NRC issues supplement to Indian Point environmental review

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has issued a supplement to the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) it prepared for the Indian Point nuclear power plant license renewal application.

The update to the earlier assessment released in December 2010 incorporates new information about possible impacts of the Buchanan, N.Y., facility on the aquatic environment, the NRC said June 25.

The protracted process for the NRC license renewal process for Indian Point’s two reactors, plus some water permitting problems the plant has had with New York regulators, has prompted an expensive, ongoing effort by the New York State Public Service Commission to find power generating and transmission alternatives in case Indian Point has to be shut.

The NRC said that among the new information identified since the FSEIS was issued are:

  • Additional details provided by the plant’s owner, Entergy Nuclear Operations, on impingement and entrainment field data units of measure. (Impingement refers to the trapping of fish and other aquatic organisms against intake screens by the force of the water being drawn through a cooling water intake structure, while entrainment refers to the drawing of small aquatic organisms through a cooling water intake structure.) There has been a significant decline in estimated entrainment losses under a revised analysis.
  • Comments provided by Entergy on the field data units of measure regarding the Essential Fish Habitat Assessment for the plant.
  • New studies completed by Entergy and submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation characterizing the plant’s thermal plume in the Hudson River. Based on the studies and the Department of Environmental Conservation’s review of them, the NRC staff concludes the impacts from heat shock to aquatic resources in the lower Hudson River would be “small.”

The supplement also documents the completion of a consultation process between the NRC and the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the shortnose sturgeon and the Atlantic sturgeon population in the vicinity of Indian Point. The new analysis finds the impact of the plant’s continued operation on those species would be “small.”

Indian Point is the site of two pressurized-water reactors. The initial 40-year operating license for Indian Point Unit 2 is set to expire on Sept. 28, 2013, while the initial license for Unit 3 runs through Dec. 12, 2015. Entergy is seeking a 20-year license extension for each unit. It submitted an application to the NRC seeking the license renewals in April 2007.

Indian Point 2 has a design net electrical capacity of 1,078 MW, while Indian Point 3 has a design net capacity of about 1,080 MW. The closure of one or both of those units would leave a big hole in New York’s power portfolio, particularly since the plant is near the New York City load center.

A draft version of the FSEIS supplement was issued on June 26, 2012. Eight organizations and/or individuals submitted comments to the NRC on the report. Those comments are addressed in the final report.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.