The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a request to effectively suspend the requirement that the Indian Point Energy Center in New York state complete fresh assessments of earthquake and flooding risks.
The regulator in 2012 required that all holders of nuclear power reactor licenses and construction permits conduct the evaluations in the wake of the devastation inflicted the year before by a tsunami and earthquake on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. NRC staff would use the reports to identify the need for possible regulatory action.
Entergy Nuclear Operations started work on the assessments at Indian Point. However, the company in January announced it would shut down the plant’s two remaining operational reactors: Indian Point Unit 2 by April 30, 2020; and Indian Point Unit 3 by April 30, 2021. Management, in letters sent to the NRC in May and July, asked for deferrals on the completion dates for the seismic hazard re-evaluations and flooding integrated assessments for both reactors until after their closure.
NRC staff, in a letter to Entergy dated Oct. 4, approved the requests. The decision was based on a number of points, according to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan, including: post-Fukushima measures already implemented at Indian Point, including enhanced spent fuel pool instrumentation and portable pumps and generators that could be used in the event of a loss of power; the plant’s existing spent fuel seismic capacity; and the limited period of operations remaining.
This essentially eliminates the requirement for Entergy to continue conducting this work, Sheehan acknowledged.
“Indian Point has completed a significant amount of work on both the seismic and flooding fronts,” he said by email. “Also, Indian Point has already made some physical modifications to the site, including the raising of certain manholes, to address flooding concerns and the Unit 1 emissions stack was removed in response to seismic assessments.”