YONKERS, NY — February 24, 2016 — The Department of State, Bureau of Coastal Management came out with a critical report on Indian Point that prohibited the NRC from re-licensing Indian Point. Entergy took it to court immediately. It has gotten little to no play in the press. No matter what happens, it is a brilliant report. Clear, concise, easy to read. Unfortunately most people will not read a 40 page report. Marilyn Elie did a four page summary below and herein.
Indian Point Replaced
A Summary of the Coastal Zone Management Act Consistency Determination in Regard to Indian Point
State of New York, Department of State
Coastal Zone Management Act Consistency Determination
Indian Point Nuclear Generating Unit Nos. 2 & 3
NRC License Nos. DPR-26 and DPR-64
NRC Docket Nos. 50-247 and 50-286
On November 6, 2015 the New York Department of State sent Entergy a letter stating that the renewal of the operating licenses for Indian Point was not consistent with its policies for coastal management. As a result of this decision it prohibited the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from relicensing the Indian Point nuclear generating facilities.
It should be noted that there are four nuclear generators operating within the coastal area. The Department has reviewed all of them and found that three are in compliance with the policies of the Coastal Zone Management Act. However, the Department could not make the same finding in regard to Indian Point because of its location in an ecologically sensitive area, its proximity to 17 million people who live within 50 miles of the plant, the discharges of radioactive water into the Hudson River and the impairment of groundwater for its highest and best use, potable water. Several towns along the river, including Poughkeepsie and New York City in an emergency, use the Hudson as a source of drinking water. This policy applies whether or not the water body is being used for drinking water at the present time. The Department also carefully looked at replacement power for Indian Point and details what has happened in the last three years to make Indian Point obsolete in the market place.
The report was released November 6, 2015. In language that foreshadows the leaks of 2016, the report talks about the discharge of radioactive liquid from the Unit 2 spent fuel pool and the fact that it has already reached the Hudson. It goes into detail about the proximity of Indian Point to the New Croton Reservoir in Westchester County which provides drinking water to New York City residents and what a radiological accident could entail. The report clearly states that future leaks to ground water or airborne releases have the potential to affect the drinking water of millions.
Here is a quote from the report. “Replacing radionuclide-contaminated drinking water resources for millions of City residents would likely represent a substantial cost. In addition, radiological releases from a severe accident have the potential to destabilize the real estate market, infrastructure, and the economy in New York City and surrounding municipalities.”
What follows is an expanded list of issues relating to Indian Point such as fish deaths, seismic issues, flooding and sea level rise, electromagnetic interference between electric lines serving the plant and adjacent gas pipelines, spent fuel storage and leaks, water withdrawals, and the history of accidents at Indian Point. The analysis of what has been done to ensure adequate electricity generation without Indian Point by June 2016 is exceptionally detailed and thoughtful.
Each issue is carefully discussed in terms of coastal policy analysis.
Entergy’s arguments are put forth and met with countervailing arguments based on an accurate interpretation of these policies. For example, the report addresses Entergy’s claim that its nuclear generation is virtually carbon free and contributes to New York State’s ability to meet climate change and air quality goals. The finding from the Bureau: the fact that Indian Point does not contribute air pollutants and greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as part of their operation is not an environmental benefit. “The nuclear facilities neither harm nor enhance air quality; they have a neutral effect on air quality.” (p. 29)
But what about the electricity? First some information to put this issue in context.
On November 30, 2012, the Public Service Commission began a process called “The Indian Point Retirement Contingency Plan.” The purpose of the plan was to ensure grid stability by 2016 should either Unit 2 or 3 not be relicensed. The PSC worked with Consolidated Edison, New York Power Authority, Department of Public Service Staff, and other appropriate agencies. The reliability need date was set for June 14, 2016 when peak summer conditions potentially requiring 1, 450 MW could be expected. The date and the peak load was consistent with the New York System Operator analysis based on a 2012 Reliability Needs Assessment.
On November 4, 2013 the Contingency Plan was approved with a focus on system reliability.
On November 14, 2014, Consolidated Edison and other New York Transmission Owners formed a statewide transmission company to develop, build and own new transmission facilities. The Transmission Owner’s Transmission Solutions or TOTS improvements have an expected service date of June 1, 2016. In other words, transmission upgrades are canceling out the need for new generation, providing electricity at a cheaper cost to the ratepayer and are more ecologically friendly since the best power plant is the one you don’t have to build.
In addition to providing power for the New York City/Westchester grid the report states that the $1.3 billion dollar budget for these projects will stimulate the creation of an estimated 6,000 direct jobs and nearly 17,000 indirect jobs as well as bring other savings to the state worth millions of dollars. These projects will allow for a large reduction in CO2, emissions, 227,000 tons, and NOx emissions, 83 tons, because of increased efficiency in dispatching electricity.
The report also quotes the “Gold Book” the industry standard published annually by the NYISO which details load and capacity data for 2015 through 2025 and considers the retirement of Indian Point. It factors in implementation of a new capacity zone, demand-side measures including energy efficiency, combined heat and power resources that will lower the load on the Con Ed transmission system.
Some generation supply increases from new merchant plants or existing resources are also expected. That is, some existing generators are expected to increase the amount of electricity they can produce. For example, Indian Point went from 2,000 MWs to 2,060 MWs several years ago when an up rate from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was approved.
