July 21 New York state environmental regulators
have proposed shutting the giant Indian Point nuclear power
plant to protect fish in the Hudson River during summer months,
when demand for electricity for air-conditioning is greatest.
The 2,061-megawatt plant, located about 40 miles north of
Manhattan, provides about a quarter of the power used in the New
York City area.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation
proposed closing the plant from May 10 to August 10, according
to a document dated in May posted on the DEC website.
Officials at the DEC, which will hold a public meeting on
its summer shutdown proposal on Tuesday, were not immediately
available for comment.
The DEC proposal is the latest salvo in a lengthy battle
between Entergy Corp, which owns Indian Point and wants
to keep the plant operating for another 20 years, and state
environmental regulators, who are seeking to protect fish and
other aquatic life.
Indian Point withdraws up to 2.5 billion gallons of water
per day from the Hudson to cool equipment, and then discharges
that water back into the river a little warmer than before.
Environmental groups and the DEC have long argued that
Indian Point's water intake system kills about a billion fish,
fish eggs and larvae each year, and the plant should install
cooling towers to reduce the use of river water by recycling it.
Entergy argues that cooling towers are too expensive, with
an estimated cost of up to $2 billion and likely could not enter
service before 2029. Instead it has proposed installing a
Wedgewire screen system to protect the fish. The company said
the screens would save more fish as it would take only about
three years to install at a cost of up to $250 million.
"Wedgewire screen technology is more effective over time and
far less disruptive than a massive cooling tower and forced
outages," Entergy said in a statement on Monday.
Business and labor groups supporting the continued operation
of Indian Point last week sent an open letter to the DEC, urging
the state to drop its "forced outage" proposal.
"The DEC proposal would mean lost jobs, higher electricity
prices, significantly lower electric reliability and vast
economic uncertainty," New York Affordable Reliable Electricity
Alliance, the pro Indian Point group, said in a statement.
NY AREA said the DEC proposal will "spawn more environmental
problems than it will solve," in part because it would require
utilities to burn more fossil fuels, producing carbon and other
harmful emissions. Nuclear plants produce minimal emissions.
Entergy filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to
renew the operating licenses for the two Indian Point reactors
The units can continue to operate under existing licenses
until the NRC completes the relicensing process, which Entergy
has said could take until 2018. Unit 2's license expired in 2013
and Unit 3's will expire in 2015.
Before the NRC can grant new licenses, the state must
approve water permits.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by Gunna Dickson)