- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is continuing to push for the closure of Entergy's Indian Point nuclear facility, arguing that it is not possible to develop a plan to safely operate the aging facility so close to New York City, Platts reports.
- Brittle reactor vessels and fatigued metals make operating the plant too risky, Cuomo's administration said in comments filed this week with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
- Cuomo has been pushing for Indian Point to shutter since 2012 and recently denied the facility a water use permit. The plant has operated since the mid-1970s, and Entergy has requested to operate it another 20 years.
Comments filed by Cuomo's administration paint a bleak picture at the Indian Point nuclear facility, with descriptions of unplanned outages, aging reactors, transformer fires and emergency repairs. With New York City's 20 million residents within 50 miles of the plant, the state believes shutting down the reactors is the most responsible choice.
"Entergy does not have, and cannot develop, a safety and evacuation plan for dealing with a major disaster so close to New York City," Jim Malatras, director of state operations, said in a Nov. 16 letter to the NRC.
Unit 2's license expired in 2013 and Unit 3's will expire in mid-December. Both units will continue to operate, however, as the NRC considers a license extension that would allow the plants to continue operating out to 60 years of age. It is unclear if the state's decision to deny a Coastal Consistency Determination will impact operations. Some opponents of the plant say without the permit Entergy could be forced to take Indian Point offline next year, but the company believes it does not need the permit to continue generating power.
But Cuomo said national security concerns and deterioration of the plan's condition mean continued operation is unsafe. He asked the NRC to deny the relicensing on an expedited basis. "Given the deterioration of this aging plant, it should not be permitted to operate for another 20 years," the letter said.
On the flip side, Cuomo issued a statement earlier this month saying the state would fight Entergy's plans to close the 838 MW James A. FitzPatrick nuclear plant, declaring it would use "every legal and regulatory avenue" in effort to save more than 600 jobs at the facility. Entergy has said it intends to shutter the facility in either late 2016 or early 2017, because low natural gas prices have created unfavorable market conditions.
Nuclear generators in U.S. organized markets are being pushed toward unprofitability and retirement by high operating costs and the low price of natural gas. Last month, major U.S. rating agencies concluded that 11% of the U.S. nuclear fleet at risk for early retirement, putting greenhouse gas goals set by the Obama administration in jeopardy. If even a small number of nuclear units are replaced by natural gas generation, analysts warned, it could be more difficult for states to meet their emissions targets under the plan.