Here are figures for the total resource capacity for 2015, that is, what is available and functioning right now:
Ø Existing New York Control Area generating capacity – 38,665 MW
Ø Special Case Resources – 1,124 MW
Ø Additions and Up rates – 374 MW
Ø Net Long Term Purchases with Neighboring Control Areas – 1,446 MW
These figures from NYSIO indicate an abundance of power to meet our current and future electricity needs. The demand for electricity has remained fairly constant as the economy has improved due to increased conservation and efficiency. Also noted was a general trend of generating capacity returning to service in the Southeast New York grid where we are and in other parts of the New York Control Area. In addition two existing power plants in the Lower Hudson Valley, Danskammer and Bowline #2, went on-line with a total of 870 MW of power. Bowline #3 which was expected to go on line at the time this report was written is now online and selling additional megawatts into our grid.
What is outlined above is a barebones summary of the sometimes confusing details of the ins and outs of our electricity grid and the electricity market at work. Those who want more information are encouraged to read the report in its entirety. Enter the underlined NRC docket number in the heading of this article into your browser for the complete report. Pages 24 through 27 deals with the adequacy of our power supply, how it has changed and how our future needs are being addressed. The remainder of the report, through page 38, deals with a variety of issues as seen through the lens of proper coastal management.
Here are a few quotes.
Page 28: “In particular, Entergy claims that Indian Point’s tax payments to State, county and local governments and school districts will be lost if their operating license is not renewed for an additional 20 years. A 2013 compliance filing for PSC’s Indian Point Contingency Plan indicated that the TOTS projects would provide substantial tax revenues to the State and localities.”
Page 29: Relicensing Indian Point would not safeguard the vital social interests of NYS but place a large segment of the population, their livelihood and their drinking water in jeopardy.”
Page 30: “An earthquake scenario is even more troubling since Indian Point creates large quantiles of hazardous nuclear waste in the process of generating electricity and that waste continues to be stored in spent fuel pools and in casks on-site at Indian Point.”
Page 31: “Entergy contends that if Indian Point generation were no longer available, fossil fuel-fired facilities would be used to replace its baseload energy supplies which would greatly increase emissions of CO2, SO2, NOx and acid rain precursors. This contention is disproved by the three TOTS transmission line improvements, none of which involves generation of additional fossil fuel emissions. Clean energy replacements for Indian Point exist and will be available in 2016.”
Page 32: “The actual beneficial relationship between Indian Point and minority communities is not self-evident, except to the extent that lower electricity prices help low and moderate income families and individuals. The New York Transco TOTS and other electric system infrastructure improvements projects as well as the repowered generating stations are geared towards keeping rates low, reliability strong and environmental impacts negligible.”
Page 33: “… in 2005 Indian Point identified leakage of radionuclide-contaminated water from cracks in two different spent fuel pools and subsequently discovered tritium, strontium, and other radionuclides in groundwater underneath the site. Strontium and tritium from Indian Point’s spent fuel pools have also reached the Hudson River. The retained spent fuel pool water is likely to continue to discharge to groundwater for an indeterminate amount of time.”
Page 34: “… Indian Point’s role in servicing public energy needs in the southeastern New York area was extensively considered. Undertaking actions outlined in the contingency plans formulated under the auspices of the Public Service commission, projects are being put in place to relieve reliability concerns by some combination of increasing capacity resources, reducing load, or allowing existing capacity resources to be better utilized through the presences of additional transmission system infrastructure. … The New York electric power system can be expected to operate reliably without Indian Point Unit 2 and Unit 3 at the time or soon after their licenses expire.”
Page 35: “Approximately 1,500 tons of spent fuel waste is currently stored in densely packed spent fuel pool at the Indian Point facility. Two of the spent fuel pools, in addition to an unknown number of other pipes, have already exhibited structural failures that have resulted in leakage of unplanned, unpermitted quantities of radioactive waste that have flowed into the groundwater beneath the Indian Point facility. … It has not been determined the exact source of all leaks, the length of time the leaks have been transmitting radioactive material into the groundwater and the waters of the Hudson River, and the quantities of latent radioactive waste distributed throughout the groundwater underneath the Indian Point facility. Full assessment and cleanup of the radioactive leaks cannot commence until the plant has been shut down. …The existence of measurable level of radioactive releases from the Indian Point facility demonstrates that such storage solutions do not prevent or minimize spills into coastal waters.”
Page 37: “The nature of this migration of spent fuel water into the Hudson River and its potential to impair the best use of those waters contributes to the Department of State’s inability to find this action (renewal of license) consistent with this policy. Additionally, site remediation activities which could rectify these spent fuel releases would likely not be implemented until electric generation activities cease. Any license extension would lengthen the amount of time in which these discharges would continue to affect the groundwater under the Indian Point facility which is contrary to the State’s goals of expeditiously containing and remediating illicit discharge.”
Page 38: “Finally, NYS classifies the highest and best use of groundwater as potable water supply. In order to comply with NYS’s water quality standards any discharge to groundwater cannot impair its use regardless of its location or the actual present use of lack thereof of said groundwater as a potable water supply. The irradiated groundwater beneath the Indian Point property impairs its use as a drinking water supply.”
Appeal of this decision is to the United States Secretary of Commerce. Entergy has chosen to take this decision directly to court. There is another lawsuit pending which Riverkeeper is litigating. In this suit Entergy claims that it is grandfathered in to its current usage and so the coastal management policies do not apply to the Indian Point facility.
No matter the outcome of either court case, this report is brilliant in its clarity and logic. Indian Point has been replaced. It is old and unnecessary. The Coastal Management Report proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Now all it takes is for the reality to catch up with citizens and decision makers who are mired in misinformation about a scarcity of electricity. Now that it is plain that there will be no rolling blackouts or interruptions to service due to a lack of electricity, everyone can join the growing chorus calling for Indian Point not to be relicensed for the health and safety of us all.
Learn more from Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition: www.ipsecinfo.org, 888-474-8848