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NRC Denies Indian Point Contention from Riverkeeper

BUCHANAN, N.Y. – The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denied a challenge to the relicensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan, brought by Riverkeeper and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater . The contention asserted that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not take into account new information from a report on the Fukushima, Japan, accident.

"New York State is taking its responsibility to protect public health and safety seriously," Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River program director for Riverkeeper, said in an e-mail. "The NRC seems to be more interested in assuring that nuclear power plants are relicensed than in taking a hard look at the implications of relicensing in the context of a post-Fukushima world."

The contention, filed in August 2011, is one of about 20 being brought before the three-judge licensing board by Riverkeeper and Clearwater to address issues that the environmental groups allege violate regulatory or legal requirements.

The NRC argued against the admission of the contention, saying it addressed emergency-planning issues that are outside the scope of license renewal, and that other issues brought up by the contention would be “generically addressed,” according to a memorandum order released by the licensing board.

Entergy Nuclear , owner of the plants, also argued against the admission of the contention, saying that the task force report on the Fukushima disaster was not a sufficient source of new information to support the contention, and that the subject of the contention would soon be the source of rule making.

"Commissioner (Gregory) Jaczko is the only NRC Commissioner to raise serious concerns and recommend that the implication of Fukushima be addressed by any plant seeking relicensing on a site-specific basis," Musegaas wrote. "The other four Commissioners do not agree, but the limited steps the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is taking on a national basis are too generic to be effective – so this ruling leaves us without an adequate evaluation of severe accident mitigation at either the national level or on a case-specific basis."

The remaining contentions are expected to be heard later in the year.

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