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Riverkeeper Update on Indian Point State Hearing for Critical Water Permits

Testimony Reveals Major New Flaws in Entergy’s Case

Albany, NY – July 22, 2013 – In the latest round of hearings before the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regarding the state’s denial of Entergy’s Clean Water Act 401 Certification, testimony from Entergy on its “wedgewire screen” alternative cooling system shows that the company does not own or have legal access to the Hudson River bottom in front of Indian Point which is needed to build the screens. Under federal and state law, an alternative cooling technology like the screens must be “available” to be considered for use. This means Entergy must be able to obtain permits and have physical ownership or access to property on which to build it. Without this, the technology is not “available” and should not be considered as a viable alternative. In addition, Entergy’s latest testimony fails to include any detailed studies of the environmental impacts related to constructing the screen array, an enormous underwater structure that would take up 5 acres of the Hudson River. These impacts include destruction of river bottom habitat and dredging and potential resuspension of sediment contaminated with radiation.

This round of permit hearings began on July 15, and will likely conclude on Wednesday, July 23 with testimony from Riverkeeper’s fisheries biologist Peter Henderson, who will discuss his critique of Entergy’s expert testimony and screen proposal. During the first week of hearings, Entergy’s expert witnesses were cross examined by Riverkeeper and DEC attorneys on the numerous inadequacies in their testimony.

“After two years of hearings, it is now clear that Entergy’s wedgewire screen proposal is nothing more than an elaborate hoax which Entergy has fabricated in order to further delay compliance with environmental laws that protect the Hudson River,” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director at Riverkeeper. “The facts brought out during these hearings show conclusively that wedgewire screens are not as protective of the river as closed-cycle cooling, and in fact Entergy doesn’t have the legal right to build them on 5 acres of riverbottom in the first place. It’s time for Entergy to face facts, and begin planning for the permanent shutdown of Indian Point.”

This is the third and last round of hearings on Entergy’s wedgewire screen proposal, and per the judge’s rulings, Entergy’s last opportunity to make its case as to why the screens would reduce impacts on the Hudson River as well as closed-cycle cooling, which both the state and Riverkeeper have shown can be built at the site. Hearings on the closed-cycle cooling alternatives proposed by DEC and Riverkeeper will take place in late 2013. As reported previously, Entergy must obtain a 401 Water Quality Certification from New York State in order to be relicensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and its initial application was denied by the DEC in 2010.

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