkeeper are requesting that the Board order the NRC staff to fully assess the environmental impacts of nuclear waste storage at Indian Point prior to the relicensing of Indian Point Units 2 and 3. By relying on the Waste Confidence Rule, the NRC is clearly ignoring the plume of radioactively contaminated groundwater that continues to leach into the Hudson River from Indian Point’s spent fuel pools, the vulnerability of the pools to terrorism and accidents, and problems with physical degradation of the racks used to hold the fuel in the pools.

“Without a national disposal site on the horizon, high-level nuclear waste produced by Indian Point has nowhere to go,” said Richard Webster of Public Justice, a Washington DC-based public interest law firm, who is serving as a consultant to Clearwater. “The NRC must either address the need for safe storage beyond the 60-year limitation that the present Waste Confidence Rule allows or not allow spent-fuel to be created.”

“Indian Point’s 1500 tons of nuclear waste are already wreaking havoc on the environment,” said Deborah Brancato, Riverkeeper Staff Attorney. “Now NRC has ruled to let this hazardous waste sit on the banks of the Hudson River for decades and decades to come without properly assessing what the long-term impacts will be. This decision defies science, logic, and simple common sense.”

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